Hugepages Support

Hugepages are used by ZC for buffers allocations. This document describes how to enable them into your system.

For the impatient

# 1024 * 2048kB = 2 GB
echo 1024 > /sys/kernel/mm/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages
mount -t hugetlbfs nodev /dev/hugepages

_Warning: If you accidentally exceed the amount of available RAM, the kernel will round down to the highest number of hugepages possible and grind your system to a halt._

The whole story

Linux typically use memory pages of 4 KBytes, but provides an explicit interface to allocate pages with bigger size called hugepages. It is up to developers/administrators to decide when they have to be used.

Hugepages advantages:

  • large amounts of physical memory can be reserved for memory allocation, that otherwise would fail especially when physically contiguous memory is required.
  • reduced overhead: as the TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer) contains per-page virtual to physical address mappings, using a large amount of memory with the default page size leads to processing overhead for managing the TLB entries.

The default hugepage size is usually 2 MBytes. The hugepage size can be found in /proc/meminfo:

cat /proc/meminfo | grep Hugepagesize
Hugepagesize: 2048 kB

Hugepages can be dynamically reserved with:

echo 1024 > /sys/kernel/mm/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages

The above pages are allocated by the system without node affinity. If you want to force allocation on a specific NUMA node you have to do:

echo 1024 > /sys/devices/system/node/node0/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages
echo 1024 > /sys/devices/system/node/node1/hugepages/hugepages-2048kB/nr_hugepages

It is possible to change the default hugepages size and reserve large amounts of memory at boot time using the following kernel options:

default_hugepagesz=2M hugepagesz=2M hugepages=1024

If this commands returns a non-empty string, 2MB pages are supported:

cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep pse

In order to make the hugepages available for use, Linux provides a RAM-based filesystem called “hugetlbfs” that have to be mounted with:

mount -t hugetlbfs none /dev/hugepages

In order to control the maximum amount of memory bound to a mount point it is possible to specify the “size=” option (size is rounded down to the nearest hugepage size). Example:

mount -t hugetlbfs -o pagesize=2M,size=2G none /dev/hugepages

It is possible to see what pages are currently in use using the following command:

cat /sys/devices/system/node/node*/meminfo | grep Huge
Node 0 HugePages_Total:  1024
Node 0 HugePages_Free:   1024
Node 0 HugePages_Surp:      0

Possible errors

  1. The number of pages reported by HugePages_Total is lower then the configured number of pages.


The memory manager is not able to reserve enough physical memory to allocate the requested number of pages. Try with a fresh boot, or even just emptying the buffers cache might help:

echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
  1. The application prints “error mmap’ing hugepage xxx: Resource temporarily unavailable”


  • You might not have permissions to mmap hugepages.
  • Increase the “max locked memory” ulimit (see ulimit -l) to accomodate the memory needed for buffers and metadata. You can manually increase the ulimit value:
ulimit -l 4194304
  • Increase the value in /proc/sys/kernel/shmmax. Please note that on 32bit systems it will wrap around 4 GBytes.
echo 2147483648 > /proc/sys/kernel/shmmax