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CONFERENCE PROGRAM ABSTRACTS

Tech Sessions: Wednesday, February 15 | Thursday, February 16 | Friday, February 17
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
9:20 a.m.–10:30 a.m.

De-indirection for Flash-based SSDs with Nameless Writes
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/7/12
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We present Nameless Writes, a new device interface that removes the need for indirection in modern solid-state storage devices (SSDs). Nameless writes allow the device to choose the location of a write; only then is the client informed of the name (i.e., address) where the block now resides. Doing so allows the device to control block-allocation decisions, thus enabling it to execute critical tasks such as garbage collection and wear leveling, while removing the need for large and costly indirection tables. We demonstrate the effectiveness of nameless writes by porting the Linux ext3 file system to use an emulated nameless-writing device and show that doing so both reduces space and time overheads, thus making for simpler, less costly, and higher-performance SSD-based storage.

The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/6/12 | Updated full paper, 2/8/12
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In recent years, flash-based SSDs have grown enormously both in capacity and popularity. In high-performance enterprise storage applications, accelerating adoption of SSDs is predicated on the ability of manufacturers to deliver performance that far exceeds disks while closing the gap in cost per gigabyte. However, while flash density continues to improve, other metrics such as a reliability, endurance, and performance are all declining. As a result, building larger-capacity flash-based SSDs that are reliable enough to be useful in enterprise settings and high-performance enough to justify their cost will become challenging. In this work, we present our empirical data collected from 45 flash chips from 6 manufacturers and examine the performance trends for these raw flash devices as flash scales down in feature size. We use this analysis to predict the performance and cost characteristics of future SSDs. We show that future gains in density will come at significant drops in performance and reliability. As a result, SSD manufacturers and users will face a tough choice in trading off between cost, performance, capacity and reliability.

When Poll Is Better than Interrupt
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In a traditional block I/O path, the operating system completes virtually all I/Os asynchronously via interrupts. However, performing storage I/O with ultra-low latency devices using next-generation non-volatile memory, it can be shown that polling for the completion — hence wasting clock cycles during the I/O — delivers higher performance than traditional interrupt-driven I/O. This paper thus argues for the synchronous completion of block I/O first by presenting strong empirical evidence showing a stack latency advantage, second by delineating limits with the current interrupt-driven path, and third by proving that synchronous completion is indeed safe and correct. This paper further discusses challenges and opportunities introduced by synchronous I/O completion model for both operating system kernels and user applications.

11:00 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

Characteristics of Backup Workloads in Production Systems
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/7/12 | Updated full paper, 2/9/12
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Data-protection class workloads, including backup and long-term retention of data, have seen a strong industry shift from tape-based platforms to disk-based systems. But the latter are traditionally designed to serve as primary storage and there has been little published analysis of the characteristics of backup workloads as they relate to the design of disk-based systems. In this paper, we present a comprehensive characterization of backup workloads by analyzing statistics and content metadata collected from a large set of EMC Data Domain backup systems in production use. This analysis is both broad (encompassing statistics from over 10,000 systems) and deep (using detailed metadata traces from several production systems storing almost 700TB of backup data). We compare these systems to a detailed study of Microsoft primary storage systems [22], showing that backup storage differs significantly from their primary storage workload in the amount of data churn and capacity requirements as well as the amount of redundancy within the data. These properties bring unique challenges and opportunities when designing a disk-based filesystem for backup workloads, which we explore in more detail using the metadata traces. In particular, the need to handle high churn while leveraging high data redundancy is considered by looking at deduplication unit size and caching efficiency.

WAN Optimized Replication of Backup Datasets Using Stream-Informed Delta Compression
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Replicating data off-site is critical for disaster recovery reasons, but the current approach of transferring tapes is cumbersome and error-prone. Replicating across a wide area network (WAN) is a promising alternative, but fast network connections are expensive or impractical in many remote locations, so improved compression is needed to make WAN replication truly practical. We present a new technique for replicating backup datasets across a WAN that not only eliminates duplicate regions of files (deduplication) but also compresses similar regions of files with delta compression, which is available as a feature of EMC Data Domain systems. Our main contribution is an architecture that adds stream-informed delta compression to already existing deduplication systems and eliminates the need for new, persistent indexes. Unlike techniques based on knowing a file's version or that use a memory cache, our approach achieves delta compression across all data replicated to a server at any time in the past. From a detailed analysis of datasets and hundreds of customers using our product, we achieve an additional 2X compression from delta compression beyond deduplication and local compression, which enables customers to replicate data that would otherwise fail to complete within their backup window.

Power Consumption in Enterprise-Scale Backup Storage Systems
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Power consumption has become an important factor in modern storage system design. Power efficiency is particularly beneficial in disk-based backup systems that store mostly cold data, have significant idle periods, and must compete with the operational costs of tape-based backup. There are no prior published studies on power consumption in these systems, leaving researchers and practitioners to rely on existing assumptions. In this paper we present the first analysis of power consumption in real-world, enterprise, disk-based backup storage systems. We uncovered several important observations, including some that challenge conventional wisdom. We discuss their impact on future power-efficient designs.

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Recon: Verifying File System Consistency at Runtime
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File system bugs that corrupt file system metadata on disk are insidious. Existing file-system reliability methods, such as checksums, redundancy, or transactional updates, merely ensure that the corruption is reliably preserved. The typical workarounds, based on using backups or repairing the file system, are painfully slow. Worse, the recovery is performed long after the original error occurred and thus may result in further corruption and data loss. We present a system called Recon that protects file system metadata from buggy file system operations. Our approach leverages modern file systems that provide crash consistency using transactional updates. We define declarative statements called consistency invariants for a file system. These invariants must be satisfied by each transaction being committed to disk to preserve file system integrity. Recon checks these invariants at commit, thereby minimizing the damage caused by buggy file systems. The major challenges to this approach are specifying invariants and interpreting file system behavior correctly without relying on the file system code. Recon provides a framework for file-system specific metadata interpretation and invariant checking. We show the feasibility of interpreting metadata and writing consistency invariants for the Linux ext3 file system using this framework. Recon can detect random as well as targeted file-system corruption at runtime as effectively as the offline e2fsck filesystem checker, with low overhead.

Understanding Performance Implications of Nested File Systems in a Virtualized Environment
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Virtualization allows computing resources to be utilized much more efficiently than those in traditional systems, and it is a strong driving force behind commoditizing computing infrastructure for providing cloud services. Unfortunately, the multiple layers of abstraction that virtualization introduces also complicate the proper understanding, accurate measurement, and effective management of such an environment. In this paper, we focus on one particular layer: storage virtualization, which enables a host system to map a guest VM's file system to almost any storage media. A flat file in the host file system is commonly used for this purpose. However, as we will show, when one file system (guest) runs on top of another file system (host), their nested interactions can have unexpected and significant performance implications (as much as 67% degradation). From performing experiments on 42 different combinations of guest and host file systems, we give advice on how to and how not to nest file systems.

Consistency Without Ordering
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Modern file systems use ordering points to maintain consistency in the face of system crashes. However, such ordering leads to lower performance, higher complexity, and a strong and perhaps naive dependence on lower layers to correctly enforce the ordering of writes. In this paper, we introduce the No-Order File System (NoFS), a simple, lightweight file system that employs a novel technique called backpointer-based consistency to provide crash consistency without ordering writes as they go to disk. We utilize a formal model to prove that NoFS provides data consistency in the event of system crashes; we show through experiments that NoFS is robust to such crashes, and delivers excellent performance across a range of workloads. Backpointer-based consistency thus allows NoFS to provide crash consistency without resorting to the heavyweight machinery of traditional approaches.

4:00 p.m.–5:20 p.m.

Reducing SSD Read Latency via NAND Flash Program and Erase Suspension
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In NAND flash memory, once a page program or block erase (P/E) command is issued to a NAND flash chip, the subsequent read requests have to wait until the time-consuming P/E operation to complete. Preliminary results show that the lengthy P/E operations may increase the read latency by 2x on average. As NAND flash-based SSDs enter the enterprise server storage, this increased read latency caused by the contention may significantly degrade the overall system performance. Inspired by the internal mechanism of NANDflash P/E algorithms, we propose in this paper a low-overhead P/E suspension scheme, which suspends the on-going P/E to service pending reads and resumes the suspended P/E afterwards. In our experiments, we simulate a realistic SSD model that adopts multi-chip/channel and evaluate both SLC and MLC NAND flash as storage materials of diverse performance. Our experimental results show that the proposed technique achieves a near-optimal performance gain on servicing read requests. Specifically, the read latency is reduced on average by 50.5% compared to RPS and 75.4% compared to FIFO at cost of less than 4% overhead on write requests.

Optimizing NAND Flash-Based SSDs via Retention Relaxation
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As NAND Flash technology continues to scale down and more bits are stored in a cell, the raw reliability of NAND Flash memories degrades inevitably. To meet the retention capability required for a reliable storage system, we see a trend of longer write latency and more complex ECCs employed in an SSD storage system. These greatly impact the performance of future SSDs. In this paper, we present the first work to improve SSD performance via retention relaxation. NAND Flash is typically required to retain data for 1 to 10 years according to industrial standards. However, we observe that many data are overwritten in hours or days in several popular workloads in datacenters. The gap between the specification guarantee and actual programs' needs can be exploited to improve write speed or ECCs' cost and performance. To exploit this opportunity, we propose a system design that allows data to be written in various latencies or protected by different ECC codes without hampering reliability. Simulation results show that via write speed optimization, we can achieve 1:8–5:7x write response time speedup. We also show that for future SSDs, retention relaxation can bring both performance and cost benefits to the ECC architecture.

SFS: Random Write Considered Harmful in Solid State Drives
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Over the last decade we have witnessed the relentless technological improvement in flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) and they have many advantages over hard disk drives (HDDs) as a secondary storage such as performance and power consumption. However, the random write performance in SSDs still remains as a concern. Even in modern SSDs, the disparity between random and sequential write bandwidth is more than tenfold. Moreover, random writes can shorten the limited lifespan of SSDs because they incur more NAND block erases per write. In order to overcome these problems due to random writes, in this paper, we propose a new file system for SSDs, SFS. First, SFS exploits the maximum write bandwidth of SSD by taking a log-structured approach. SFS transforms all random writes at file system level to sequential ones at SSD level. Second, SFS takes a new data grouping strategy on writing, instead of the existing data separation strategy on segment cleaning. It puts the data blocks with similar update likelihood into the same segment. This minimizes the inevitable segment cleaning overhead in any log-structured file system by allowing the segments to form a sharp bimodal distribution of segment utilization. We have implemented a prototype SFS by modifying Linux-based NILFS2 and compared it with three state-of-the-art file systems using several realistic workloads. SFS outperforms the traditional LFS by up to 2.5 times in terms of throughput. Additionally, in comparison to modern file systems such as ext4 and btrfs, it drastically reduces the block erase count inside the SSD by up to 7.5 times.

Thursday, February 16, 2012
9:00 a.m.–10:20 a.m.

FIOS: A Fair, Efficient Flash I/O Scheduler
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Flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) have the potential to eliminate the I/O bottlenecks in data-intensive applications. However, the large performance discrepancy between Flash reads and writes introduces challenges for fair resource usage. Further, existing fair queueing and quanta-based I/O schedulers poorly manage the I/O anticipation for Flash I/O fairness and efficiency. Some also suppress the I/O parallelism which causes substantial performance degradation on Flash. This paper develops FIOS, a new Flash I/O scheduler that attains fairness and high efficiency at the same time. FIOS employs a fair I/O timeslice management with mechanisms for read preference, parallelism, and fairness-oriented I/O anticipation. Evaluation demonstrates that FIOS achieves substantially better fairness and efficiency compared to the Linux CFQ scheduler, the SFQ(D) fair queueing scheduler, and the Argon quanta-based scheduler on several Flash-based storage devices (including a CompactFlash card in a low-power wimpy node). In particular, FIOS reduces the worst-case slowdown by a factor of 2.3 or more when the read-only SPECweb workload runs together with the write-intensive TPC-C.

Shredder: GPU-Accelerated Incremental Storage and Computation
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/5/12
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Redundancy elimination using data deduplication and incremental data processing has emerged as an important technique to minimize storage and computation requirements in data center computing. In this paper, we present the design, implementation and evaluation of Shredder, a high performance content-based chunking framework for supporting incremental storage and computation systems. Shredder exploits the massively parallel processing power of GPUs to overcome the CPU bottlenecks of content-based chunking in a cost-effective manner. Unlike previous uses of GPUs, which have focused on applications where computation costs are dominant, Shredder is designed to operate in both compute- and data-intensive environments. To allow this, Shredder provides several novel optimizations aimed at reducing the cost of transferring data between host (CPU) and GPU, fully utilizing the multicore architecture at the host, and reducing GPU memory access latencies. With our optimizations, Shredder achieves a speedup of over 5X for chunking bandwidth compared to our optimized parallel implementation without a GPU on the same host system. Furthermore, we present two real world applications of Shredder: an extension to HDFS, which serves as a basis for incremental MapReduce computations, and an incremental cloud backup system. In both contexts, Shredder detects redundancies in the input data across successive runs, leading to significant savings in storage, computation, and end-to-end completion times.

Adding Advanced Storage Controller Functionality via Low-Overhead Virtualization
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/2/12
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Historically, storage controllers have been extended by integrating new code, e.g., file serving, database processing, deduplication, etc., into an existing base. This integration leads to complexity, co-dependency and instability of both the original and new functions. Hypervisors are a known mechanism to isolate different functions. However, to enable extending a storage controller by providing new functions in a virtual machine (VM), the virtualization overhead must be negligible, which is not the case in a straightforward implementation. This paper demonstrates a set of mechanisms and techniques that achieve near zero runtime performance overhead for using virtualization in the context of a storage system.

10:50 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

ZZFS: A Hybrid Device and Cloud File System for Spontaneous Users
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Good execution of data placement, caching and consistency policies across a user's personal devices has always been hard. Unpredictable networks, capricious user behavior with leaving devices on or off and non-uniform energy-saving policies constantly interfere with the good intentions of a storage system's policies. This paper's contribution is to better manage these inherent uncertainties. We do so primarily by building a low-power communication channel that is available even when a device is off. This channel is mainly made possible by a novel network interface card that is carefully placed under the control of storage system protocols. The design space can benefit existing placement policies (e.g., Cimbiosys [21], Perspective [23], Anzere [22]). It also allows for interesting new ones. We build a file system called ZZFS around a particular set of policies motivated by user studies. Its policies cater to users who interact with the file system in an ad hoc way—spontaneously and without pre-planning.

Revisiting Storage for Smartphones
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Conventional wisdom holds that storage is not a big contributor to application performance on mobile devices. Flash storage (the type most commonly used today) draws little power, and its performance is thought to exceed that of the network subsystem. In this paper we present evidence that storage performance does indeed affect the performance of several common applications such as web browsing, Maps, application install, email, and Facebook. For several Android smartphones, we find that just by varying the underlying flash storage, performance over WiFi can typically vary between 100% to 300% across applications; in one extreme scenario the variation jumped to over 2000%. We identify the reasons for the strong correlation between storage and application performance to be a combination of poor flash device performance, random I/O from application databases, and heavy-handed use of synchronous writes; based on our findings we implement and evaluate a set of pilot solutions to address the storage performance deficiencies in smartphones.

Serving Large-scale Batch Computed Data with Project Voldemort
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Current serving systems lack the ability to bulk load massive immutable data sets without affecting serving performance. The performance degradation is largely due to index creation and modification as CPU and memory resources are shared with request serving. We have extended Project Voldemort, a general-purpose distributed storage and serving system inspired by Amazon's Dynamo, to support bulk loading terabytes of read-only data. This extension constructs the index offline, by leveraging the fault tolerance and parallelism of Hadoop. Compared to MySQL, our compact storage format and data deployment pipeline scales to twice the request throughput while maintaining sub 5 ms median latency. At LinkedIn, the largest professional social network, this system has been running in production for more than 2 years and serves many of the data-intensive social features on the site.

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Work-in-Progress Reports (WiPs)
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4:00 p.m.–5:20 p.m.

BlueSky: A Cloud-Backed File System for the Enterprise
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We present BlueSky, a network file system backed by cloud storage. BlueSky stores data persistently in a cloud storage provider such as Amazon S3 or Windows Azure, allowing users to take advantage of the reliability and large storage capacity of cloud providers and avoid the need for dedicated server hardware. Clients access the storage through a proxy running on-site, which caches data to provide lower-latency responses and additional opportunities for optimization. We describe some of the optimizations which are necessary to achieve good performance and low cost, including a log-structured design and a secure in-cloud log cleaner. BlueSky supports multiple protocols—both NFS and CIFS—and is portable to different providers.

Rethinking Erasure Codes for Cloud File Systems: Minimizing I/O for Recovery and Degraded Reads
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To reduce storage overhead, cloud file systems are transitioning from replication to erasure codes. This process has revealed new dimensions on which to evaluate the performance of different coding schemes: the amount of data used in recovery and when performing degraded reads. We present an algorithm that finds the optimal number of codeword symbols needed for recovery for any XOR-based erasure code and produces recovery schedules that use a minimum amount of data. We differentiate popular erasure codes based on this criterion and demonstrate that the differences improve I/O performance in practice for the large block sizes used in cloud file systems. Several cloud systems [15, 10] have adopted Reed-Solomon (RS) codes, because of their generality and their ability to tolerate larger numbers of failures. We define a new class of rotated Reed-Solomon codes that perform degraded reads more efficiently than all known codes, but otherwise inherit the reliability and performance properties of Reed-Solomon codes.

NCCloud: Applying Network Coding for the Storage Repair in a Cloud-of-Clouds
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To provide fault tolerance for cloud storage, recent studies propose to stripe data across multiple cloud vendors. However, if a cloud suffers from a permanent failure and loses all its data, then we need to repair the lost data from other surviving clouds to preserve data redundancy. We present a proxy-based system for multiple-cloud storage called NCCloud, which aims to achieve cost-effective repair for a permanent single-cloud failure. NCCloud is built on top of network-coding-based storage schemes called regenerating codes. Specifically, we propose an implementable design for the functional minimum-storage regenerating code (F-MSR), which maintains the same data redundancy level and same storage requirement as in traditional erasure codes (e.g., RAID-6), but uses less repair traffic. We implement a proof-of-concept prototype of NCCloud and deploy it atop local and commercial clouds. We validate the cost effectiveness of FMSR in storage repair over RAID-6, and show that both schemes have comparable response time performance in normal cloud storage operations.

Friday, February 17, 2012
9:00 a.m.–10:20 a.m.

Extracting Flexible, Replayable Models from Large Block Traces
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I/O traces are good sources of information about real-world workloads; replaying such traces is often used to reproduce the most realistic system behavior possible. But traces tend to be large, hard to use and share, and inflexible in representing more than the exact system conditions at the point the traces were captured. Often, however, researchers are not interested in the precise details stored in a bulky trace, but rather in some statistical properties found in the traces—properties that affect their system's behavior under load. We designed and built a system that (1) extracts many desired properties from a large block I/O trace, (2) builds a statistical model of the trace's salient characteristics, (3) converts the model into a concise description in the language of one or more synthetic load generators, and (4) can accurately replay the models in these load generators. Our system is modular and extensible. We experimented with several traces of varying types and sizes. Our concise models are 4–6% of the original trace size, and our modeling and replay accuracy are over 90%.

scc: Cluster Storage Provisioning Informed by Application Characteristics and SLAs
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Storage for cluster applications is typically provisioned based on rough, qualitative characterizations of applications. Moreover, configurations are often selected based on rules of thumb and are usually homogeneous across a deployment; to handle increased load, the application is simply scaled out across additional machines and storage of the same type. As deployments grow larger and storage options (e.g., disks, SSDs, DRAM) diversify, however, current practices are becoming increasingly inefficient in trading off cost versus performance. To enable more cost-effective deployment of cluster applications, we develop scc—a storage configuration compiler for cluster applications. scc automates cluster configuration decisions based on formal specifications of application behavior and hardware properties. We study a range of storage configurations and identify specifications that succinctly capture the trade-offs offered by different types of hardware, as well as the varying demands of application components. We apply scc to three representative applications and find that scc is expressive enough to meet application Service Level Agreements (SLAs) while delivering 2–4.5 savings in cost on average compared to simple scale-out options. scc's advantage stems mainly from its ability to configure heterogeneous—rather than conventional, homogeneous—cluster architectures to optimize cost.

iDedup: Latency-aware, Inline Data Deduplication for Primary Storage
Full paper | Updated full paper, 2/10/12
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Deduplication technologies are increasingly being deployed to reduce cost and increase space-efficiency in corporate data centers. However, prior research has not applied deduplication techniques inline to the request path for latency sensitive, primary workloads. This is primarily due to the extra latency these techniques introduce. Inherently, deduplicating data on disk causes fragmentation that increases seeks for subsequent sequential reads of the same data, thus, increasing latency. In addition, deduplicating data requires extra disk IOs to access on-disk deduplication metadata. In this paper, we propose an inline deduplication solution, iDedup, for primary workloads, while minimizing extra IOs and seeks. Our algorithm is based on two key insights from real-world workloads: i) spatial locality exists in duplicated primary data; and ii) temporal locality exists in the access patterns of duplicated data. Using the first insight, we selectively deduplicate only sequences of disk blocks. This reduces fragmentation and amortizes the seeks caused by deduplication. The second insight allows us to replace the expensive, on-disk, deduplication metadata with a smaller, in-memory cache. These techniques enable us to tradeoff capacity savings for performance, as demonstrated in our evaluation with real-world workloads. Our evaluation shows that iDedup achieves 60-70% of the maximum deduplication with less than a 5% CPU overhead and a 2-4% latency impact.

11:00 a.m.–Noon

Caching Less for Better Performance: Balancing Cache Size and Update Cost of Flash Memory Cache in Hybrid Storage Systems
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Hybrid storage solutions use NAND flash memory based Solid State Drives (SSDs) as non-volatile cache and traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) as lower level storage. Unlike a typical cache, internally, the flash memory cache is divided into cache space and over-provisioned space, used for garbage collection. We show that balancing the two spaces appropriately helps improve the performance of hybrid storage systems. We show that contrary to expectations, the cache need not be filled with data to the fullest, but may be better served by reserving space for garbage collection. For this balancing act, we present a dynamic scheme that further divides the cache space into read and write caches and manages the three spaces according to the workload characteristics for optimal performance. Experimental results show that our dynamic scheme improves performance of hybrid storage solutions up to the off-line optimal performance of a fixed partitioning scheme. Furthermore, as our scheme makes efficient use of the flash memory cache, it reduces the number of erase operations thereby extending the lifetime of SSDs.

Lifetime Management of Flash-Based SSDs Using Recovery-Aware Dynamic Throttling
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NAND flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) are increasingly popular in enterprise server systems because of their advantages over hard disk drives such as higher performance and lower power consumption. However, the limited and unpredictable lifetime of SSDs remains to be a serious obstacle to wider adoption of SSDs in enterprise systems. In this paper, we propose a novel recovery-aware dynamic throttling technique, called READY, which guarantees the SSD lifetime required by the enterprise market while exploiting the self-recovery effect of floating-gate transistors. Unlike a static throttling technique, the proposed technique makes throttling decisions dynamically based on the predicted future write demand of a workload so that the required SSD lifetime can be guaranteed with less performance degradation. The proposed READY technique also considers the self-recovery effect of floating-gate transistors which improves the endurance of SSDs, enabling to guarantee the required lifetime with less write throttling. Our experimental results show that the proposed READY technique can improve write performance by 4.4x with less variations on the write time over the existing static throttling technique while guaranteeing the required SSD lifetime.

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Last changed: 15 Feb. 2012 jel