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Flash Caching on the Storage Client
David A. Holland, Elaine Angelino, Gideon Wald, and Margo I. Seltzer, Harvard University
Flash memory has recently become popular as a caching medium. Most uses to date are on the storage server side. We investigate a different structure: flash as a cache on the client side of a networked storage environment. We use trace-driven simulation to explore the design space. We consider a wide range of configurations and policies to determine the potential client-side caches might offer and how best to arrange them.
Our results show that the flash cache writeback policy does not significantly affect performance. Write-through is sufficient; this greatly simplifies cache consistency handling. We also find that the chief benefit of the flash cache is its size, not its persistence. Cache persistence offers additional performance benefits at system restart at essentially no runtime cost. Finally, for some workloads a large flash cache allows using miniscule amounts of RAM for file caching (e.g., 256 KB) leaving more memory available for application use.
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