Respecting the block interface – computational storage using virtual objects


Ian F. Adams, John Keys, and Michael P. Mesnier, Intel Labs


Computational storage has remained an elusive goal. Though minimizing data movement by placing computation close to storage has quantifiable benefits, many of the previous attempts failed to take root in industry. They either require a departure from the widespread block protocol to one that is more computationally-friendly (e.g., file, object, or key-value), or they introduce significant complexity (state) on top of the block protocol.

We participated in many of these attempts and have since concluded that neither a departure from nor a significant addition to the block protocol is needed. Here we introduce a block-compatible design based on virtual objects. Like a real object (e.g., a file), a virtual object contains the metadata that is needed to process the data. We show how numerous offloads are possible using virtual objects and, as one example, demonstrate a 99% reduction in the data movement required to “scrub” object storage for bitrot. We also present our early work with erasure coded data which, unlike RAID, can be easily adapted to computational storage using virtual objects.

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@inproceedings {234725,
author = {Ian F. Adams and John Keys and Michael P. Mesnier},
title = {Respecting the block interface {\textendash} computational storage using virtual objects},
booktitle = {11th USENIX Workshop on Hot Topics in Storage and File Systems (HotStorage 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Renton, WA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul