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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

2006 USENIX Annual Technical Conference Abstract

Pp. 109–114 of the Proceedings

Transparent Contribution of Memory

James Cipar, Mark D. Corner, and Emery D. Berger, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


A multitude of research and commercial projects have proposed contributory systems that utilize wasted CPU cycles, idle memory and free disk space found on end-user machines. These applications include distributed computation such as signal processing and protein folding, peer-to-peer backup, and large-scale distributed storage. While users are generally willing to give up unused CPU cycles, the use of memory by contributory applications deters participation in such systems. Contributory applications pollute the machine's memory, forcing user pages to be evicted to disk. This paging can disrupt user activity for seconds or even minutes.

In this paper, we describe the design and implementation of an operating system mechanism to support transparent contribution of memory. A transparent memory manager (TMM) controls memory usage by contributory applications, ensuring that users will not notice an increase in the miss rate of their applications. TMM is able to protect user pages such that page miss overhead is limited to 1.7%, while donating hundreds of megabytes of memory.

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Last changed: 15 Sept. 2006 ch