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USENIX 2002 Annual Conference - Technical Program Abstract

Bridging the Information Gap in Storage Protocol Stacks

Timothy E. Denehy, Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau, and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison


The functionality and performance innovations in file systems and storage systems have proceeded largely independently from each other over the past years. The result is an information gap: neither has information about how the other is designed or implemented, which can result in a high cost of maintenance, poor performance, duplication of features, and limitations on functionality. To bridge this gap, we introduce and evaluate a new division of labor between the storage system and the file system. We develop an enhanced storage layer known as Exposed RAID (ExRAID), which reveals information to file systems built above; specifically, ExRAID exports the parallelism and failure-isolation boundaries of the storage layer, and tracks performance and failure characteristics on a fine-grained basis. To take advantage of the information made available by ExRAID, we develop an Informed Log-Structured File System (I.LFS). I.LFS is an extension of the standard log-structured file system (LFS) that has been altered to take advantage of the performance and failure information exposed by ExRAID. Experiments reveal that our prototype implementation yields benefits in the management, flexibility, reliability, and performance of the storage system, with only a small increase in file system complexity. For example, I.LFS/ExRAID can incorporate new disks into the system on-the-fly, dynamically balance workloads across the disks of the system, allow for user control of file replication, and delay replication of files for increased performance. Much of this functionality would be difficult or impossible to implement with the traditional division of labor between file systems and storage.
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Last changed: 16 May 2002 ml
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