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The ADvanced Systems Laboratory (ADSL)
Publication abstract

Semantically-Smart Disk Systems

Muthian Sivathanu, Vijayan Prabhakaran,
Florentina I. Popovici, Timothy E. Denehy,
Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau, Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau
Department of Computer Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison


We propose and evaluate the concept of a Semantically-Smart Disk System (SDS). As opposed to a traditional ``smart'' disk, an SDS has detailed knowledge of how the file system above is using the disk system, including information about the on-disk data structures of the file system. An SDS exploits this knowledge to transparently improve performance or enhance functionality beneath a standard block read/write interface. To automatically acquire this knowledge, we introduce a tool (EOF) that can discover file-system structure for certain types of file systems, and then show how an SDS can exploit this knowledge on-line to understand file-system behavior. We quantify the space and time overheads that are common in an SDS, showing that they are not excessive. We then study the issues surrounding SDS construction by designing and implementing a number of prototypes as case studies; each case study exploits knowledge of some aspect of the file system to implement powerful functionality beneath the standard SCSI interface. Overall, we find that a surprising amount of functionality can be embedded within an SDS, hinting at a future where disk manufacturers can compete on enhanced functionality and not simply cost-per-byte and performance.

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