``DiskSeen: exploiting disk layout and access history to enhance I/O prefetch"
Xiaoning Ding, Song Jiang, Feng Chen, Kei Davis, and Xiaodong Zhang
Proceedings of the 2007 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, (USENIX'07),
Santa Clara, California, June 17-22, 2007.
Current disk prefetch policies in major operating systems track access
patterns at the level of the file abstraction. While this is useful for
exploiting application-level access patterns, file-level prefetching cannot
realize the full performance improvements achievable by prefetching.
There are two reasons for this. First, certain prefetch opportunities can
only be detected by knowing the data layout on disk, such as the contiguous
layout of file metadata or data from multiple files. Second, non-sequential
access of disk data (requiring disk head movement) is much slower than
sequential access, and the penalty for mis-prefetching a `random' block,
relative to that of a sequential block, is correspondingly more costly.
To overcome the inherent limitations of prefetching at the logical file level,
we propose to perform prefetching directly at the level of disk layout, and
in a portable way. Our technique, called DiskSeen, is intended to be
supplementary to, and to work synergistically with, file-level prefetch
policies, if present. DiskSeen tracks the locations and access times of disk
blocks, and based on analysis of their temporal and spatial relationships,
seeks to improve the sequentiality of disk accesses and overall prefetching
Our implementation of the DiskSeen scheme in the Linux 2.6 kernel shows that
it can significantly improve the effectiveness of prefetching, reducing
execution times by 20%-53% for micro-benchmarks and real applications such
as grep, CVS, and TPC-H.