Better I/O Through Byte-Addressable, Persistent Memory

Jeremy Condit, Edmund B Nightingale, Christopher Frost, Engin Ipek, Benjamin Lee, Doug Burger, Derrick Coetzee

Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP '09) |

Published by Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.

Modern computer systems have been built around the assumption that persistent storage is accessed via a slow, block-based interface. However, new byte-addressable, persistent memory technologies such as phase change memory (PCM) offer fast, fine-grained access to persistent storage.

In this paper, we present a file system and a hardware architecture that are designed around the properties of persistent, byteaddressable memory. Our file system, BPFS, uses a new technique called short-circuit shadow paging to provide atomic, fine-grained updates to persistent storage. As a result, BPFS provides strong reliability guarantees and offers better performance than traditional file systems, even when both are run on top of byte-addressable, persistent memory. Our hardware architecture enforces atomicity and ordering guarantees required by BPFS while still providing the performance benefits of the L1 and L2 caches.

Since these memory technologies are not yet widely available, we evaluate BPFS on DRAM against NTFS on both a RAM disk and a traditional disk. Then, we use microarchitectural simulations to estimate the performance of BPFS on PCM. Despite providing strong safety and consistency guarantees, BPFS on DRAM is typically twice as fast as NTFS on a RAM disk and 4-10 times faster than NTFS on disk. We also show that BPFS on PCM should be significantly faster than a traditional disk-based file system.