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Evolving Ext4 for Shingled Disks

Abutalib Aghayev
Garth Gibson
Peter Desnoyers
15th USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST 17) (2017), pp. 105-120


Drive-Managed SMR (ShingledMagnetic Recording) disks offer a plug-compatible higher-capacity replacement for conventional disks. For non-sequential workloads, these disks show bimodal behavior: After a short period of high throughput they enter a continuous period of low throughput. We introduce ext4-lazy, a small change to the Linux ext4 file system that significantly improves the throughput in both modes. We present benchmarks on four different drive-managed SMR disks from two vendors, showing that ext4-lazy achieves 1.7-5.4x improvement over ext4 on a metadata-light file server benchmark. On metadata-heavy benchmarks it achieves 2-13x improvement over ext4 on drive-managed SMR disks as well as on conventional disks.

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