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Many contemporary disk drives have built-in queues and schedulers. These features can improve I/O performance, by offloading work from the system's main processor, avoiding disk idle time, and taking advantage of vendor-specific disk characteristics. At the same time, they pose challenges for scheduling requests that have real-time requirements, since the operating system has less visibility and control over service times. While it may be possible for an operating system to obtain more predictable real-time performance by bypassing the on-disk queue and scheduler, the diversity and continuing evolution of disk drives make it difficult to extract the necessary detailed timing characteristics of a specific disk, and to generalize that approach to all hard drives. This paper demonstrates three techniques we developed in the Linux operating system to bound real-time request response times for disks with internal queues and schedulers. The first technique is to use the disk's built-in starvation prevention scheme. The second is to prevent requests from being sent to the disk when real-time requests are waiting to be served. The third is to limit the length of the on-disk queue in addition to the second technique. Our results show the ability to guarantee a wide range of desired response times while still allowing the disk to perform scheduling optimizations. These techniques can be generalized to disks from different vendors, as well as other operating systems.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Computer Science in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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