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SubjectRe: [dm-devel] Announcement: STEC EnhanceIO SSD caching software for Linux kernel
Suppose I could fill out the bcache version...

On Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 05:52:00PM +0800, Amit Kale wrote:
> Hi Joe, Kent,
> [Adding Kent as well since bcache is mentioned below as one of the contenders for being integrated into mainline kernel.]
> My understanding is that these three caching solutions all have three principle blocks.
> 1. A cache block lookup - This refers to finding out whether a block was cached or not and the location on SSD, if it was.
> 2. Block replacement policy - This refers to the algorithm for replacing a block when a new free block can't be found.
> 3. IO handling - This is about issuing IO requests to SSD and HDD.
> 4. Dirty data clean-up algorithm (for write-back only) - The dirty data clean-up algorithm decides when to write a dirty block in an SSD to its original location on HDD and executes the copy.
> When comparing the three solutions we need to consider these aspects.
> 1. User interface - This consists of commands used by users for creating, deleting, editing properties and recovering from error conditions.
> 2. Software interface - Where it interfaces to Linux kernel and applications.

Both done with sysfs, at least for now.

> 3. Availability - What's the downtime when adding, deleting caches, making changes to cache configuration, conversion between cache modes, recovering after a crash, recovering from an error condition.

All of that is done at runtime, without any interruption. bcache doesn't
distinguish between clean and unclean shutdown, which is nice because it
means the recovery code gets tested. Registering a cache device takes on
the order of half a second, for a large (half terabyte) cache.

> 4. Security - Security holes, if any.

Hope there aren't any!

> 5. Portability - Which HDDs, SSDs, partitions, other block devices it works with.

Any block device.

> 6. Persistence of cache configuration - Once created does the cache configuration stay persistent across reboots. How are changes in device sequence or numbering handled.

Persistent. Device nodes are not stable across reboots, same as say scsi
devices if they get probed in a different order. It does persist a label
in the backing device superblock which can be used to implement stable
device nodes.

> 7. Persistence of cached data - Does cached data remain across reboots/crashes/intermittent failures. Is the "sticky"ness of data configurable.

Persists across reboots. Can't be switched off, though it could be if
there was any demand.

> 8. SSD life - Projected SSD life. Does the caching solution cause too much of write amplification leading to an early SSD failure.

With LRU, there's only so much you can do to work around the SSD's FTL,
though bcache does try; allocation is done in terms of buckets, which
are on the order of a megabyte (configured when you format the cache
device). Buckets are written to sequentially, then rewritten later all
at once (and it'll issue a discard before rewriting a bucket if you flip
it on, it's not on by default because TRIM = slow).

Bcache also implements fifo cache replacement, and with that write
amplification should never be an issue.

> 9. Performance - Throughput is generally most important. Latency is also one more performance comparison point. Performance under different load classes can be measured.
> 10. ACID properties - Atomicity, Concurrency, Idempotent, Durability. Does the caching solution have these typical transactional database or filesystem properties. This includes avoiding torn-page problem amongst crash and failure scenarios.


> 11. Error conditions - Handling power failures, intermittent and permanent device failures.

Power failures and device failures yes, intermittent failures are not
explicitly handled.

> 12. Configuration parameters for tuning according to applications.

Lots. The most important one is probably sequential bypass - you don't
typically want to cache your big sequential IO, because rotating disks
do fine at that. So bcache detects sequential IO and bypasses it with a
configurable threshold.

There's also stuff for bypassing more data if the SSD is overloaded - if
you're caching many disks with a single SSD, you don't want the SSD to
be the bottleneck. So it tracks latency to the SSD and cranks down the
sequential bypass threshold if it gets too high.

> We'll soon document EnhanceIO behavior in context of these aspects. We'll appreciate if dm-cache and bcache is also documented.
> When comparing performance there are three levels at which it can be measured
> 1. Architectural elements
> 1.1. Throughput for 100% cache hit case (in absence of dirty data clean-up)

North of a million iops.

> 1.2. Throughput for 0% cache hit case (in absence of dirty data clean-up)

Also relevant whether you're adding the data to the cache. I'm sure
bcache is slightly slower than the raw backing device here, but if it's
noticable it's a bug (I haven't benchmarked that specifically in ages).

> 1.3. Dirty data clean-up rate (in absence of IO)

Background writeback is done by scanning the btree in the background for
dirty data, and then writing it out in lba order - so the writes are as
sequential as they're going to get. It's fast.

> 2. Performance of architectural elements combined
> 2.1. Varying mix of read/write, sustained performance.

Random write performance is definitely important, as there you've got to
keep an index up to date on stable storage (if you want to handle
unclean shutdown, anyways). Making that fast is non trivial. Bcache is
about as efficient as you're going to get w.r.t. metadata writes,

> 3. Application level testing - The more real-life like benchmark we work with, the better it is.

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