Non-blocking Writes for File data


Florida International University (FIU) is pursuing commercial partners interested in developing and commercializing Non-blocking Writes for File data.  The ability to cache and buffer file data within an operating system (OS) page cache is a key performance optimization that has been the standard for more than four decades. An OS can seamlessly fetch pages into memory from backing storage when necessary as they are read or written to by a process. The same key design is also implemented in networked file systems whereby a client issues page fetches over the network to a remote filer server. Unfortunately a drawback of this design is that processes are blocked by the OS during the page fetch step. Recent findings have shown that the page fetch step is avoidable in cases where a write to a page is not available in the page cache. This advancement allows the OS to buffer the data temporarily written elsewhere in memory and unblocks the process immediately.

FIU inventors have been able to separate the page fetch policy from the page fetch mechanism and develop non-blocking reads to pages that are not in the file system cache if the data being referenced has been recently written. This design and its executions address the correctness concerns for non-blocking writes with respect to the durability, ordering, and consistency semantics for file system operations.

Performance evaluations revealed:

  • Throughput performance improvements of up to 45.5x across workload types when non-blocking writes were used
  • Non-blocking writes reduced write operation latencies by as much as 65 to 79%
  • The overhead introduced by non-blocking writes is negligible with little or no loss of performance when workloads cannot benefit from non-blocking writes
  • In addition this design provides a starting point for similar implementations in multiple OSs, while also opening up avenues for future developments and enhancements

Most industries that rely heavily on computers for everyday functions such as governments, corporations, academic institutions.

  • Non-blocking writes make page fetches asynchronous and reduce process blocking
  • Non-blocking writes can increase page fetch parallelism
  • Non-blocking writes do not compromise system correctness and application ordering semantics for data write/reads
  • Non-blocking writes do not compromise application and system recovery

For additional information about this technology opportunity, please contact Shantanu Balkundi at or by phone at 305-348-8061 and ask about record IP 1424.