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July 13-17, 2009

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I/O Topology: Getting to know your storage

Martin K. Petersen (mkp@mkp.net)

The smallest atomic unit a storage device can access is called a sector. With very few exceptions a sector size of 512 bytes has been akin to a mathematical constant in the storage industry for decades. That picture is now rapidly changing with hard drives moving to 4KB sectors. Flash-based solid state drives and enterprise RAID arrays also have alignment and block size requirements above and beyond what we have traditionally been honoring.

This paper will present a set of changes that expose the characteristics of the underlying storage to the Linux kernel. This information can be used by partitioning tools and filesystem formatters to lay out data optimally. Stacking devices like LVM and MD are also supported.



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