HintStor: A Framework to Study I/O Hints in Heterogeneous Storage


March 10, 2022


Xiongzi Ge, NetApp, Inc.; Zhichao Cao, University of Minnesota; David Hung Chang Du, University of Minnesota; Pradeep Ganesan, NetApp, Inc.; Dennis Hahn, NetApp, Inc.

ACM Transactions on Storage (TOS)

To bridge the giant semantic gap between applications and modern storage systems, passing a piece of tiny and useful information, called I/O access hints, from upper layers to the storage layer may greatly improve application performance and ease data management in storage systems. This is especially true for heterogeneous storage systems that consist of multiple types of storage devices. Since ingesting external access hints will likely involve laborious modifications of legacy I/O stacks, it is very hard to evaluate the effect and take advantages of access hints. In this article, we design a generic and flexible framework, called HintStor, to quickly play with a set of I/O access hints and evaluate their impacts on heterogeneous storage systems. HintStor provides a new application/user-level interface, a file system plugin, and performs data management with a generic block storage data manager. We demonstrate the flexibility of HintStor by evaluating four types of access hints: file system data classification, stream ID, cloud prefetch, and I/O task scheduling on a Linux platform. The results show that HintStor can execute and evaluate various I/O access hints under different scenarios with minor modifications to the kernel and applications.


The paper can be found at: