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December 11, 2009


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Chris M Evans


The physical disk architecture is clearly a pain. The sequential nature of reading and writing data (as you are well aware) is a bottleneck. So, how can you get more I/O in and out of spinning disks?

I guess one option is to not have HDD at all and use SSD. Another could be to consider the following; physical disk partitioning. For disks with multiple platters, make the read-write heads independent and read them using separate I/O pipelines and interfaces. As we get to 1/2/3TB drives, make them logically multiple (say) 500GB drives. Of course the argument against will be cost....

Steve Todd

Good thoughts Chris. Perhaps my diagram of 2009 storage should not have a cylindrical disk because it implies HDD! As you point out, SSD plays a major role. For now we can just consider it a generic icon that represents persistent storage.

Interesting thought about multiple platters / independent heads. But you haven't given that concept a name or an acronym that relates to the challenges of storage in a virtualized environment. I'd be interested to hear what you'd come up with.

Jeff Darcy

I think it could be argued that Eric Brewer's CAP presentation (http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~brewer/cs262b-2004/PODC-keynote.pdf) is the RAID paper for a lot of work going on in cloud storage right now.

Steve Todd

Jeff - although Brewer's presentation is nearly 10 years old, when you look at the 2nd to last slide (New Hard Problems), you can see a preview of some of the problems facing storage in a highly virtualized environment.

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