Re: NVM Mapping API
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On We, May 16, 2012 at 21:58, Christian Stroetmann wrote:
On We, May 16, 2012 at 19:35, Matthew Wilcox wrote:Our ST-RAM (see  for the original source of its description) is a concept based on the combination of a writable volatile Random-Access Memory (RAM) chip and a capacitor.On Wed, May 16, 2012 at 10:52:00AM +0100, James Bottomley wrote:On Tue, 2012-05-15 at 09:34 -0400, Matthew Wilcox wrote:There are a number of interesting non-volatile memory (NVM) technologiesbeing developed. Some of them promise DRAM-comparable latencies andbandwidths. At Intel, we've been thinking about various ways to presentthose to software. This is a first draft of an API that supports the operations we see as necessary. Patches can follow easily enough once we've settled on an API.If we start from first principles, does this mean it's usable as DRAM? Meaning do we even need a non-memory API for it? The only difference would be that some pieces of our RAM become non-volatile.I'm not talking about a specific piece of technology, I'm assuming that one of the competing storage technologies will eventually make it to widespread production usage. Let's assume what we have is DRAM with a giant battery on it.
Boaz asked: "What is the difference from say a PCIE DRAM card with battery"? It sits in the RAM slot.Because it is now about 1 year ago when I played around with the conceptual hardware aspects of anUninterruptible Power RAM (UPRAM) like the ST-RAM, I looked in more detail at the software side yesterday and today. So let me please add my first use case that I had in mind last year and coined now:So, while we can use it just as DRAM, we're not taking advantage of the persistent aspect of it if we don't have an API that lets us find the data we wrote before the last reboot. And that sounds like a filesystem to me.No and yes. 1. In the first place it is just a normal DRAM. 2. But due to its nature it has also many aspects of a flash memory. So the use case is for point 1. as a normal RAM module, and for point 2. as a file system, which again can be used 2.1 directly by the kernel as a normal file system, 2.2 directly by the kernel by the PRAMFS 2.3 by the proposed NVMFS, maybe as a shortcut for optimization, and2.4 from the userspace, most potentially by using the standard VFS. Maybe this version 2.4 is the same as point 2.2.Or is there some impediment (like durability, or degradation on rewrite)which makes this unsuitable as a complete DRAM replacement?The idea behind using a different filesystem for different NVM types is that we can hide those kinds of impediments in the filesystem. By the way, did you know DRAM degrades on every write? I think it's on the order of 10^20 writes (and CPU caches hide many writes to heavily-used cache lines), so it's a long way away from MLC or even SLC rates, but it does exist.As I said before, a filesystem for the different NVM types would not be enough. These things are more complex due the possibility that they can be used very flexbily.Alternatively, if it's not really DRAM, I think the UNIX file abstraction makes sense (it's a piece of memory presented as something like a filehandle with open, close, seek, read, write and mmap), but it's less clear that it should be an actual file system. The reason is that to present a VFS interface, you have to already have fixed the format of the actual filesystem on the memory because we can't nestfilesystems (well, not without doing artificial loopbacks). Again, thismight make sense if there's some architectural reason why the flash region has to have a specific layout, but your post doesn't shed any light on this.We can certainly present a block interface to allow using unmodified standard filesystems on top of chunks of this NVM. That's probably not the optimum way for a filesystem to use it though; there's really no point in constructing a bio to carry data down to a layer that's simply going to do a memcpy(). --I also saw the use cases by Boaz that areJournals of other FS, which could be done on top of the NVMFS for example, but is not really what I have in mind, and Execute in place, for which an Elf loader feature is needed. Obviously, this use case was envisioned by me as well.For direct rebooting the checkpointing of standard RAM is also a needed function. The decision what is trashed and what is marked as persistent RAM content has to be made by the RAM experts of the Linux developers or the user. I even think that this is a special use case on its own with many options.
Hybrid Hibernation (HyHi) or alternatively Suspend-to-NVM,which is similar to hybrid sleep and hibernation, but also differs a little bit due to the uninterruptible power feature.
But as it can be seen easily here again, even with this 1 use case exist two paths to handle the NVM that are as:
1. RAM and 2. FS,so that it leads a further time to the discussion, if hibernation should be a kernel or a user space function (see  and  for more information related with the discussion about uswsup (userspace software suspend) and suspend2, and  for uswsup and  for TuxOnIce).
Eventually, there is an interest to reuse some functions or code. Have fun in the sun C. Stroetmann
 ST-RAM www.ontonics.com/innovation/pipeline.htm#st-ram
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