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SubjectRe: [Patch] document ext3 requirements (was Re: [RFD] Incremental fsck)
On Jan 15, 2008 7:15 PM, Alan Cox <alan@lxorguk.ukuu.org.uk> wrote:
> > Writeback cache on disk in iteself is not bad, it only gets bad if the
> > disk is not engineered to save all its dirty cache on power loss,
> > using the disk motor as a generator or alternatively a small battery.
> > It would be awfully nice to know which brands fail here, if any,
> > because writeback cache is a big performance booster.
>
> AFAIK no drive saves the cache. The worst case cache flush for drives is
> several seconds with no retries and a couple of minutes if something
> really bad happens.
>
> This is why the kernel has some knowledge of barriers and uses them to
> issue flushes when needed.

Indeed, you are right, which is supported by actual measurements:

http://sr5tech.com/write_back_cache_experiments.htm

Sorry for implying that anybody has engineered a drive that can do
such a nice thing with writeback cache.

The "disk motor as a generator" tale may not be purely folklore. When
an IDE drive is not in writeback mode, something special needs to done
to ensure the last write to media is not a scribble.

A small UPS can make writeback mode actually reliable, provided the
system is smart enough to take the drives out of writeback mode when
the line power is off.

Regards,

Daniel


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