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SubjectRe: Journaling pointless with today's hard disks?
On Tuesday 27 November 2001 11:50, Matthias Andree wrote:
> Please fix your domain in your mailer, localhost.localdomain is prone
> for Message-ID collisions.

I'm using Kmail talking to @home's mail server (to avoid the evil behavior
sendmail has behind an IP masquerading firewall that triggers every spam
filter in existence), so if either one of them cares about the hostname of my
laptop ("driftwood", but apparently not being set right by Red Hat's
scripts), then something's wrong anyway.

But let's see...

Ah fun, if you change the hostname of the box, either X or KDE can't pop up
any more new applicatons until you exit X and restart it. Brilliant.
Considering how many Konqueror windows I have open at present on my 6
desktops, I think I'll leave fixing this until later in the evening. But
thanks for letting me know something's up...

> Note, the power must RELIABLY last until all of the data has been
> writen, which includes reassigning, seeking and the like, just don't do
> it if you cannot get a real solution.

A) At most 1 seek to a track other than the one you're on.

B) If sectors have been reassigned outside of this track to a "recovery"
track, then that counts as a seperate track. Tough.

The point of the buffer is to let the OS feed data to the write head as fast
as it can write it (which unbuffered ATA can't do because individual requests
are smaller than individual tracks). You need a small buffer to avoid
blocking between each and every ATA write while the platter rotates back into
position. So you always let it have a little more data so it knows what to
do next and can start work on it immediately (doing that next seek, writing
that next sector as it passes under the head without having to wait for it to
rotate around again.)

That's it. No more buffer than does good at the hardware level for request
merging and minimizing seek latency. Any buffering over and above that is
the operating system's job.

Yes the hardware can do a slightly better job with its own elevator algorithm
using intimate knowledge of on-disk layout, but the OS can do a fairly decent
job as long as logical linear sectors are linearly arranged on disk too.
(Relocating bad sectors breaks this, but not fatally. It causes extra seeks
in linear writes anyway where the elevator ISN'T involved, so you've already
GOT a performance hit. And it just screws up the OS's elevator, not the rest
of the scheme. You still have the current track written as one lump and an
immediate seek to the other track, at which point the drive electronics can
be accepting blocks destined for the track you seek back to.)

The advantage of limiting the amount of data buffered to current track plus
one other is you have a fixed amount of work to do on a loss of power. One
seek, two track writes, and a spring-driven park. The amount of power this
takes has a deterministic upper bound. THAT is why you block before
accepting more data than that.

> battery-backed CMOS,
> NVRAM/Flash/whatever which lasts a couple of months should be fine
> though, as long as documents are publicly available that say how long
> this data lasts. Writing to disk will not work out unless you can keep
> the drive going for several seconds which will require BIG capacitors,
> so that's no option, you must go for NVRAM/Flash or something.

You dont' need several seconds. You need MILISECONDS. Two track writes and
one seek. This is why you don't accept more data than that before blocking.
Your worst case scenario is a seek from near where the head parks to the
other end of the disk, then the spring can pull it back. This should be well
under 50 miliseconds. Your huge ram cache is there for reads. For writes
you don't accept more than you can reliably flush if you want anything
approaching reliability. If you're only going to spring for a capacitor as
your power failure hedge, than the amount of write cache you can accept is
small, but it turns out you only need a tiny amount of cache to get 90% of
the benefit of write cacheing (merging writes into full tracks and seeking
immediately to the next track).

> OTOH, the OS must reliably know when something went wrong (even with
> good power it has a right to know), and preferably this scheme should
> not involve disabling the write cache, so TCQ or something mandatory
> would be useful (not sure if it's mandatory in current ATA standards).

We're talking about what happens to the drive on a catastrophic power
failure. (Even with a UPS, this can happen if your case fan jams and your
power supply catches fire and burns through a wire, Although most server side
hosting facilities aren't that dusty, there's always worn bearings and other
such fun things. And in a desktop environment, spilled sodas.) Currently,
there are drives out there that stop writing a sector in the middle, leaving
a bad CRC at the hardware level. This isn't exactly graceful. At the other
end, drives with huge caches discard the contents of cache which a journaling
filesystem thinks are already on disk. This isn't graceful either.

> If a block has first been reported written OK and the disk later reports
> error, it must send the block back (incompatible with any current ATA
> draft I had my hands on), so I think tagged commands which are marked
> complete only after write+verify are the way to go.

If a block goes bad WHILE power is failing, you're screwed. This is just a
touch unlikely. It will happen to somebody out there someday, sure. So will
alpha particle decay corrupting a sector that was long ago written to the
drive correctly. Designing for that is not practical. Recovering after the
fact might be, but that doesn't mean you get your data back.

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