Write-Behind Logging

Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment, Vol. 10, No. 4

Joy Arulraj, Matthew Perron, Andrew Pavlo

Carnegie Mellon University


The design of the logging and recovery components of database management systems (DBMSs) has always been influenced by the difference in the performance characteristics of volatile (DRAM) and non-volatile storage devices (HDD/SSDs). The key assumption has been that non-volatile storage is much slower than DRAM and only supports block-oriented read/writes. But the arrival of new nonvolatile memory (NVM) storage that is almost as fast as DRAM with fine-grained read/writes invalidates these previous design choices.

This paper explores the changes that are required in a DBMS to leverage the unique properties of NVM in systems that still include volatile DRAM. We make the case for a new logging and recovery protocol, called write-behind logging, that enables a DBMS to recover nearly instantaneously from system failures. The key idea is that the DBMS logs what parts of the database have changed rather than how it was changed. Using this method, the DBMS flushes the changes to the database before recording them in the log. Our evaluation shows that this protocol improves a DBMS’s transactional throughput by 1.3×, reduces the recovery time by more than two orders of magnitude, and shrinks the storage footprint of the DBMS on NVM by 1.5×. We also demonstrate that our logging protocol is compatible with standard replication schemes.





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