LightTx: A Lightweight Transactional Design in Flash-based SSDs to Support Flexible Transactions

The 32nd IEEE International Conference on Computer Design (ICCD13). October 6-9, 2013,
Ashville, NC, USA.

Youyou Lu*, Jiwu Shuy*, Jia Guo*, Shuai Li*, Onur Mutlu

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

*Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China / Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology, Beijing, China


Flash memory has accelerated the architectural evolution of storage systems with its unique characteristics compared to magnetic disks. The no-overwrite property of flash memory has been leveraged to efficiently support transactions, a commonly used mechanism in systems to provide consistency. However, existing transaction designs embedded in flash-based Solid State Drives (SSDs) have limited support for transaction flexibility, i.e., support for different isolation levels between transactions, which is essential to enable different systems to make tradeoffs between performance and consistency. Since they provide support for only strict isolation between transactions, existing designs lead to a reduced number of on-the-fly requests and therefore cannot exploit the abundant internal parallelism of an SSD. There are two design challenges that need to be overcome to support flexible transactions: (1) enabling a transaction commit protocol that supports parallel execution of transactions; and (2) efficiently tracking the state of transactions that have pages scattered over different locations due to parallel allocation of pages.

In this paper, we propose LightTx to address these two challenges. LightTx supports transaction flexibility using a lightweight embedded transaction design. The design of LightTx is based on two key techniques. First, LightTx uses a commit protocol that determines the transaction state solely inside each transaction (as opposed to having dependencies between transactions that complicate state tracking) in order to support parallel transaction execution. Second, LightTx periodically retires the dead transactions to reduce transaction state tracking cost. Experiments show that LightTx provides up to 20.6% performance improvement due to transaction flexibility. LightTx also achieves nearly the lowest overhead in garbage collection and mapping persistence compared to existing embedded transaction designs.





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