NVTM: A Transactional Interface for Next-Generation Non-Volatile Memories

Joel Coburn, Adrian Caulfield, Laura Grupp, Ameen Akel and Steven Swanson
September 24, 2009

Advanced non-volatile, solid-state storage technologies such as phase change memory promise enormous gains in performance relative to both conventional disks and flash memory-based storage devices. However, existing abstractions for accessing non-volatile data (i.e., file systems and the associated system calls) cannot exploit the performance and flexibility these memories offer. We describe a new, transaction-based interface that allows programmers to implement fast, scalable, durable data structures that are robust in the face of unexpected system failures. The interface maps the non-volatile storage directly into the application's address space and allows volatile and non-volatile data structures to interact seamlessly in programs. Since the interface removes the operating system from the critical path of basic read and write operations, it can realize up to 2350X speedups relative to transactional storage systems that target the conventional file-based interface. We describe the system's internal operation, describe the support it requires from hardware, and quantify its performance.

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