Temporary files: RAM or disk?
Posted Jun 5, 2012 15:33 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata
In reply to: Temporary files: RAM or disk?
Parent article: Temporary files: RAM or disk?
reading and writing swap tends to be rather inefficient compared to normal I/O (data ends up very fragmented on disk, bearing no resemblance to any organization that it had in ram, let alone the files being stored in tempfs.
I believe the tendency is the other way around. One of the selling points for tmpfs for me is that reading and writing swap is more efficient than reading and writing a general purpose filesystem. First, there aren't inodes and directories to pull the head around. Second, writes stream out sequentially on disk, eliminating more seeking.
Finally, I believe it's usually the case that, for large chunks of data, the data is referenced in the same groups in which it becomes least recently used. A process loses its timeslice and its entire working set ages out at about the same time and ends up in the same place on disk. When it gets the CPU again, it faults in its entire working set at once. For a large temporary file, I believe it is even more pronounced - unlike many files, a temporary file is likely to be accessed in passes from beginning to end. I believe general purpose filesystems are only now gaining the ability to do the same placement as swapping in this case; to the extent that they succeed, though, they can at best reach parity.
In short, reading and writing swap has been (unintentionally) optimized for the access patterns of temporary files, where general purpose filesystems are not.
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