Introduction to Storage Management




Storage Management

 To make the computer system convenient for users, the operating system provides a uniform, logical view of information storage. The operating system abstracts from the physical properties of its storage devices to define a logical storage unit, the file. The operating system maps files onto physical media and accesses these files via the storage devices

File-System Management

File management is one of the most visible components of an operating system. Computers can store information on several different types of physical media. Magnetic disk, optical disk, and magnetic tape are the most common. Each of these media has its own characteristics and physical organization. Each medium is controlled by a device, such as a disk drive or tape drive, that also has its own unique characteristics. These properties include accessspeed, capacity', data-transfer rate, and access method (sequential or random).

A file is a collection of related information defined by its creator. Commonly, files represent programs (both source and object forms) and data. Data files may be numeric, alphabetic, alphanumeric, or binary. Files may be free-form (for example, text files), or they may be formatted rigidly (for example, fixed fields). Clearly, the concept of a file is an extremely general one.

The operating system implements the abstract concept of a file by managing mass storage media, such as tapes and disks, and the devices that control them. Also, files are normally organized into directories to make them easier to useFinally, when multiple users have access to files, it may be desirable to control by whom and in what ways (for example, read, write, append) files may be accessed.

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The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with file management:

• Creating and deleting files

• Creating and deleting directories to organize files

• Supporting primitives for manipulating files and directories

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 • Mapping files onto secondary storage

• Backing up files on stable (nonvolatile) storage media.

Mass-Storage Management

As we have already seen, because main memory is too small to accommodate all data and programs, and because the data that it holds are lost when power is lost, the computer system must provide secondary storage to back up main memory. Most modern computer systems use disks as the principal on-line storage medium for both programs and data. Most programs—including compilers, assemblers, word processors, editors, and formatters—are stored on a disk until loaded into memory and then use the disk as both the source and destination of their processing. Hence, the proper management of disk storage is of central importance to a computer system.

The operating system is responsible for the following activities in connection with disk management:

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  • Free-space management
  • Storage allocation
  • Disk scheduling Because secondary storage is used frequently, it must be used efficiently.

The entire speed of operation of a computer may hinge on the speeds of the disk subsystem and of the algorithms that manipulate that subsystem. There are, however, many uses for storage that is slower and lower in cost (and sometimes of higher capacity) than secondary storage. Backups of disk data, seldom-used data, and long-term archival storage are some examples.

Magnetic tape drives and their tapes and CD and DVD drives and platters are typical tertiary storage devices. The media (tapes and optical platters) vary between WORM (write-once, read-many-times) and RW (read-write) formats.

 Tertiary storage is not crucial to system performance, but it still must be managed. Some operating systems take on this task, while others leave tertiary-storage management to application programs. Some of the functions that operating systems can provide include mounting and unmounting media in devices, allocating and freeing the devices for exclusive use by processes, and migrating data from secondary to tertiary storage. 

Caching

Caching is an important principle of computer systems. Information is normally kept in some storage system (such as main memory). As it is used, it is copied into a faster storage system—the cache—on a temporary basis. When we need a particular piece of information, we first check whether it is in the cache. If it is, we use the information directly from the cache; if it is not, we use the information from the source, putting a copy in the cache under the assumption that we will need it again soon. In addition, internal programmable registers, such as index registers, provide a high-speed cache for main memory.

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Introduction to Storage Management

The programmer (or compiler) implements the register-allocation and register-replacement algorithms to decide which information to keep in registers and which to keep in main memory. There are also caches that are implemented totally in hardware.

 For instance, most systems have an instruction cache to hold the next instructions expected to be executed. Without this cache, the CPU would have to wait several cycles while an instruction was fetched from main memory. For similar reasons, most systems have one or more high-speed data caches in the memory hierarchy. We are not concerned with these hardware-only caches in this text, since they are outside the control of the operating system. Because caches have limited size, cache management is an important design problem. Careful selection of the cache size and of a replacement policy can result in greatly increased performance. See Figure 1.9 for a storage performance comparison in large workstations and small servers that shows the need for caching. Various replacement algorithms for software-controlled caches are discussed in Chapter 9.

 Main memory can be viewed as a fast cache for secondary storage, since data in secondary storage must be copied into main memory for use, and data must be in main memory before being moved to secondary storage for safekeeping. The file-system data, which resides permanently on secondary storage, may appear on several levels in the storage hierarchy.

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At the highest level, the operating system may maintain a cache of file-system data in main memory Also, electronic RAM disks (also known as solid-state disks) may be used for high-speed storage that is accessed through the file-system interface. The bulk of secondary storage is on magnetic disks. The magnetic-disk storage, in turn, is often backed up onto magnetic tapes or removable disks to protect against data loss in case of a hard-disk failure. Some systems automatically

Introduction to Storage Management

archive old file data from secondary storage to tertiary storage, such as tape jukeboxes, to lower the storage cost (see Chapter 12). The movement of information between levels of a storage hierarchy may be either explicit or implicit, depending on the hardware design and the controlling operating-system software. For instance, data transfer from cache to CPU and registers is usually a hardware function, with no operating-system intervention. In contrast, transfer of data from disk to memory is usually controlled by the operating system. In a hierarchical storage structure, the same data may appear in different levels of the storage system. For example, suppose that an integer A that is to be incremented by 1 is located in file B, and file B resides on magnetic disk.

 The increment operation proceeds by first issuing an I/O operation to copy the disk block on which A resides to main memory. This operation is followed by copying A to the cache and to an internal register. Thus, the copy of A appears in several places: on the magnetic disk, in main memory, in the cache, and in an internal register (see Figure 1.10). Once the increment takes place in the internal register, the value of A differs in the various storage systems. The value of A becomes the same only after the new value of A is written from the internal register back to the magnetic disk. In a computing environment where only one process executes at a time, this arrangement poses no difficulties, since an access to integer A will always be to the copy at the highest level of the hierarchy. However, in a multitasking environment, where the CPU is switched back and forth among various processes, extreme care must be taken to ensure that, if several processes wish to access A, then each of these processes will obtain the most recently updated value of A.

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The situation becomes more complicated in a multiprocessor environment where, in addition to maintaining internal registers, each of the CPUs also contains a local cache. In such an environment, a copy of A may exist simultaneously in several caches. Since the various CPUs can all execute concurrently, we must make sure that an update to the value of A in one cache is immediately reflected in all other caches where A resides. This situation is called cache coherency, and it is usually a hardware problem (handled below the operating-system level). In a distributed environment, the situation becomes even more complex. In this environment, several copies (or replicas) of the same file can be kept on different computers that are distributed in space. Since the various replicas may be accessed and updated concurrently, some distributed systems ensure that, when a replica is updated in one place, all other replicas are brought up to date as soon as possible. There are various ways to achieve this guarantee, as we discuss in Chapter 17.

I/O Systems

 One of the purposes of an operating system is to hide the peculiarities of specific hardware devices from the user. For example, in UNIX, the peculiarities of I/O devices are hidden from the bulk of the operating system itself by the I/O subsystem. The I/O subsystem consists of several components

 • A memory-management component that includes buffering, caching, and spooling

 • A general device-driver interface

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 • Drivers for specific hardware devices Only the device driver knows the peculiarities of the specific device to which it is assigned. We discussed in Section 1.2.3 how interrupt handlers and device drivers are used in the construction of efficient I/O subsystems.



Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: Memory Management The main memory is central to the operation of a modern computer system. Main memory is a large array of words or bytes, ranging in size from hundreds of thousands to billions. Each word or byte has its own address. Main memory is a repository of quickly accessible data shared by the CPU and I/O devices. The central processor reads instructions from main memory during the instruction-fetch cycle and both reads and writes data from main memory during the data-fetch cycle (on a Von Neumann architecture). The main memory is generally the only large storage device that the CPU is able to address and access directly. view more..
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Ans: Programmer Interface The Win32 API is the fundamental interface to the capabilities of Windows XP. This section describes five main aspects of the Win32 API: access to kernel objects, sharing of objects between processes, process management, interprocess communication, and memory management. view more..
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Ans: Atomic Transactions The mutual exclusion of critical sections ensures that the critical sections are executed atomically. That is, if two critical sections are executed concurrently, the result is equivalent to their sequential execution in some unknown order. Although this property is useful in many application domains, in many cases we would like to make sure that a critical section forms a single logical unit of work that either is performed in its entirety or is not performed at all. An example is funds transfer, in which one account is debited and another is credited. Clearly, it is essential for data consistency either that both the credit and debit occur or that neither occur. Consistency of data, along with storage and retrieval of data, is a concern often associated with database systems. Recently, there has been an upsurge of interest in using database-systems techniques in operating systems. view more..
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Ans: Storage Management To make the computer system convenient for users, the operating system provides a uniform, logical view of information storage. The operating system abstracts from the physical properties of its storage devices to define a logical storage unit, the file. The operating system maps files onto physical media and accesses these files via the storage devices view more..
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Ans: Protection and Security If a computer system has multiple users and allows the concurrent execution of multiple processes, then access to data must be regulated. For that purpose, mechanisms ensure that files, memory segments, CPU, and other resources can be operated on by only those processes that have gained proper authorization from the operating system. For example, memory-addressing hardware ensures that a process can execute only within its own address space. view more..
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Ans: Distributed Systems A distributed system is a collection of physically separate, possibly heterogeneous computer systems that are networked to provide the users with access to the various resources that the system maintains. Access to a shared resource increases computation speed, functionality, data availability, and reliability. Some operating systems generalize network access as a form of file access, with the details of networking contained in the network interface's device driver. view more..
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Ans: Special-Purpose Systems The discussion thus far has focused on general-purpose computer systems that we are all familiar with. There are, however, different classes of computer systems whose functions are more limited and whose objective is to deal with limited computation domains. view more..
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Ans: Operating systems provide a number of services. At the lowest level, system calls allow a running program to make requests from the operating system directly. At a higher level, the command interpreter or shell provides a mechanism for a user to issue a request without writing a program. Commands may come from files during batch-mode execution or directly from a terminal when in an interactive or time-shared mode. System programs are provided to satisfy many common user requests. The types of requests vary according to level. view more..
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Ans: Summary A thread is a flow of control within a process. A multithreaded process contains several different flows of control within the same address space. The benefits of multithreading include increased responsiveness to the user, resource sharing within the process, economy, and the ability to take advantage of multiprocessor architectures. User-level threads are threads that are visible to the programmer and are unknown to the kernel. view more..
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Ans: Motivation A distributed system is a collection of loosely coupled processors interconnected by a communication network. From the point of view of a specific processor in a distributed system, the rest of the processors and their respective resources are remote, whereas its own resources are local. The processors in a distributed system may vary in size and function. They may include small microprocessors, workstations, minicomputers, and large general-purpose computer systems. view more..
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Ans: Summary Multimedia applications are in common use in modern computer systems. Multimedia files include video and audio files, which may be delivered to systems such as desktop computers, personal digital assistants, and cell phones. view more..
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Ans: Summary CPU scheduling is the task of selecting a waiting process from the ready queue and allocating the CPU to it. The CPU is allocated to the selected process by the dispatcher. First-come, first-served (FCFS) scheduling is the simplest scheduling algorithm, but it can cause short processes to wait for very long processes. Shortestjob-first (SJF) scheduling is provably optimal, providing the shortest average waiting time. Implementing SJF scheduling is difficult, however, because predicting the length of the next CPU burst is difficult. view more..
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Ans: Summary It is desirable to be able to execute a process whose logical address space is larger than the available physical address space. Virtual memory is a technique that enables us to map a large logical address space onto a smaller physical memory. Virtual memory allowr s us to run extremely large processes and to raise the degree of multiprogramming, increasing CPU utilization. Further, it frees application programmers from worrying about memory availability. In addition, with virtual memory, several processes can share system libraries and memory. view more..
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Ans: Summary Disk drives are the major secondary-storage I/O devices on most computers. Most secondary storage devices are either magnetic disks or magnetic tapes. Modern disk drives are structured as a large one-dimensional array of logical disk blocks which is usually 512 bytes. Disks may be attached to a computer system in one of two ways: (1) using the local I/O ports on the host computer or (2) using a network connection such as storage area networks. view more..
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Ans: Microsoft designed Windows XP to be an extensible, portable operating system —one able to take advantage of new techniques and hardware. Windows XP supports multiple operating environments and symmetric multiprocessing, including both 32-bit and 64-bit processors and NUMA computers. view more..
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Ans: Summary A deadlock state occurs when two or more processes are waiting indefinitely for an event that can be caused only by one of the waiting processes. There are three principal methods for dealing with deadlocks: • Use some protocol to prevent or avoid deadlocks, ensuring that the system, will never enter a deadlock state. • Allow the system to enter a deadlock state, detect it, and then recover. • Ignore the problem altogether and pretend that deadlocks never occur in the system. The third solution is the one used by most operating systems, including UNIX and Windows view more..
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Ans: Summary A process is a program in execution. As a process executes, it changes state. The state of a process is defined by that process's current activity. Each process may be in one of the following states: new, ready, running, waiting, or terminated. view more..
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Ans: Summary A file is an abstract data type defined and implemented by the operating system. It is a sequence of logical records. A logical record may be a byte, a line (of fixed or variable length), or a more complex data item. The operating system may specifically support various record types or may leave that support to the application program. view more..




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