Using flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) as main memory has been proposed as a practical solution towards scaling memory capacity for data-intensive applications. However, almost all existing approaches rely on the paging mechanism to move data between SSDs and host DRAM. This inevitably incurs significant performance overhead and extra I/O traffic. Thanks to the byte-addressability supported by the PCIe interconnect and the internal memory in SSD controllers, it is feasible to access SSDs in both byte and block granularity today. Exploiting the benefits of SSD’s byte-accessibility in today’s memory-storage hierarchy is, however, challenging as it lacks systems support and abstractions for programs. In this paper, we present FlatFlash, an optimized unified memory-storage hierarchy, to efficiently use byte-addressable SSD as part of the main memory. We extend the virtual memory management to provide a unified memory interface so that programs can access data across SSD and DRAM in byte granularity seamlessly. We propose a lightweight, adaptive page promotion mechanism between SSD and DRAM to gain benefits from both the byte-addressable large SSD and fast DRAM concurrently and transparently, while avoiding unnecessary page movements. Furthermore, we propose an abstraction of byte-granular data persistence to exploit the persistence nature of SSDs, upon which we rethink the design primitives of crash consistency of several representative software systems that require data persistence, such as file systems and databases. Our evaluation with a variety of applications demonstrates that, compared to the current unified memory-storage systems, FlatFlash improves the performance for memory-intensive applications by up to 2.3x, reduces the tail latency for latency-critical applications by up to 2.8x, scales the throughput for transactional database by up to 3.0x, and decreases the meta-data persistence overhead for file systems by up to 18.9x. FlatFlash also improves the cost-effectiveness by up to 3.8x compared to DRAM-only systems, while enhancing the SSD lifetime significantly.
Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS’19),