HintStor: A Framework to Study I/O Hints in Heterogeneous Storage

Xiongzi Ge, Zhichao Cao, David H.C. Du, Pradeep Ganesan, Dennis Hahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


To bridge the giant semantic gap between applications and modern storage systems, passing a piece of tiny and useful information, called I/O access hints, from upper layers to the storage layer may greatly improve application performance and ease data management in storage systems. This is especially true for heterogeneous storage systems that consist of multiple types of storage devices. Since ingesting external access hints will likely involve laborious modifications of legacy I/O stacks, it is very hard to evaluate the effect and take advantages of access hints. In this article, we design a generic and flexible framework, called HintStor, to quickly play with a set of I/O access hints and evaluate their impacts on heterogeneous storage systems. HintStor provides a new application/user-level interface, a file system plugin, and performs data management with a generic block storage data manager. We demonstrate the flexibility of HintStor by evaluating four types of access hints: File system data classification, stream ID, cloud prefetch, and I/O task scheduling on a Linux platform. The results show that HintStor can execute and evaluate various I/O access hints under different scenarios with minor modifications to the kernel and applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalACM Transactions on Storage
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by NSF I/UCRC Center for Research in Intelligent Storage with NetApp collaboration and the following NSF awards 1439662 and 1812537. Authors’ addresses: X. Ge, NetApp, 7301 Kit Creek Road, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709, USA; email: xiongzi@ netapp.com; Z. Cao, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 4-192 Keller Hall, 200 Union Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA; email: caoxx380@umn.edu; D. H. C. Du, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 4-192 Keller Hall, 200 Union Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA; email: du@umn.edu; P. Ganesan, 7886 169 Street, Surrey, BC, V4N0J4, Canada Dennis Hahn, 13111 Castlewood Cir, Wichita, KS 67230 USA; email: gp.esgan@gmail.com. Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from permissions@acm.org. © 2022 Association for Computing Machinery. 1553-3077/2022/03-ART18 $15.00 https://doi.org/10.1145/3489143

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Association for Computing Machinery.


  • I/O access hints
  • block storage
  • data management
  • heterogeneous storage systems


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