July 28, 2011
EU Project examines the Scalability and Performance of I/O Subsystems in Multicore Platforms
Heraklion, Greece, July 28, 2011 -- IOLANES (www.iolanes.eu) is a EU-funded research project targeted at understanding and improving the I/O performance in modern hardware that employs multicore architectures by adapting or redesigning the I/O stack. Since storage systems are perhaps the most critical component of modern computing infrastructures, the proposed work will benefit many I/O-intensive applications that support activities of businesses, organisations, and individuals alike.
Data storage technology today faces many challenges, including performance inefficiencies, inadequate dependability and integrity guarantees, limited scalability, loss of confidentiality, poor resource sharing, and increased ownership and management costs. IOLanes examines how multicore CPUs can be used to design next generation persistent I/O architectures. The project addresses overheads and scalability issues over multicore CPUs that will allow I/O performance to scale as well as take advantage of additional compute cycles in future multicores. By improving scaling of the I/O stack on modern architectures, the project will result in significant increase in overall I/O efficiency: IOLanes designs I/O subsystems that will be capable of sustaining one order of magnitude more load per storage node than todays’ systems, resulting in a 10x reduction in the number of storage nodes in data centres or a 10x increase in the size of the workload for the same number of storage nodes. Considerable consolidation of resources in data centres and other IT facilities will contribute to more efficient processing of data-centric applications and a greener world. Users of data-oriented services can expect a cost reduction for their services as well as new features that will increase productivity.
IOLanes targets three major challenges: (i) dealing with performance and scalability issues of the I/O stack on multicore architectures, (ii) addressing I/O performance and dynamic resource management issues in virtualised, single-host environments, and (iii) examining on-loading and off-loading trade-offs for advanced functions that are becoming essential in modern storage systems, e.g. compression, protection, encryption, error correction.
IOLanes aims at analysing and addressing these challenges throughout the I/O path. It breaks down the I/O stack in four important layers: (a) application and middleware, (b) virtual machine, (c) host operating system, and (d) embedded storage controller. The proposed work analyses and addresses the inefficiencies associated with these layers on multicore CPUs, by designing an I/O stack that minimizes unnecessary overheads and scales with the number of cores. IOLanes designs and builds a new I/O stack in the Linux kernel that achieves partitioning of shared resources and scales with the number of cores. This stack supports virtualized I/O and offers facilities for transparently using the available cycles in multicore processors for new I/O features. In addition, IOLanes builds a single-point monitoring infrastructure for complex, persistent I/O stacks. The project will demonstrate the benefits of the new design using real-life datacentre-type applications.
The IOLANES project is supported by partners Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH) - Coordinator, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BSC), University of Madrid (UPM), INTEL Performance Labs Ireland, IBM Research Labs in Haifa, and Neurocom S.A. IOLANES is funded by the E.C. under the 7th Framework program and is part of the portfolio of the Embedded Systems Unit - G3 Directorate General Information Society.

Prof. Angelos Bilas
Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH)
Institute of Computer Science (ICS)
100 N. Plastira, Vassilika Vouton, GR-70013, Heraklion, Greece
Tel: +302810391669, Fax: +302810391661, Email: bilas@ics.forth.gr