On-line Data Compression in a Log-structured File System

Michael Burrows, Charles Jerian, Butler Lampson, and Timothy Mann


Citation: M. Burrows, C. Jerian, B. Lampson, and T. Mann. On-line data compression in a log-structured file system. Proc. Fifth International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, (ASPLOS-V), 12-15 October, 1992, ACM Sigplan Notices 27, 9 (Sept. 1992), pp 2-9.

Links: Abstract, Postscript of SRC technical report, Acrobat of SRC technical report, Acrobat as published. Here is an HTML version created by OCR for the benefit of search engines; it is not meant for human consumption.

Email: blampson@microsoft.com. This paper is at http://research.microsoft.com.



We have incorporated on-line data compression into the low levels of a log-structured file system (Rosenblum’s Sprite LFS). Each block of data or meta-data is compressed as it is written to the disk and decompressed as it is read. The log-structuring overcomes the problems of allocation and fragmentation for variable-sized blocks. We observe compression factors ranging from 1.6 to 2.2, using algorithms running from 1.7 to 0.4 MBytes per second in software on a DECstation 5000/200. System performance is degraded by a few percent for normal activities (such as compiling or editing), and as much as a factor of 1.6 for file system intensive operations (such as copying multi-megabyte files). Hardware compression devices mesh well with this design. Chips are already available that operate at speeds exceeding disk transfer rates, which indicates that hardware compression would not only remove the performance degradation we observed, but might well increase the effective disk transfer rate beyond that obtainable from a system without compression.