In the near future, storage technology advances are expected to provide nonvolatile byte-addressable memory (NVM) for general purpose computing. These new technologies provide high density storage and speeds only slightly slower than DRAM, and are consequently presumed by industry to be used as main memory storage. We believe that the common availability of fast NVM storage will have a significant impact on all levels of the computing hierarchy. Such a technology can be leveraged by an assortment of common applications, and will require significant changes to both operating systems and systems library code. Existing software for durable storage is a poor match for NVM, as it both assumes a larger granularity of access and a higher latency overhead.
Our thesis is that exploiting this new byte-addressable and nonvolatile technology requires a significant redesign of current systems, and that by designing systems that are tailored to NVM specifically we can realize performance gains. This thesis extends existing system software for understanding and using nonvolatile main memory. In particular, we propose to understand durability as a shared memory construct, instead of an I/O construct, and consequently will focus particularly on concurrent applications.
The work covered here builds theoretical and practical infrastructure for using nonvolatile main memory. At the theory level, we explore what it means for a concurrent data structure to be “correct” when its state can reside in nonvolatile memory, propose novel designs and design philosophies for data structures that meet these correctness criteria, and demonstrate that all nonblocking data structures can be easily transformed into persistent, correct, versions of themselves. At the practical level, we explore how to give programmers systems for manipulating persistent memory in a consistent manner, thereby avoiding inconsistencies after a crash. Combining these two ideas, we also explore how to compose data structure operations into larger, consistent operation in persistence.