University of Cambridge > > Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar > Disk|Crypt|Net: rethinking the stack for high-performance video streaming

Disk|Crypt|Net: rethinking the stack for high-performance video streaming

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Liang Wang.

Conventional operating systems used for video streaming employ an in-memory disk buffer cache to mask the high latency and low throughput of disks. However, data from Netflix servers show that this cache has a low hit rate, so does little to improve throughput. Latency is not the problem it once was either, due to PCIe-attached flash storage. With memory bandwidth increasingly becoming a bottleneck for video servers, especially when end-to-end encryption is considered, we revisit the interaction between storage and networking for video streaming servers in pursuit of higher performance. We show how to build high-performance userspace network services that saturate existing hardware while serving data directly from disks, with no need for a traditional disk buffer cache. Employing netmap, and developing a new diskmap service, which provides safe high-performance userspace direct I/O access to NVMe devices, we amortize system overheads by utilizing efficient batching of outstanding I/O requests, process-to-completion, and zerocopy operation. We demonstrate how a buffer-cache-free design is not only practical, but required in order to achieve efficient use of memory bandwidth on contemporary microarchitectures. Minimizing latency between DMA and CPU access by integrating storage and TCP control loops allows many operations to access only the last-level cache rather than bottlenecking on memory bandwidth. We illustrate the power of this design by building Atlas, a video streaming web server that outperforms state-of-the-art configurations, and achieves ~72Gbps of plaintext or encrypted network traffic using a fraction of the available CPU cores on commodity hardware.


Ilias is a PhD student at the Computer Laboratory, under the supervision of Robert Watson and Mark Handley. His research interests include operating systems and high-performance network/storage stacks.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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