Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Automated Disk Drive Characterization

Jiri Schindler, Gregory R. Ganger

December 1999

Keywords: Disk performance characterization, disk modeling, file systems

DIXtrac is a program that automatically characterizes the performance of modern disk drives. This paper describes and validates DIXtrac's algorithms, which extract accurate values for over 100 performance-critical parameters in 2 -- 6 minutes without human intervention or special hardware support. The extracted data include detailed layout and geometry information, mechanical timings, cache management policies, and command processing overheads. DIXtrac is validated by configuring a detailed disk simulator with its extracted parameters; in most cases, the resulting accuracies match those of the most accurate disk simulators reported in the literature. To date, DIXtrac has been successfully used on over 20 disk drives, including eight different models from four different manufacturers.

22 pages

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