The performance impact of kernel prefetching on buffer cache replacement algorithms

Ali R. Butt, Chris Gniady, Y. Charlie Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A fundamental challenge in improving file system performance is to design effective block replacement algorithms to minimize buffer cache misses. Despite the well-known interactions between prefetching and caching, almost all buffer cache replacement algorithms have been proposed and studied comparatively, without taking into account file system prefetching, which exists in all modern operating systems. This paper shows that such kernel prefetching can have a significant impact on the relative performance in terms of the number of actual disk I/Os of many well-known replacement algorithms; it can not only narrow the performance gap but also change the relative performance benefits of different algorithms. Moreover, since prefetching can increase the number of blocks clustered for each disk I/O and, hence, the time to complete the I/O, the reduction in the number of disk I/Os may not translate into proportional reduction in the total I/O time. These results demonstrate the importance of buffer caching research taking file system prefetching into consideration and comparing the actual disk I/Os and the execution time under different replacement algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-908
Number of pages20
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computers
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • File systems management
  • Measurements
  • Metrics/measurement
  • Operating systems
  • Operating systems performance
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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