Operating Systems

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5.4: Disks

The ideal storage device is

  1. Fast
  2. Big (in capacity)
  3. Cheap
  4. Impossible

When compared to central memory, disks are big and cheap, but slow.

5.4.1: Disk Hardware

Show a real disk opened up and illustrate the components (Done last week).

Consider the following characteristics of a disk (Done last week).

Overlapping I/O operations is important. Many controllers can do overlapped seeks, i.e. issue a seek to one disk while another is already seeking.

As technology increases the space taken to store a bit decreases, i.e.. the bit density increases. This changes the number of cylinders per inch of radius (the cylinders are closer together) and the number of bits per inch along a given track.

(Unofficial) Modern disks cheat and have more sectors on outer cylinders as on inner one. For this course, however, we assume the number of sectors/track is constant. Thus for us there are fewer bits per inch on outer sectors and the transfer rate is the same for all cylinders. The modern disks have electronics and software (firmware) that hides the cheat and gives the illusion of the same number of sectors on all tracks.

(Unofficial) Despite what tanenbaum says later, it is not true that when one head is reading from cylinder C, all the heads can read from cylinder C with no penalty. It is, however, true that the penalty is very small. Notes

  1. Final exam is definitely here at 5pm on 16 dec 2003.
  2. The last lecture 2 Dec. will be give by ernie davis (I will be out of town).
  3. The following tuesday (9 dec.) is an nyu thursday so we do not meet.
  4. I return on the 8th and will have extensive office hours during that week.

Choice of block size

Homework: Consider a disk with an average seek time of 10ms, an average rotational latency of 5ms, and a transfer rate of 10MB/sec.

  1. If the block size is 1KB, how long would it take to read a block?
  2. If the block size is 100KB, how long would it take to read a block?
  3. If the goal is to read 1K, a 1KB block size is better as the remaining 99KB are wasted. If the goal is to read 100KB, the 100KB block size is better since the 1KB block size needs 100 seeks and 100 rotational latencies. What is the minimum size request for which a disk with a 100KB block size would complete faster than one with a 1KB block size?

RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks)

5.4.2: Disk Formatting


5.4.3: Disk Arm Scheduling Algorithms

There are three components to disk response time: seek, rotational latency, and transfer time. Disk arm scheduling is concerned with minimizing seek time by reordering the requests.

These algorithms are relevant only if there are several I/O requests pending. For many PCs this is not the case. For most commercial applications, I/O is crucial and there are often many requests pending.

  1. FCFS (First Come First Served): Simple but has long delays.

  2. Pick: Same as FCFS but pick up requests for cylinders that are passed on the way to the next FCFS request.

  3. SSTF or SSF (Shortest Seek (Time) First): Greedy algorithm. Can starve requests for outer cylinders and almost always favors middle requests.

  4. Scan (Look, Elevator): The method used by an old fashioned jukebox (remember “Happy Days”) and by elevators. The disk arm proceeds in one direction picking up all requests until there are no more requests in this direction at which point it goes back the other direction. This favors requests in the middle, but can't starve any requests.

  5. C-Scan (C-look, Circular Scan/Look): Similar to Scan but only service requests when moving in one direction. When going in the other direction, go directly to the furthest away request. This doesn't favor any spot on the disk. Indeed, it treats the cylinders as though they were a clock, i.e. after the highest numbered cylinder comes cylinder 0.

  6. N-step Scan: This is what the natural implementation of Scan gives.

Minimizing Rotational Latency

Use Scan based on sector numbers not cylinder number. For rotational latency Scan is the same as C-Scan. Why?
Ans: Because the disk only rotates in one direction.

Homework: 24, 25

5.4.4: Error Handling

Disks error rates have dropped in recent years. Moreover, bad block forwarding is normally done by the controller (or disk electronics) so this topic is no longer as important for OS.

5.5: Clocks

Also called timers.

5.5.1: Clock Hardware

5.5.2: Clock Software

  1. Time of day (TOD): Bump a counter each tick (clock interupt). If counter is only 32 bits must worry about overflow so keep two counters: low order and high order.

  2. Time quantum for RR: Decrement a counter at each tick. The quantum expires when counter is zero. Load this counter when the scheduler runs a process. This is presumably what you did for the (processor) scheduling lab.

  3. Accounting: At each tick, bump a counter in the process table entry for the currently running process.

  4. Alarm system call and system alarms:
  5. Profiling

Homework: 27

5.6: Character-Oriented Terminals

5.6.1: RS-232 Terminal Hardware

Quite dated. It is true that modern systems can communicate to a hardwired ascii terminal, but most don't. Serial ports are used, but they are normally connected to modems and then some protocol (SLIP, PPP) is used not just a stream of ascii characters. So skip this section.

Memory-Mapped Terminals

Not as dated as the previous section but it still discusses the character not graphics interface.


Tanenbaum description of keyboards is correct.

5.6.2: Input Software

5.6.3: Output Software

Again too dated and the truth is too complicated to deal with in a few minutes.

5.7: Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs)


5.8: Network Terminals


5.9: Power Management


5.10: Research on Input/Output


5.11: Summary