News Column

Patent Issued for Dynamic Storage Hierarchy Management

August 27, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventors Hamilton, James R. (Bellevue, WA); Sadovsky, Vladimir (Bellevue, WA), filed on January 11, 2013, was published online on August 12, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8806114 is Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Various forms of storage devices allow information to be held over relatively a long period without information degradation. A common storage medium is flash memory; specifically, flash memory is a non-volatile form of storage that retains information without drawing upon a constant source of power. This type of memory is often employed in a variety of consumer electronic devices such as memory cards, universal serial bus (USB), flash drives, personal data assistants (PDAs), digital audio players, digital cameras, mobile phones, and so forth.

"Another common type of non-volatile storage medium is a magnetic disk, which enables information to be recorded according to a magnetization pattern. Similar to other storage media, magnetic disks can be configured in a variety of manners (e.g., Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) as well as employed in many different applications. This type of storage device is commonly used in connection with databases and analog recordings.

"In addition to non-volatile media, volatile forms of storage exist that provide certain benefits that may also be accompanied by particular disadvantages. For example, retrieval times for volatile media are generally faster than that for non-volatile media, and many operations have increased uniformity due to well-established standards. However, a fundamental drawback of volatile storage is that information is stored as electric charge or current flow and is, thus, lost when constant power is not available. A number of solutions have been suggested to mitigate this difficulty such as attaching an alternative power source, yet such solutions necessarily add to production and/or maintenance costs.

"In classic operation, information is stored in one medium and portions of this information are not commonly transferred to another medium. Hence, conventional storage schema are generally subject to both advantages and disadvantages associated with a single, underlying storage medium type."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The following discloses a simplified summary of the specification in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the specification. This summary is not an extensive overview of the specification. It is intended to neither identify key or critical elements of the specification nor delineate the scope of the specification. Its sole purpose is to disclose some concepts of the specification in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is disclosed later.

"The subject matter disclosed and claimed herein, in one aspect thereof, comprises an architecture that can improve memory storage allocation. For example, different memory device types can possess different performance characteristics. In particular, flash memory can have a relatively fast response time and can withstand harsh operation conditions, such as a relatively high number of input/output (I/O) operations per second. In contrast, a hard disk has a relatively slow response time and is sensitive to harsh operation conditions; yet, a hard disk is often less expensive than flash memory in terms of cost per bit stored.

"In classic operation, information is stored in one medium and portions of the information are not commonly transferred to another medium. In contrast, the claimed subject matter can provide optimization for storage that leverages relative advantages associated with memory types, while also compensating for associated disadvantages. For example, data can be monitored or analyzed to determine relevant data attributes, such as the number of references to the data per time (e.g., reference rate). Based upon the data attributes, a comparison can be made of storage characteristics (e.g., relative cost, storage capacity, latency, cache parameters, etc.) for available storage media to identify a storage medium that more optimally matches the data attributes. Accordingly, respective data can be matched with a storage medium that facilitates improved operation of a system with respect to a variety of metrics (e.g., cost, performance, reliability, integrity, volatility, priority . . . ).

"In an aspect of the claimed subject matter, the architecture can operate upon a hierarchy of non-volatile memories (e.g., flash, fast hard disk drive, slow hard disk drive, magnetic tape, etc.), in a manner that differs from split disk configurations where 100% of the information is stored on disk with cache storage above. As opposed to a hybrid disk, the disclosed architecture can allow for storing N pages over M devices, where N and M are integers, and where the M devices have different characteristics and the N pages are stored commonly once; thus, different devices can be used.

"Current market trends focus on improving memory characteristics such that a construct (e.g., application) can have increased performance upon a single memory type. As such, it is counter-intuitive to place information from a single construct upon multiple memory types. However, there are unexpected results of the claimed subject matter. For example, a cost-effective system that allows an application to operate at an unexpected efficiency level while placed on multiple memory mediums. Accordingly, the claimed subject matter teaches against conventional wisdom and current market trends.

"The following description and the annexed drawings set forth certain illustrative aspects of the specification. These aspects are indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the specification can be employed. Other advantages and novel features of the specification will become apparent from the following detailed description of the specification when considered in conjunction with the drawings."

For additional information on this patent, see: Hamilton, James R.; Sadovsky, Vladimir. Dynamic Storage Hierarchy Management. U.S. Patent Number 8806114, filed January 11, 2013, and published online on August 12, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Microsoft Corporation.

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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