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16.5: Disk Drive Scheduling

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    Input/output (I/O) scheduling is the method that computer operating systems use to decide in which order the block I/O operations will be submitted to storage volumes. I/O scheduling is sometimes called disk scheduling.

    I/O scheduling

    I/O scheduling usually has to work with hard disk drives that have long access times for requests placed far away from the current position of the disk head (this operation is called a seek). To minimize the effect this has on system performance, most I/O schedulers implement a variant of the elevator algorithm that reorders the incoming randomly ordered requests so the associated data would be accessed with minimal arm/head movement.

    I/O schedulers can have many purposes depending on the goals; common purposes include the following

    • To minimize time wasted by hard disk seeks
    • To prioritize a certain processes' I/O requests
    • To give a share of the disk bandwidth to each running process
    • To guarantee that certain requests will be issued before a particular deadline

    Disk Scheduling Algorithms

    First in First Out (also known as First-Come First Served - FCFS)

    In computing and in systems theory, FIFO (an acronym for first in, first out) is a method for organizing the manipulation of a data structure (often, specifically a data buffer) where the oldest (first) entry, or "head" of the queue, is processed first.

    Such processing is analogous to servicing people in a queue area on a first-come, first-served basis, in the same sequence in which they had arrived at the queue's tail.

    The FIFO algorithm is also an operating system scheduling algorithm, which gives every process central processing unit (CPU) time in the order in which it is demanded. FIFO's opposite is LIFO, last-in-first-out, where the youngest entry or "top of the stack" is processed first. A priority queue is neither FIFO or LIFO but may adopt similar behavior temporarily or by default. Queuing theory encompasses these methods for processing data structures, as well as interactions between strict-FIFO queues.

    Shortest seek first

    This is a direct improvement upon a first-come first-served (FCFS) algorithm. The drive maintains an incoming buffer of requests, and tied with each request is a cylinder number of the request. Lower cylinder numbers indicate that the cylinder is closer to the spindle, while higher numbers indicate the cylinder is farther away. The shortest seek first algorithm determines which request is closest to the current position of the head, and then services that request next.

    The shortest seek first algorithm has the direct benefit of simplicity and is clearly advantageous in comparison to the FIFO method, in that overall arm movement is reduced, resulting in lower average response time.

    However, since the buffer is always getting new requests, these can skew the service time of requests that may be farthest away from the disk head's current location, if the new requests are all close to the current location; in fact, starvation may result, with the faraway requests never being able to make progress.

    The elevator algorithm is one way of reducing arm movement/response time, and ensuring consistent servicing of requests.

    Anticipatory scheduling

    "Deceptive idleness" is a situation where a process appears to be finished reading from the disk when it is actually processing data in preparation of the next read operation. This will cause a normal work-conserving I/O scheduler to switch to servicing I/O from an unrelated process. This situation is detrimental to the throughput of synchronous reads, as it degenerates into a seeking workload. Anticipatory scheduling overcomes deceptive idleness by pausing for a short time (a few milliseconds) after a read operation in anticipation of another close-by read requests.

    Anticipatory scheduling yields significant improvements in disk utilization for some workloads. In some situations the Apache web server may achieve up to 71% more throughput from using anticipatory scheduling.

    The Linux anticipatory scheduler may reduce performance on disks using Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ), high performance disks, and hardware RAID arrays. An anticipatory scheduler (AS) was the default Linux kernel scheduler between 2.6.0 and 2.6.18, by which time it was replaced by the CFQ scheduler.

    As of kernel version 2.6.33, the Anticipatory scheduler has been removed from the Linux kernel. The reason being that while useful, the scheduler's effects could be achieved through tuned use of other schedulers (mostly CFQ, which can also be configured to idle with the slice_idle tunable). Since the anticipatory scheduler added maintenance overhead while not improving the workload coverage of the Linux kernel, it was deemed redundant.


    Adapted from:
    "FIFO (computing and electronics)" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
    "Shortest seek first" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
    "Anticipatory scheduling" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    16.5: Disk Drive Scheduling is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Patrick McClanahan.

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