Monday 23 January 2012

Speed your data access by short stroking

Short stroking is a technique to improve the performance of hard disk drives by reducing the area accessed by the movement disk read heads to the part of the disk where performance is the best. If you can reduce the physical movement of the disk read/write arm it will improve performance. Here's one article in the Tom's Hardware blog which describes the fundamentals. You in effect trade off disk capacity against speed. In the Tom's Hardware blog they are achieving data transfer rates of 157 MB per second. It is not actually a new technique, rather it is rediscovered. I remember studying back in the 1970's about how to improve performance by positioning key files on the fast part of the disks. This was during System Analysis training. Back in those days the system analyst/designer really had to understand computer hardware characteristics! The more recent interpretation of this technique works by changing hardware parameters rather than by careful file placement. However if you allow the wrong type of file to take up residence on the disk the gains can be lost. It is worth paging through the Tom's Hardware article to the conlusion.

There is another article here relating to short stroking Barracuda drives.

As an example it may be an efficient technique if the important database index tables are stored on a short stroked drive. As fast SSD hardware (solid state drives) becomes less expensive the relevance of short stroking will become less, but until then this may be a cost effective approach to reducing disk bottle necks.

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