How to have a checkpoint file using mmap which is only synced to disk manually

Tags: c sync mmap
By : arsenm
Source: Stackoverflow.com
Question!

I need the fastest way to periodically sync file with memory.

What I think I would like is to have an mmap'd file, which is only sync'd to disk manually. I'm not sure how to prevent any automatic syncing from happening.

The file cannot be modified except at the times I manually specify. The point is to have a checkpoint file which keeps a snapshot of the state in memory. I would like to avoid copying as much as possible, since this will be need to called fairly frequently and speed is important.

By : arsenm


Answers

I highly suspect that may not be taken advantage of by any OS, but it would be possible for an OS to notice optimizations for:

int fd = open("file", O_RDWR | O_SYNC | O_DIRECT);

size_t length = get_lenght(fd);

uint8_t * map_addr = mmap(NULL, length, PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE, MAP_PRIVATE, fd, 0);

...

// This represents all of the changes that could possibly happen before you
// want to update the on disk file.
change_various_data(map_addr);

if (is_time_to_update()) {
   write(fd, map_addr, length);
   lseek(fd, 0, SEEK_SET);
   // you could have just used pwrite here and not seeked
}

The reasons that an OS could possibly take advantage of this is that until you write to a particular page (and no one else did either) the OS would probably just use the actual file's page at that location as the swap for that page.

Then when you wrote to some set of those pages the OS would Copy On Write those pages for your process, but still keep the unwritten pages backed up by the original file.

Then, upon calling write the OS could notice that the write was block aligned both in memory and on disk, and then it could notice that some of the source memory pages were already synched up with those exact file system pages that they were being written to and only write out the pages which had changed.

All of that being said, it wouldn't surprise me if this optimization isn't done by any OS, and this type of code ends up being really slow and causes lots of disk writing when you call 'write'. It would be cool if it was taken advantage of.

By : nategoose


mmap can't be used for this purpose. There's no way to prevent data from being written to disk. In practice, using mlock() to make the memory unswappable might have a side effect of preventing it from getting written to disk except when you ask for it to be written, but there's no guarantee. Certainly if another process opens the file, it's going to see the copy cached in memory (with your latest changes), not the copy on physical disk. In many ways, what you should do depends on whether you're trying to do synchronization with other processes or just for safety in case of crash or power failure.

If your data size is small, you might try a number of other methods for atomic syncing to disk. One way is to store the entire dataset in a filename and create an empty file by that name, then delete the old file. If 2 files exist at startup (due to extremely unlikely crash time), delete the older one and resume from the newer one. write() may also be atomic if your data size is smaller than a filesystem block, page size, or disk block, but I don't know of any guarantee to that effect right off. You'd have to do some research.

Another very standard approach that works as long as your data isn't so big that 2 copies won't fit on disk: just create a second copy with a temporary name, then rename() it over top of the old one. rename() is always atomic. This is probably the best approach unless you have a reason not to do it that way.

By : R..


As the other respondents have suggested, I don't think there's a portable way to do what you want without copying. If you're looking to do this in a special-purpose environment where you can control the OS etc, you may be able to do it under Linux with the btrfs filesystem.

btrfs supports a new reflink() operation which is essential a copy-on-write filesystem copy. You could reflink() your file to a temporary on start-up, mmap() the temporary, then msync() and reflink() the temporary back to the original to checkpoint.

By : llasram


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By: admin