Presentation on theme: "Juan Ortega 9/23/09 NTW412. A block is a sequence of bytes or bits having a nominal length (block size). Blocking is used to facilitate the handling of."— Presentation transcript:
A block is a sequence of bytes or bits having a nominal length (block size). Blocking is used to facilitate the handling of the data-stream by the computer program receiving the data. Blocked data are normally read a block at a time. Blocking is employed in storage devices such as floppy disks, hard disks, optical discs, and flash memory.
The actual arrangement of information on the surface of a disk platter is referred to as a physical block. The Physical Block Number (PBN) is an address used for identifying a particular block on the surface of the disk. (Usually 512 bytes)
When the blocks on a disk are considered from a programming point of view, they are viewed as logical blocks. The address of a logical block on a disk is its Logical Block Number (LBN). LBN 0 (zero) is the first LBN on a disk. Logical blocks correspond one-for-one to physical blocks, but the logical block number might not correspond directly to the same physical block numbers.
The block size specifies size that the filesystem will use to read and write data. Larger block sizes will help improve disk I/O performance when using large files, such as databases. This happens because the disk can read or write data for a longer period of time before having to search for the next block. On the downside, if you are going to have a lot of smaller files on that filesystem, like the /etc, there the potential for a lot of wasted disk space. In classical file systems, a single block may only contain a part of a single file. This leads to space inefficiency due to internal fragmentation, since file lengths are often not multiples of block size, and thus the last block of files will remain partially empty. This will create slack space, which averages half a block per file. Some newer file systems attempt to solve this through techniques called block suballocation and tail merging.
Doing block I/O means that the application or file system is sending blocks to the disk drive to be written or asking for blocks using a logical block address (LBA). File systems turn file requests into block I/O. Applications (including databases) can do file I/O or they can bypass the filesystem and do block I/O (this is usually called raw I/O). Obviously it's easier to do file I/O, and you can do file sharing much easier that way. Doing block I/O may have performance advantages (in control of the buffering/caching and not having the file system overhead).
NAS does file I/O while SANs typically do block I/O. File I/O is referencing data as a file entity from a remote file system. When referencing a file, an application uses a "file handle:offset" which really is the name of the file and the number of bytes into the file for access to data. For NAS, a redirector diverts the access from a local file system to a remote file system that is accessed across a network usually through TCP/IP over Ethernet. The NAS device turns the remote file system access into its own local file system access that results in a block I/O (raw I/O) to attached devices.
1) The I/O request is intercepted by a network redirector, also referred to simply as a redirector, on the local computer. 2) The redirector constructs a data packet containing all of the information about the request, and sends it to the server where the file is located. 3) The redirector on the server receives the packet from the client, authenticates the access to the file required by the I/O request, and, if authenticated, executes the request on behalf of the client. If not, it returns an error code to the redirector on the client. 4) When the request has been executed, the redirector on the server sends any data resulting from the I/O request to the redirector on the client along with a success notification. 5) The redirector on the client receives the packet from the server and passes the data in the packet to the application along with a success notification.
For a SAN access, usually a block I/O is done where the application will access the file, the file system on the local server will turn that into a request for a block on a particular device (LUN - logical unit) and then block I/O is done over an interface such as Fibre Channel. The bottom line is that file I/O eventually (and always) turns into a block I/O -- locally it's done through the file system, for NAS it's redirected to a NAS device to do it on a remote system.
Basically, a SAN does block I/O just like having a disk directly attached to a server. A NAS is really remote file system I/O where the file request is redirected over a network to a device (really a processing entity with its own file system) where the file I/O is actually performed. Deciding whether to use a SAN or NAS has many factors to consider so there's not a specific answer. In general if your application requires block I/O or there is a significant performance requirement, use a SAN. If it's file based I/O for the application or you need to share files and you want simple administration, use NAS.
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