STICS: SCSI-to-IP cache for storage area networks

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Data storage plays an essential role in today's fast-growing data-intensive network services. New standards and products emerge very rapidly for networked data storage. Given the mature Internet infrastructure, the overwhelming preference among the IT community recently is using IP for storage networking because of economy and convenience. iSCSI is one of the most recent standards that allow SCSI protocols to be carried out over IP networks. However, there are many disparities between SCSI and IP in terms of protocols, speeds, bandwidths, data unit sizes, and design considerations that prevent fast and efficient deployment of storage area network (SAN) over IP. This paper introduces SCSI-to-IP cache storage (STICS), a novel storage architecture that couples reliable and high-speed data caching with low-overhead conversion between SCSI and IP protocols. A STICS block consists of one or several storage devices and an intelligent processing unit with CPU and RAM. The storage devices are used to cache and store data while the intelligent processing unit carries out the caching algorithm, protocol conversion, and self-management functions. Through the efficient caching algorithm and localization of certain unnecessary protocol overheads, STICS can significantly improve performance, reliability, and scalability over current iSCSI systems. Furthermore, STICS can be used as a basic plug-and-play building block for data storage over IP. Analogous to "cache memory" invented several decades ago for bridging the speed gap between CPU and memory, STICS is the first-ever "cache storage" for bridging the gap between SCSI and IP making it possible to build an efficient SAN over IP. We have implemented software STICS prototype on Linux operating system. Numerical results using popular benchmarks such as vxbench, IOzone, PostMark, and EMC's trace have shown a dramatic performance gain over the current iSCSI implementation. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing