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WHAT IS Flash-Friendly File System (F2FS)?
NAND flash memory-based storage devices, such as SSD, eMMC, and SD cards, have
been equipped on a variety systems ranging from mobile to server systems. Since
they are known to have different characteristics from the conventional rotating
disks, a file system, an upper layer to the storage device, should adapt to the
changes from the sketch in the design level.
F2FS is a file system exploiting NAND flash memory-based storage devices, which
is based on Log-structured File System (LFS). The design has been focused on
addressing the fundamental issues in LFS, which are snowball effect of wandering
tree and high cleaning overhead.
Since a NAND flash memory-based storage device shows different characteristic
according to its internal geometry or flash memory management scheme, namely FTL,
F2FS and its tools support various parameters not only for configuring on-disk
layout, but also for selecting allocation and cleaning algorithms.
The file system formatting tool, "mkfs.f2fs", is available from the following
git tree:
>> git://
For reporting bugs and sending patches, please use the following mailing list:
Log-structured File System (LFS)
"A log-structured file system writes all modifications to disk sequentially in
a log-like structure, thereby speeding up both file writing and crash recovery.
The log is the only structure on disk; it contains indexing information so that
files can be read back from the log efficiently. In order to maintain large free
areas on disk for fast writing, we divide the log into segments and use a
segment cleaner to compress the live information from heavily fragmented
segments." from Rosenblum, M. and Ousterhout, J. K., 1992, "The design and
implementation of a log-structured file system", ACM Trans. Computer Systems
10, 1, 26–52.
Wandering Tree Problem
In LFS, when a file data is updated and written to the end of log, its direct
pointer block is updated due to the changed location. Then the indirect pointer
block is also updated due to the direct pointer block update. In this manner,
the upper index structures such as inode, inode map, and checkpoint block are
also updated recursively. This problem is called as wandering tree problem [1],
and in order to enhance the performance, it should eliminate or relax the update
propagation as much as possible.
[1] Bityutskiy, A. 2005. JFFS3 design issues.
Cleaning Overhead
Since LFS is based on out-of-place writes, it produces so many obsolete blocks
scattered across the whole storage. In order to serve new empty log space, it
needs to reclaim these obsolete blocks seamlessly to users. This job is called
as a cleaning process.
The process consists of three operations as follows.
1. A victim segment is selected through referencing segment usage table.
2. It loads parent index structures of all the data in the victim identified by
segment summary blocks.
3. It checks the cross-reference between the data and its parent index structure.
4. It moves valid data selectively.
This cleaning job may cause unexpected long delays, so the most important goal
is to hide the latencies to users. And also definitely, it should reduce the
amount of valid data to be moved, and move them quickly as well.
Flash Awareness
- Enlarge the random write area for better performance, but provide the high
spatial locality
- Align FS data structures to the operational units in FTL as best efforts
Wandering Tree Problem
- Use a term, “node”, that represents inodes as well as various pointer blocks
- Introduce Node Address Table (NAT) containing the locations of all the “node”
blocks; this will cut off the update propagation.
Cleaning Overhead
- Support a background cleaning process
- Support greedy and cost-benefit algorithms for victim selection policies
- Support multi-head logs for static/dynamic hot and cold data separation
- Introduce adaptive logging for efficient block allocation
background_gc_off Turn off cleaning operations, namely garbage collection,
triggered in background when I/O subsystem is idle.
disable_roll_forward Disable the roll-forward recovery routine
discard Issue discard/TRIM commands when a segment is cleaned.
no_heap Disable heap-style segment allocation which finds free
segments for data from the beginning of main area, while
for node from the end of main area.
nouser_xattr Disable Extended User Attributes. Note: xattr is enabled
by default if CONFIG_F2FS_FS_XATTR is selected.
noacl Disable POSIX Access Control List. Note: acl is enabled
by default if CONFIG_F2FS_FS_POSIX_ACL is selected.
active_logs=%u Support configuring the number of active logs. In the
current design, f2fs supports only 2, 4, and 6 logs.
Default number is 6.
disable_ext_identify Disable the extension list configured by mkfs, so f2fs
does not aware of cold files such as media files.
/sys/kernel/debug/f2fs/ contains information about all the partitions mounted as
f2fs. Each file shows the whole f2fs information.
/sys/kernel/debug/f2fs/status includes:
- major file system information managed by f2fs currently
- average SIT information about whole segments
- current memory footprint consumed by f2fs.
1. Download userland tools and compile them.
2. Skip, if f2fs was compiled statically inside kernel.
Otherwise, insert the f2fs.ko module.
# insmod f2fs.ko
3. Create a directory trying to mount
# mkdir /mnt/f2fs
4. Format the block device, and then mount as f2fs
# mkfs.f2fs -l label /dev/block_device
# mount -t f2fs /dev/block_device /mnt/f2fs
Format options
-l [label] : Give a volume label, up to 256 unicode name.
-a [0 or 1] : Split start location of each area for heap-based allocation.
1 is set by default, which performs this.
-o [int] : Set overprovision ratio in percent over volume size.
5 is set by default.
-s [int] : Set the number of segments per section.
1 is set by default.
-z [int] : Set the number of sections per zone.
1 is set by default.
-e [str] : Set basic extension list. e.g. "mp3,gif,mov"
On-disk Layout
F2FS divides the whole volume into a number of segments, each of which is fixed
to 2MB in size. A section is composed of consecutive segments, and a zone
consists of a set of sections. By default, section and zone sizes are set to one
segment size identically, but users can easily modify the sizes by mkfs.
F2FS splits the entire volume into six areas, and all the areas except superblock
consists of multiple segments as described below.
align with the zone size <-|
|-> align with the segment size
| | | Segment | Node | Segment | |
| Superblock | Checkpoint | Info. | Address | Summary | Main |
| (SB) | (CP) | Table (SIT) | Table (NAT) | Area (SSA) | |
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
- Superblock (SB)
: It is located at the beginning of the partition, and there exist two copies
to avoid file system crash. It contains basic partition information and some
default parameters of f2fs.
- Checkpoint (CP)
: It contains file system information, bitmaps for valid NAT/SIT sets, orphan
inode lists, and summary entries of current active segments.
- Segment Information Table (SIT)
: It contains segment information such as valid block count and bitmap for the
validity of all the blocks.
- Node Address Table (NAT)
: It is composed of a block address table for all the node blocks stored in
Main area.
- Segment Summary Area (SSA)
: It contains summary entries which contains the owner information of all the
data and node blocks stored in Main area.
- Main Area
: It contains file and directory data including their indices.
In order to avoid misalignment between file system and flash-based storage, F2FS
aligns the start block address of CP with the segment size. Also, it aligns the
start block address of Main area with the zone size by reserving some segments
in SSA area.
Reference the following survey for additional technical details.
File System Metadata Structure
F2FS adopts the checkpointing scheme to maintain file system consistency. At
mount time, F2FS first tries to find the last valid checkpoint data by scanning
CP area. In order to reduce the scanning time, F2FS uses only two copies of CP.
One of them always indicates the last valid data, which is called as shadow copy
mechanism. In addition to CP, NAT and SIT also adopt the shadow copy mechanism.
For file system consistency, each CP points to which NAT and SIT copies are
valid, as shown as below.
| CP | SIT | NAT |
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
| CP #0 | CP #1 | SIT #0 | SIT #1 | NAT #0 | NAT #1 |
| ^ ^
| | |
Index Structure
The key data structure to manage the data locations is a "node". Similar to
traditional file structures, F2FS has three types of node: inode, direct node,
indirect node. F2FS assigns 4KB to an inode block which contains 923 data block
indices, two direct node pointers, two indirect node pointers, and one double
indirect node pointer as described below. One direct node block contains 1018
data blocks, and one indirect node block contains also 1018 node blocks. Thus,
one inode block (i.e., a file) covers:
4KB * (923 + 2 * 1018 + 2 * 1018 * 1018 + 1018 * 1018 * 1018) := 3.94TB.
Inode block (4KB)
|- data (923)
|- direct node (2)
| `- data (1018)
|- indirect node (2)
| `- direct node (1018)
| `- data (1018)
`- double indirect node (1)
`- indirect node (1018)
`- direct node (1018)
`- data (1018)
Note that, all the node blocks are mapped by NAT which means the location of
each node is translated by the NAT table. In the consideration of the wandering
tree problem, F2FS is able to cut off the propagation of node updates caused by
leaf data writes.
Directory Structure
A directory entry occupies 11 bytes, which consists of the following attributes.
- hash hash value of the file name
- ino inode number
- len the length of file name
- type file type such as directory, symlink, etc
A dentry block consists of 214 dentry slots and file names. Therein a bitmap is
used to represent whether each dentry is valid or not. A dentry block occupies
4KB with the following composition.
Dentry Block(4 K) = bitmap (27 bytes) + reserved (3 bytes) +
dentries(11 * 214 bytes) + file name (8 * 214 bytes)
|dentry block 1 | dentry block 2 |
. .
. .
. [Dentry Block Structure: 4KB] .
| bitmap | reserved | dentries | file names |
[Dentry Block: 4KB] . .
. .
. .
| hash | ino | len | type |
[Dentry Structure: 11 bytes]
F2FS implements multi-level hash tables for directory structure. Each level has
a hash table with dedicated number of hash buckets as shown below. Note that
"A(2B)" means a bucket includes 2 data blocks.
A : bucket
B : block
level #0 | A(2B)
level #1 | A(2B) - A(2B)
level #2 | A(2B) - A(2B) - A(2B) - A(2B)
. | . . . .
level #N/2 | A(2B) - A(2B) - A(2B) - A(2B) - A(2B) - ... - A(2B)
. | . . . .
level #N | A(4B) - A(4B) - A(4B) - A(4B) - A(4B) - ... - A(4B)
The number of blocks and buckets are determined by,
,- 2, if n < MAX_DIR_HASH_DEPTH / 2,
# of blocks in level #n = |
`- 4, Otherwise
,- 2^n, if n < MAX_DIR_HASH_DEPTH / 2,
# of buckets in level #n = |
`- 2^((MAX_DIR_HASH_DEPTH / 2) - 1), Otherwise
When F2FS finds a file name in a directory, at first a hash value of the file
name is calculated. Then, F2FS scans the hash table in level #0 to find the
dentry consisting of the file name and its inode number. If not found, F2FS
scans the next hash table in level #1. In this way, F2FS scans hash tables in
each levels incrementally from 1 to N. In each levels F2FS needs to scan only
one bucket determined by the following equation, which shows O(log(# of files))
bucket number to scan in level #n = (hash value) % (# of buckets in level #n)
In the case of file creation, F2FS finds empty consecutive slots that cover the
file name. F2FS searches the empty slots in the hash tables of whole levels from
1 to N in the same way as the lookup operation.
The following figure shows an example of two cases holding children.
--------------> Dir <--------------
| |
child child
child - child [hole] - child
child - child - child [hole] - [hole] - child
Case 1: Case 2:
Number of children = 6, Number of children = 3,
File size = 7 File size = 7
Default Block Allocation
At runtime, F2FS manages six active logs inside "Main" area: Hot/Warm/Cold node
and Hot/Warm/Cold data.
- Hot node contains direct node blocks of directories.
- Warm node contains direct node blocks except hot node blocks.
- Cold node contains indirect node blocks
- Hot data contains dentry blocks
- Warm data contains data blocks except hot and cold data blocks
- Cold data contains multimedia data or migrated data blocks
LFS has two schemes for free space management: threaded log and copy-and-compac-
tion. The copy-and-compaction scheme which is known as cleaning, is well-suited
for devices showing very good sequential write performance, since free segments
are served all the time for writing new data. However, it suffers from cleaning
overhead under high utilization. Contrarily, the threaded log scheme suffers
from random writes, but no cleaning process is needed. F2FS adopts a hybrid
scheme where the copy-and-compaction scheme is adopted by default, but the
policy is dynamically changed to the threaded log scheme according to the file
system status.
In order to align F2FS with underlying flash-based storage, F2FS allocates a
segment in a unit of section. F2FS expects that the section size would be the
same as the unit size of garbage collection in FTL. Furthermore, with respect
to the mapping granularity in FTL, F2FS allocates each section of the active
logs from different zones as much as possible, since FTL can write the data in
the active logs into one allocation unit according to its mapping granularity.
Cleaning process
F2FS does cleaning both on demand and in the background. On-demand cleaning is
triggered when there are not enough free segments to serve VFS calls. Background
cleaner is operated by a kernel thread, and triggers the cleaning job when the
system is idle.
F2FS supports two victim selection policies: greedy and cost-benefit algorithms.
In the greedy algorithm, F2FS selects a victim segment having the smallest number
of valid blocks. In the cost-benefit algorithm, F2FS selects a victim segment
according to the segment age and the number of valid blocks in order to address
log block thrashing problem in the greedy algorithm. F2FS adopts the greedy
algorithm for on-demand cleaner, while background cleaner adopts cost-benefit
In order to identify whether the data in the victim segment are valid or not,
F2FS manages a bitmap. Each bit represents the validity of a block, and the
bitmap is composed of a bit stream covering whole blocks in main area.