Flash filesystems for Linux

Silent Running

Article from Issue 143/2012

Whirring machines with rotating stacks of disks are out. The elegant tablets and smartphones of today’s digital generation house flash memory that saves space and energy. We explain the characteristics of flash chips and suggest appropriate Linux filesystems.

Older computers with disks and fans increasingly hide away in data centers, protected by the cloud. Thus, users don’t notice how much heat they produce or the noise they make. Now, smartphones and tablets, the new computers, pervade many areas of life – after all, they are mobile, quiet, and energy efficient. 

One reason mobile devices are more energy efficient is because the onboard storage systems use chips instead of rotating disks. Solid-state flash memory has no moving parts and is thus very robust because it experiences no mechanical stress. Moreover, diskless memory can access the desired data faster because it doesn’t require a moving head. A diskless device also produces less heat, making a loud fan superfluous. In this article, I describe some Linux filesystems and tools that work with the large variety of flash storage devices Linux supports.

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