POSEIDON: The First Safe and Scalable Persistent Memory Allocator

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Virginia Tech


With the advent of byte-addressable Non-Volatile Memory (NVMM), the need for a safe, scalable and high-performing memory allocator is inevitable. A slow memory allocator can bottleneck the entire application stack, while an unsecure memory allocator can render underlying systems and applications inconsistent upon program bugs or system failure. Unlike DRAM-based memory allocators, it is indispensable for an NVMM allocator to guarantee its heap metadata safety from both internal and external errors. An effective NVMM memory allocator should be 1) safe 2) scalable and 3) high performing. Unfortunately, none of the existing persistent memory allocators achieve all three requisites; critically, we also note: the de-facto NVMM allocator, Intel's Persistent Memory Development Kit (PMDK), is vulnerable to silent data corruption and persistent memory leaks as result of a simple heap overflow. We closely investigate the existing defacto NVMM memory allocators, especially PMDK, to study their vulnerability to metadata corruption and reasons for poor performance and scalability. We propose Poseidon, which is safe, fast and scalable. The premise of Poseidon revolves around providing a user application with per-CPU sub-heaps for scalability, while managing the heap metadata in a segregated fashion and efficiently protecting the metadata using a scalable hardware-based protection scheme, Intel's Memory Protection Keys (MPK). We evaluate Poseidon with a wide array of microbenchmarks and real-world benchmarks, noting: Poseidon outperforms the state-of-art allocators by a significant margin, showing improved scalability and performance, while also guaranteeing metadata safety.



persistent memory, memory allocator, scalability, security