University of Toronto
Department of Computer Science

A Distinguished Lecture on Computer Science

Garth Gibson


In Pursuit of Storage Bandwidth

With IP Storage, a new set of standards for storage specialization in layer 5 Internet communications protocols, the storage industry begins a new technology revolution: the integration of disk-array specialized Storage Area Networks like Fibre Channel and client-server Network Attached Storage protocols designed commodity IP networks such as Gigabit Ethernet. While both Fibre Channel (FC) and Gigabit Ethernet (GE) are built on the same hardware and are technically capable of tracking the same rapid improvement in bandwidth, GE's large market promises that it will be lower cost while FC's greater application specialization promises that it will be higher performance. Today's IP Storage standards effort is about enabling GE adapter hardware to provide storage specialization. Beyond hardware specialization it is likely that the IP Storage effort will focus the storage industry on cost-effective security architectures.

In my 15 year study of storage architectures that promote cost-effective storage bandwidth, the FC-GE contest and its implications on SAN and NAS marketplaces and storage security is but the latest diversion. Prior diversions include file system design for deep storage prefetching, binary rewriting tools for online generation of accurate hints, and delayed update algorithms for high throughput redundant disk arrays. My largest diversion was the first: RAID. What began as an economic argument for achieving higher performance through parallelism became a study of storage reliability.

In this talk I will admit to my diversions in some detail in hope of making clear the complications in getting to market cost-effective storage bandwidth.


Dr. Gibson is an associate professor in the departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. A Canadian citizen educated at the University of Waterloo and the University of California at Berkeley, Gibson's early research on redundant disk arrays set the organizing concepts for what is now a multi-billion dollar market. Gibson has received the Reynold B. Johnson Information Storage Award, an IEEE Technical Field Award; a SIGMOD Test of Time Award for the most influential paper of their 1988 conference; CMU's Allan Newell Award for Research Excellence and an ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. Gibson serves in a variety of advisory positions including the technical council of the Storage Networking Industry Association, the board of directors of the ACM SIGMETRICS special interest group, and the steering committee of the first conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST). Dr. Gibson is currently on leave from CMU to act as the Chief Technology Officer of Panasas Inc. (, a network storage startup that is pioneering Object-based Network Storage (ONS).

Host: contact Prof. Sevcik for information on the speaker's schedule.

Time and Location: return to the 2000 Colloquia Series main page. Note this talk is on a Thursday but will take place at the standard time and place.

R. J. Miller
Last modified: Tue Apr 10 09:51:50 EDT 2001