Why the file system on your Android phone is more important than you think?

Imagine that we compare Google Pixel with Lenovo Moto Z: they are two phone calls, that’s no doubt, and each has its distinct advantages: Google Assistant and the camera are strengths of the Pixel, while Moto Z has that Interesting ability to expand their options with Moto Mods. Oh, we forgot something: the Moto Z gives kicks to Pixel in your file system.

File system? What is that file system? For it is the software component that is especially responsible for the internal storage of our smartphones are better or worse behave, especially term extension cord. Lenovo managers have done a great job here, as demonstrated by a technical analysis that should serve as an example that this section is more relevant than it seems.

Android phone
Image Source: Google Image

Storage as an Achilles heel

It’s what a user made in his blog about the performance of mobile devices. According to their analysis, one of the areas that most affect the use of a smartphone, especially long – term is the file system used in different partitions Android devices, and in particular, the speed with which behave calls scriptures 4k random.

This type of operation to assess the performance of a storage system, and media such as AnandTech revealed how the iPhone 7 could barely 2.33 MB / s in writings such as the Google Pixel XL was around the 3.35 MB / s In this section.

In these analyzes and were the differences between different devices : for suddenly we detected as a device like the Huawei Honor 8 long exceeded the Pixel XL or S7 Edge Galaxy in this section, and achieved 32.05 MB / s in the test AndroBench 5.0 for 4K random writes.

The Importance of Random 4K Scripts

Why are these tests important? Because even when you start using these devices all goes as smooth as silk and fluidity is great, the NAND memory in which storage systems are based declines.

Having a better performance in these scriptures long-term guarantees that our phone “will not become lentorro” (or at least not much) for the continued use and that degradation. How is it possible, when theoretically the hardware of Honor 8 is more modest? The answer is not in the hardware, but in the software.

This user analysis revealed the reasons for the good performance of a device like the Moto Z Pixel against Google. Performance latencies could be checked for the percentage of completed I / O operations (p50 would be 50% of I / O operations completed at a time X), and make it clear how fast the Things in this area.

In this graph the values p50, p90 and p99 are shown, and as the author of the analysis indicates, the median value of Moto Z is 0.5 ms, while the Pixel value is 3.3 ms, or Is the same, almost seven times higher. Especially worrisome is the latency in the p99 measurement, which was especially high. Ensuring that these operations were completed took more time than is desirable. And the problem, says the author, will worsen over time.

You may also like to read another article on NetDigEdu: The 17 new features of Android 7.1 Nougat

Learning how to format Android partitions

The secret of Moto Z is not as mentioned in its hardware components, but the file systems used in different partitions on the device system.

Comparisons between the two devices made it clear that Lenovo had worked hard and had chosen this section very interesting options to format those partitions.

The first example is the mount point / storage / emulated / 0, which is the basis of the storage system. In the new devices the differences between the internal flash storage (the capacity that the manufacturer sells us) and the external, one (a microSD card) have been blurred. In fact, when the manufacturer does not offer a microSD slot, the emulation of an external storage system is still provided so that compatibility with old applications that “search” for that storage system can be enabled.

In the Pixel that mount point is mounted with the filesystem fuse, a “bad choice” because it consumes more CPU and slows the I / S by 30%. In the Z Moto we find the filesystem esdfs, which performs better both in efficiency and speed, and that is a file system derived from Wrapfs, a “SF stackable”.

Even more interesting is the file system used in the / data partition, which in Google Pixel is formatted with the traditional ext4, very popular in partitions of Linux distributions. Instead in the Moto Z it is used f2fs, a new file system developed by Samsung that simplifies writing, and in fact need 50% less of them than ext4. According to the author, f2fs allows Z Moto have a yield 2 times higher and twice the service life of the NAND memory regarding the Pixel. Or put another way: your Moto Z will age much better than the Google Pixel.

The use of that file system is in addition special parameters as no barrier, an option available on the XFS file system created by Silicon Graphics for their workstations in the 90s the idea is to implement a caching solution RAM to speed up all those scriptures, and this parameter helps this partition behaves even better, especially in the long term.

Eye, because these benefits do not occur in all scenarios (in fact, if we leave the world of mobile ext4 still great to format our SSDs), but it seems clear that at least in the area of the NAND memory used in smartphones These tests show that this type of option has many interesting advantages.

So better go paying attention to the file systems chosen by manufacturers to their devices: they depend on these smartphones begin to behave worse, with response times and significantly worse fluidity than when bought and started using them.

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