Just stumbled across this

Thought maybe the DEVS would find it interesting
Think Linux compressed version of READYBOOST for Linux
Perhaps a USB drive as cache for the OS on the SD card…

What is bcache?

Bcache is a Linux kernel block layer cache. It allows one or more fast disk drives such as flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) to act as a cache for one or more slower hard disk drives.

Hard drives are cheap and big, SSDs are fast but small and expensive. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could transparently get the advantages of both? With Bcache, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Bcache patches for the Linux kernel allow one to use SSDs to cache other block devices. It’s analogous to L2Arc for ZFS, but Bcache also does writeback caching (besides just write through caching), and it’s filesystem agnostic. It’s designed to be switched on with a minimum of effort, and to work well without configuration on any setup. By default it won’t cache sequential IO, just the random reads and writes that SSDs excel at. It’s meant to be suitable for desktops, servers, high end storage arrays, and perhaps even embedded.

The design goal is to be just as fast as the SSD and cached device (depending on cache hit vs. miss, and writethrough vs. writeback writes) to within the margin of error. It’s not quite there yet, mostly for sequential reads. But testing has shown that it is emphatically possible, and even in some cases to do better - primarily random writes.

It’s also designed to be safe. Reliability is critical for anything that does writeback caching; if it breaks, you will lose data. Bcache is meant to be a superior alternative to battery backed up raid controllers, thus it must be reliable even if the power cord is yanked out. It won’t return a write as completed until everything necessary to locate it is on stable storage, nor will writes ever be seen as partially completed (or worse, missing) in the event of power failure. A large amount of work has gone into making this work efficiently.

Bcache is designed around the performance characteristics of SSDs. It’s designed to minimize write inflation to the greatest extent possible, and never itself does random writes. It turns random writes into sequential writes - first when it writes them to the SSD, and then with writeback caching it can use your SSD to buffer gigabytes of writes and write them all out in order to your hard drive or raid array. If you’ve got a RAID6, you’re probably aware of the painful random write penalty, and the expensive controllers with battery backup people buy to mitigate them. Now, you can use Linux’s excellent software RAID and still get fast random writes, even on cheap hardware.


Idea came from this: filesystems - Linux equivalent to ReadyBoost? - Unix & Linux Stack Exchange

This one shows to be python based

This one is a script

Hmm, on Linux disk writes are already memory (RAM) cached (async). This would put on another caching layer, if not well integrated into the kernel, so needs check if it interacts well with async.

But the larger problem on SBCs is the limited USB speed. This only makes sense if you have a USB3.0 port that is not limited in speed and SSD on it. I am not sure about the numbers, but I think in this case an internal eMMC should be still similar fast, so no point in caching on the USB drive?

The real use case for this is x86 machines with SATA slots where you use a large HDD as data storage and want to speed up writes to it a bid by caching to a separate SATA attached SSD. Or you just have a very small SSD available and need your OS thus on an HDD that you want to support with cache then. But I think with USB attached drives that does not make much sense, at least not covering the additional complexity=failure level and of course the major issue with write caching: Data loss in case of power failure!