In the late 1980’s I came across a fun idea in the domain of disk storage design for computers. I’ll call it “Ben’s Method” because Ben was the inventor’s name. (Yes, it is a Method, not an Apparatus.) I thought “Aha!” when I first heard of the invention and wondered what leading questions I’d ask to guide a fellow computer buff to the joy of re-invention. To lay some context, I was myself an inventor, with dozens of U.S. patents (not even counting continuations-in-part). Though none of my patents were in the fields of disk storage or file system design, I had considerable experience therewith.
But road led onto road, and zig to zag, and here I am thirty years later, with the Method almost forgotten, wondering if any computer buff wants to enjoy the thrill of invention discovery. It would seem like a shame that this simple but “cute” method pass away completely unremembered.
But humor me please. When I heard of the invention, my reaction was “Could I have thought of that? What hints would someone need for that solution to pop into their mind?” If nobody takes up the challenge, fine — I’ll just let Ben’s Method pass into oblivion.
If you can detect that a large sequential file is gradually being read, aggregate performance may improve if you do “pre-caching” — if you speculatively read blocks from that large file that you expect to be requested since. Doing this when the disk is otherwise idle is trivial; a challenge arises when you must prioritize the pre-caching with other requests.
I’ll post yes/no answers if there’s interest in asking questions, but briefly: Ben’s Method was used in conjunction with pre-caching to improve net disk performance while simplifying firmware. (You don’t need to be a disk expert to grasp the Method — many computer nerds will know enough.)
AFAIK, Ben’s method was never implemented, never patented, never published, and is not generally known today. But I still wonder if, after all, the idea might have merit. (If you should apply the idea, please give credit to Ben!) Maybe the idea is flawed, but it’s still a nifty idea! And especially pleasing because of its utter simplicity. I posed this puzzle several months ago in the “53 bicycles: A lateral thinking puzzle” thread, but little progress was made. An SDMB disk expert answered
(As someone who was doing disk drive firmware forty years ago, I’d like to hear about some other mind-boggling methods! Post them in this thread if you wish. But RadioWave’s response only confirms that Ben’s Method is unknown.)
Hint: From one perspective, Ben’s Method is quite simple; so simple that some puzzlers might become disgruntled (“Is that all there is?”) It is that simplicity that makes the invention seem elegant to me.
Anyone want to challenge themselves? Ask a series of yes-no questions that will lead to a rediscovery of Ben’s clever invention.