Attack of the Killer Microseconds

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The computer systems we use today make it easy for programmers to mitigate event latencies in the nanosecond and millisecond time scales (such as DRAM accesses at tens or hundreds of nanoseconds and disk I/Os at a few milliseconds) but significantly lack support for microsecond (μs)-scale events. This oversight is quickly becoming a serious problem for programming warehouse-scale computers, where efficient handling of microsecond-scale events is becoming paramount for a new breed of low-latency I/O devices ranging from datacenter networking to emerging memories (see the first sidebar “Is the Microsecond Getting Enough Respect?”).

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