Remote FASTER - Basics

FASTER can now be used with remote clients. The basic approach is as follows:

Creating FasterKV server

You can create and deploy a server based on either fixed-size (blittable struct) Key and Value types or variable-size (varlen) Key and Value types similar to byte arrays. You can customize the Input and Output as well as other FASTER settings such as the hash table size, log size, etc. before deploying the server. FASTER.server is the library used to create a customized server, and takes an instantiated FASTER store as argument during its creation. We provide two example servers out of the box. The server is deployed to listen on a specific IP address and port. The default FASTER port is 3278. Right now, the server communicates using a binary protocol, but we also plan to add support for the RESP protocol so that RESP clients (Redis) in any language can communicate with FASTER servers.

Using FasterKV client in remote application

Use FASTER.client as a client library in your C# application to connect to any server and run operations remotely. You can install the client library via NuGet at Microsoft.FASTER.Client. The library exposes the ability to create a session, very similar to ClientSession in embedded deployments. A session targets a particular IP address and port; we do not provide automatic sharding out of the box right now. Each client session establishes a long-running TCP connection to the server. A shadow session is established with FASTER on the server side, for each client session. As in local FASTER, you can create multiple sessions to the server in order to benefit from server-side parallelism. The session API is async, as remote operations usually take longer to complete. The C# client uses a custom binary protocol based on binary serialization of types and bytes. A client defined using fixed (or variable) length types should communicate with a server deployed identically.

Fixed-Length Server and Client

Let us start with a simple case where we want to deploy a client-server that operates over fixed-length 8-byte keys and 8-byes values.

Server Code

The server wrapper code for this scenario is available at cs/remote/samples/FixedLenServer. You can either clone from GitHub, or create a stand alone program with this code using the server library via NuGet at Microsoft.FASTER.Server.

The first step is to create a FasterKV store instance, recovering from a checkpoint if needed:

var store = new FasterKV<Key, Value>(indexSize, logSettings, checkpointSettings);

Next, we construct the session provider for the store, which is capable of creating sessions that speak a particular wire format. For example, a provider based on fixed-length types is below. Types such as Key, Value, and Input are the fixed-length types this server supports, while Functions is the IFunctions implementation we use.

var provider = new FasterKVProvider<Key, Value, Input, Output, Functions, FixedLenSerializer<Key, Value, Input, Output>>(store, e => new Functions());

Next, we create the FASTER server as follows, specifying the IP address to bind, and the port number to listen on. We then register our provider with the server, to operate with protocol of WireFormat.DefaultFixedLenKV.

var server = new FasterServer(opts.Address, opts.Port);
server.Register(WireFormat.DefaultFixedLenKV, provider);

In our provider’s IFunctions, RMW is pre-defined to add Input to Value, so the server behaves as a per-key sum computation server, in addition to standard reads and upserts. You can pre-define arbitrarily complex computations based on Input, which can for example, have an enum operation ID inside Input for the client to indicate which operation the server should do during RMW, on Value:

void InitialUpdater(ref Key key, ref Input input, ref Value value, ref Output output) => value.value = input.value;
bool InPlaceUpdater(ref Key key, ref Input input, ref Value value, ref Output output)
   Interlocked.Add(ref value.value, input.value);
   return true;
public void CopyUpdater(ref Key key, ref Input input, ref Value oldValue, ref Value newValue, ref Output output) 
   => newValue.value = input.value + oldValue.value;

Finally, we start the server and wait forever, letting the server listen to the specified port and service incoming requests:


FixedLenServer accepts several command-line arguments such as IP address, port, memory size used by the hash table and log, checkpoint folders, etc. For example, you can run the server from the command line to listen on IP address and port 3278 as follows:

> FixedLenServer.exe --bind --port 3278

FASTER fixed-length (binary) KV server
Using page size of 32m
Using log memory size of 16g
There are 512 log pages in memory
Using disk segment size of 1g
Using hash index size of 64m (1m cache lines)

The default configuration parameters are shown above; these may be overridden via the command line (use --help to see options).

Client Code

A sample client application that talks to the above server is available at cs/remote/samples/FixedLenClient. You can also install the client library for your application via NuGet at Microsoft.FASTER.Client.

The client starts simply by defining the client instance that specifies the server IP address and port to connect to:

using var client = new FasterKVClient<long, long>(ip, port);

As you can see above, our client uses long keys and values. This is fine to use instead of Key and Value as long is binary compatible with those types that were used on the server side. The next step is to instantiate one or more remote client sessions, specifying the protocol as WireFormat.DefaultFixedLenKV (compatible with FixedLenServer):

using var session = client.NewSession(new Functions(), WireFormat.DefaultFixedLenKV);

Here, Functions implement an interface called ICallbackFunctions, and provide completion callbacks that the client will invoke as operations complete. As with embedded FASTER, a session is mono-threaded, i.e., it is a sequence of operations invoked serially. You can invoke a batch of operations and wait for their completion. For invocation parallelism, one can easily create multiple sessions to the same server. We provide a synchronous and an asynchronous client API.

Sync Client API

In SyncSamples we use a synchronous API to communicate with the server. For example, we perform Upsert as follows:

for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++)
   session.Upsert(i, i + 10000);

A synchronous Upsert does not automatically flush batches of data to the network. We can flush as follows:


As mentioned earlier, in the sync API, clients receive responses via function callbacks specified when creating the remote client session. We can perform a read operation and await all previous operations - including the Read - to complete as follows (you will receive the read result via the callback):

session.Read(key: 23);

CompletePending ensures that all previously issued operations are completed (and user callbacks received). Below we show two RMW operations and a Read to verify that the RMW operations succeeded:

session.RMW(23, 25);
session.RMW(23, 25);
session.Read(key: 23);

The final read will produce a result that is 25+25 more than the original value of 10023, for key 23.

We can also get the Output from RMW operations directly:

session.RMW(23, 25);

The RMW completion callback will verify a result that is 25+25+25 more than the original value of 10023, for key 23.

Async Client API

In AsyncSamples we use an asynchronous client API to communicate with the server. For example, we perform an async read as follows:

var (status, output) = await session.ReadAsync(23);
if (status.NotFound || output != 10023)
   throw new Exception("Error!");

By default, the async call flushes the outgoing network buffer immediately during the operation issue. To instead batch and flush manually, set forceFlush = false in the async calls, and call Flush on the session when you are ready to flush (e.g., periodically on a separate thread).

FASTER YCSB benchmark

Our YCSB benchmark uses 8-byte keys and values, and is therefore binary-compatible with FixedLenServer. You can therefore instantiate a FixedLenServer and run the YCSB benchmark to communicate with the server. The benchmark code is available at cs/remote/benchmark/FASTER.benchmark. The benchmark takes several command-line parameters, similar to our embedded FasterKV benchmark, but including extra necessary information such as server IP address and port.

Make sure FixedLenServer is first listening on the same address and port, and has been instantiated with a sufficiently large hash table (8GB):

FixedLenServer -i 8g

Below is a sample benchmark run that runs the benchark with 8 sessions (-t 8), 50% reads (-r 50), Zipf distribution (-d zipf), connecting to IP address on port 3278 (-i -p 3278).

FASTER.benchmark -b 0 -t 8 -r 50 -d zipf -i -p 3278

Since the server is now loaded with data, you can re-run the benchmark without the setup (loading) phase using the -s option, as follows:

FASTER.benchmark -b 0 -t 8 -r 50 -d zipf -i -p 3278 -s

Variable-Length Server and Client

A more realistic and complex scenario is one where we want to store variable-length keys and values in FASTER, similar to standard remote caches and key-value stores. Basically, we want the client to be able to read and write arbitrary sequences of bytes as keys and values, from and to the FASTER server.

On the server side, we instantiate a variable-length FasterKV store using the SpanByte concept of FASTER, which store variable-length sequences of bytes as keys and values, inline in the hybrid log, without needing a separate object log. The data wire format is very simple, as follows:

[ 4 byte payload length | payload ]

On the client side, our session API is based on Memory<byte>, which creates serializations that are binary compatible with the server. Thus, you can read and write arbitrary byte sequences to the server.

Code for variable-length keys and values are available at:

Note that like FixedLenServer, VarLenServer also accepts several command-line arguments to control the server memory utilization and other parameters. For example, you can run the server from the command line to listen on IP address and port 3278 as follows:

> VarLenServer.exe --bind --port 3278

FASTER variable-length KV server
Using page size of 32m
Using log memory size of 16g
There are 512 log pages in memory
Using disk segment size of 1g
Using hash index size of 64m (1m cache lines)
Started server