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Understanding what an L2ARC is

I’ve been silently scanning some Solaris blogs and skimming some of the appropriate websites for documentation on some of the more interesting features of Solaris for awhile now. One thing that requires time to adjust to is the number of acronyms that the Solaris community has to describe their technologies. One of these is called L2ARC.

At first I thought it was some hardware device however after a bit more searching it turns out that it is part of the ZFS technology suite. L2ARC stands for second level ARC where ARC is a read cache system for ZFS that uses a system´s main memory for holding the cache. While ARC uses the hardware´s main memory, L2ARC is designed to take advantage of faster I/O media such as SSD devices to provide faster read throughput than what a typical hard drive can offer.

Brendan Gregg has an excellent overview explaining what the L2ARC is and some of the benefits it can give in accelerating random reads.

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