I/O Completion Port Improvement
I/O completion ports allow threads to wait efficiently for completion of multiple I/O requests. Before Vista, each completion caused a context switch to the issuing thread. Now, the I/O completion is deferred to when the thread pulls off the completion port, which avoids the context switch.
I/O Scalability Improvements
Vista adds a new extended version of the GetQueuedCompletionStatus API named GetQueuedCompletionStatusEx which can return multiple I/O results in a single call. This reduces the user to kernel mode transitions and adds a new API (SetFileCompletionNotificationModes) to optimize the use of completion ports. There is also a new SetFileIoOverlappedRange.API that allows an application to lock a range of virtual addresses in memory that will be used for I/O.
I/O Cancellation Support
We have all encountered the problem where you browse to an off-line network share in the File Save dialog and the system appears to hang waiting for the network timeout to occur. Vista is trying to make these apparent system hangs a thing of the past.
Vista now allows opens and other synchronous I/O requests to be canceled. All of the common control file open/save dialogs implement cancellation support.
Cancellation is implemented using the following APIs:
We've all seen how background I/O (antivirus scans, disk defragmenting, etc.) interferes with foreground tasks. Vista introduces two types of I/O prioritization and is implemented by both the ATAPI and USB storage drivers. These new prioritization are:
I/O priority is based on the priority of the issuing thread or the explicitly set I/O priority.
There are five levels: Critical, High, Normal, Low, Very Low
High and Low are not implemented and Critical is for use only by the memory manager.
The I/O priority is stored in the Flags field of the I/O Request Packet (IRP).
Processes and threads (like the Vista background tasks of file indexing and Windows Defender scans) can lower their I/O priority using the SetPriorityClass and SetThreadPriority APIs.
Drivers can use the IoGetIoPriorityHint and IoSetIoPriorityHint kernel functions.
I/O bandwidth reservation
Streaming multimedia applications (such as Windows Media Player) can use this to request an I/O bandwidth guarantee. This is specified on individual files with the following APIs:
The I/O system reports back to the application the optimal transfer size and the number of outstanding I/Os they should maintain.