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Page Buffering Algorithm in Operating System

Last Updated : 07 Sep, 2023
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The Page Buffering Algorithm is used in Operating systems and Database Management Systems as a key method to streamline data access and minimize disc I/O operations. It is largely used in virtual memory systems, where data is kept on secondary storage (disc) and brought into main memory as needed.

The Page Buffering Algorithm’s primary goal is to reduce the latency associated with accessing data from a disc, which is much slower than doing it from main memory. The approach optimizes system performance by intelligently buffering frequently visited pages in memory, minimizing the requirement for disc I/O operations.

Basic Terminologies Used in Page Buffering

  • Buffer or Cache: The technique used in this algorithm keeps a portion of the pages that are currently stored on the disc in a buffer or cache that is located in the main memory. This buffer serves as a short-term repository for frequently viewed pages.
  • Page Requests: The operating system determines if a requested page is already in the buffer when a process requests a specific page. If so, the time-consuming disc access can be skipped and the page can be fetched straight from memory.
  • Eviction Strategy: The Page Buffering Algorithm uses an eviction approach to free up space for freshly requested pages because the buffer has a finite capacity. A page replacement policy is used when the buffer is full to determine which page or pages should be removed to make room for the new page.
  • Locality of Reference: The notion of locality, which asserts that recently viewed pages are likely to be accessed again soon, is used by the Page Buffering Algorithm to its benefit.
  • Virtual memory: It offers the underlying mechanism for effective memory resource management and enables the buffering of frequently visited pages.

What is the Need for Page Buffering?

Data is kept in pages on secondary storage (disc) in virtual memory systems and transferred into main memory as needed. Performance issues arise because disc access is much slower than RAM access. This problem is solved by the Page Buffering Algorithm, which stores frequently used pages in a buffer or cache in the main memory. There is a very vital role of Virtual memory to make this buffer possible.

Page Buffering

Page Buffering

How Does Page Buffering Work?

  • Buffer Initialization: A portion of the main memory, known as the buffer or cache, is reserved to hold a subset of pages from secondary storage (disk) and it is initially empty.
  • Page Request: The operating system determines if a requested page is already in the buffer before sending it. When a page is located in the buffer (a cache hit), it may be accessed directly from memory without requiring a disc I/O operation. If the requested page is not already in the buffer (a cache miss), a disc I/O operation is started to load the page.
  • Buffer Management: The page buffering algorithm controls the buffer as pages are added to it to ensure the effective use of memory resources. An eviction approach is used to free up space for freshly requested pages when the buffer is full. To choose which page(s) to remove from the buffer, a number of page replacement rules may be applied, including Least Recently Used (LRU), First-In-First-Out (FIFO), and Clock algorithm.
  • Access and Update: A page may be directly read and changed in memory once it is in the buffer, obviating the requirement for disc access. Data consistency is ensured by the eventual propagation of any changes to the page in the buffer back to secondary storage.
  • Locality of Reference: The locality concept, which asserts that recently viewed pages are likely to be accessed again soon, is used by the page buffering algorithm. The program predicts future access by buffering these frequently visited pages in memory, which lowers the requirement for expensive disc I/O operations.
  • Performance Optimization: The page buffering algorithm’s main objective is to reduce the delay associated with disc access. The approach decreases the amount of disc I/O operations, speeds up data retrieval, and increases system performance by retaining frequently requested pages in the quicker main memory.
Working of Buffering Algorithm

Working of Buffering Algorithm

Benefits of Page Buffering Algorithm

  • Reduced Disk I/O Operations: The algorithm reduces the demand for disc I/O operations by buffering frequently requested pages in memory.
  • Improved Data Retrieval Speed: There is no delay involved when a page is retrieved directly from memory while it is already in the buffer (cache hit).
  • Optimal Resource Utilization: The Page Buffering Algorithm selectively caches frequently requested pages to maximize the use of memory resources. The buffer is dynamically managed, with less often used pages being removed to make place for more frequently used ones.
  • Locality of Reference: The program takes advantage of this proximity by buffering frequently visited pages, predicting upcoming accesses, and decreasing the time required for disc I/O operations.
  • Enhanced System Performance: The Page Buffering Algorithm dramatically improves system performance by minimizing disc I/O operations, speeding up data retrieval, and optimizing resource use.

Implementation of Page Buffering Algorithm

The implementation may vary depending on the specific operating system or database management system. Although the below-given implementation steps are generalized and mostly used. Also, this is a high-level overview of how the algorithm is typically implemented:

  • In the beginning, a data structure like an array, a linked list, or a more sophisticated data structure like a hash table or a binary tree is chosen to represent the buffer or cache in the memory. This buffer has a fixed size and it keeps a subset of the files in the secondary storage.
  • Then the page table is maintained and updated which stores all the mapping of the virtual memory address and the corresponding pages in the buffer.
  • At the initial stage, the buffer is empty and the page table entries are initialized accordingly and the status bits are set correspondingly. The status bits indicate whether the page is currently in the buffer or not.
  • The page buffering algorithm detects whether a page is requested or not, after that it checks whether the page is already available in the buffer or not.
  • When the requested page is located in the buffer (cache hit) and is retrieved straight from the buffer memory the page table is updated.
  • When the requested page is not located in the buffer (cache miss) a disk I/O operation is triggered to fetch the page from secondary storage. Then Page replacement policy is used to replace any existing page and read that page into a free buffer slot.
  • If the buffer is full when a new page needs to be brought in (cache miss), an eviction strategy which is a Popular page replacement algorithm is employed to select a page for a replacement.
  • The page buffering method adjusts continually to processes’ shifting access patterns. It uses heuristics to forecast future access patterns and modifies the buffer contents dynamically based on the frequency of page accesses to maximize the hit rate.

FAQs on Page Buffering Algorithm

Q1: What is the purpose of the Page Buffering Algorithm?


The page buffering algorithm’s main goal is to boost the operating system’s memory management’s effectiveness and performance. Caching frequently visited pages in memory minimizes disc I/O operations and lowers the latency and overhead of disc access.

Q2: How does the Page Buffering Algorithm work?


It is already given in detail with an image above.

Q3: What are the benefits of using the Page Buffering Algorithm?


The benefits of using this is also already given above.

Q4: What are some popular Page Buffering Algorithms in OS?


Some popular Page Buffering Algorithms used in OS are Least Frequently Used(LFU), Most Frequently Used(MFU), and Thrashing Algorithm.

To sum it up the Page Buffering Algorithm is an essential part of operating systems’ memory management. It improves performance and speeds up data access by buffering frequently requested pages in memory, reducing the need for disc I/O operations. To optimize memory use and boost overall system efficiency, system designers and developers must have a solid understanding of this method.

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