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Different between ZRAM and ZSWAP

First answer :

ZRAM is a module of the Linux kernel, previously called “compcache”. ZRAM increases performance by avoiding paging on disk and instead uses a compressed block device in RAM in which paging takes place until it is necessary to use the swap space on the hard disk drive. Since using RAM is faster than using disks, zram allows Linux to make more use of RAM when swapping/paging is required, especially on older computers with less RAM installed.

ZSWAP is a lightweight compressed cache for swap pages. It takes pages that are in the process of being swapped out and attempts to compress them into a dynamically allocated RAM-based memory pool. zswap basically trades CPU cycles for potentially reduced swap I/O. This trade-off can also result in a significant performance improvement if reads from the compressed cache are faster than reads from a swap device.

Second answer :


  • Status: In staging tree (as of 3.7) and looking to move into mainline
  • Implementation: compressed block device, memory is dynamically allocated as data is stored
  • Usage: Configure zram block device as a swap device to eliminate need for physical swap defice or swap file
  • Benefits:
    1. Eliminates need for physical swap device. This beame popular when netbooks first showed up. Zram (then compcache) allowed users to avoid swap shortening the lifespan of SSDs in these memory constrained systems.
    2. A zram block device can be used for other applications other than swap, anything you might use a block device for conceivably.
  • Drawbacks:
    1. Once a page is stored in zram it will remain there until paged in or invalidated. The first pages to be paged out will be the oldest pages (LRU list), these are ‘cold’ pages that are infrequently access. As the system continues to swap it will move on to pages that are warmer (more frequently accessed), these may not be able to be stored because of the swap slots consumed by the cold pages. What zram can not do (compcache had the option to configure a block backing device) is to evict pages out to physical disk. Ideally you want to age data out of the in-kernel compressed swap space out to disk so that you can use kernel memory for caching warm swap pages or free it for more productive use.


  • Status: Posted to LKML on Dec 11th, 2012
  • Implementation: compressed in-kernel cache for swap pages. In-kernel cache is compressed, the compression algorithm is pluggable using the CryptoAPI and the storage for pages is dynamically allocated. Older pages can be evicted to disk making this a sort of write-behind cache.
  • Usage: Cache swap pages destined for regular swap devices (or swap files).
  • Benefits:
    1. Integration with swap code (using Frontswap API) allows zswap to choose to store only pages that compress well and handle memory allocation failures, in those cases pages are sent to the backing swap device.
    2. Oldest pages in the cache are pushed out to backing swap device to make room for newer pages, this solves the LRU inversion problem that a lack of page eviction would present.
  • Drawbacks:
    1. Needs a physical swap device (or swapfile).