'Apple File System' will scale from Apple Watch to Macs, replace HFS+

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in macOS
In an under-the-radar WWDC announcement, Apple on Monday introduced the Apple File System, designed to eventually replace the HFS+ format and better exploit modern technologies.




The Apple File System -- or APFS for short -- is "optimized for Flash/SSD storage, and engineered with encryption as a primary feature," according to an entry in the WWDC 2016 schedule. In official documentation, Apple adds that it uses a "unique copy-on-write design" with I/O coalescing, meant to optimize performance while staying reliable. It will scale from the Apple Watch through to the Mac Pro.

It can be used on conventional hard disks, but Apple cautions that it initially won't work on hybrid Fusion Drives or on startup disks. Likewise, Time Machine and FileVault aren't yet supported, and filenames are still case-sensitive.

A feature called "Space Sharing" will however allow multiple file systems to share the the same storage blocks, and for volumes to change size without any repartitioning. Another space-saving measuring is a new cloning system, which will only write changes to a cloned file to new locations.

Other improvements include things like snapshots and Fast Directory Sizing. Among the encryption features are options for single- or multi-key encryption for each container volume, per-file keys for file data, and a separate metadata key. Either AES-XTS or AES-CBC is used depending on the hardware.

A developer preview of APFS is included with macOS Sierra, although the technology isn't expected to launch until sometime in 2017. In fact there is no open-source implementation at the moment, though Apple says it will document and publish the APFS volume format when the launch happens.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    A little long in coming, but a very welcome change. 
    docno42
  • Reply 2 of 41
    chabigchabig Posts: 624member
    I'm glad Apple is doing this this way, talking about the new system with developers early. Most of the time, Apple keeps everything secret until it's ready for public consumption. For something this foundational, the extra scrutiny can only be good.
    jbdragoncornchip
  • Reply 3 of 41
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Excellent news.  Looking forward to trying it out eventually.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    bitmodbitmod Posts: 267member
    looking forward to all our clients wondering why they can't read their usb sticks at home or on older/other systems or pc's add nausea...
  • Reply 5 of 41
    foljsfoljs Posts: 335member
    bitmod said:
    looking forward to all our clients wondering why they can't read their usb sticks at home or on older/other systems or pc's add nausea...
    Yeah, let's stay forever with a stale filesystem because else some users might annoy support departments...

    Besides USB sticks are usually FAT32 or xFAT as sold, and left at that in use.

    Very few people format their USB sticks as HFS+, and those that do are not the kind of users that will wonder why those formatted in a new FS wont be read by older computers.

    chiastevehlkruppEsquireCatsnolamacguyRayz2016thepixeldocmonstrosityradarthekatjbdragon
  • Reply 6 of 41
    bitmod said:
    looking forward to all our clients wondering why they can't read their usb sticks at home or on older/other systems or pc's add nausea...
    No kidding.  I have to use the primitive MS-DOS FAT on my USB drives in order to share files with Windows machines and play media on my television.  A new, more advanced file system does little good for me.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    This announcement may have livened up the keynote bore-fest.
    coolfactorrcfafrantisek
  • Reply 8 of 41
    Today's announcements left me feeling Apple were focused on cosmetic, "fun-sumer" apps for iOS and macOS rather than pro-level updates. Had this been announced, it would have been more thrilling. The idea of a more pro-level iPad Pro starts with a complete rethink of the way files are handled (I hate the app-centric approach - try transferring a file from iCloud Drive to Google Drive on iPad Pro). Of course, this would require a whole new file system to be compatible with Mac. So given this news, there is some hope on the horizon.
    frantisek
  • Reply 9 of 41
    bitmod said:
    looking forward to all our clients wondering why they can't read their usb sticks at home or on older/other systems or pc's add nausea...
    Should not have any impact on what media the device can read. It just just adds another supported filesystem. You don't need to reformat your removable media.
    edited June 2016 jroyEsquireCatsradarthekatjbdragonai46dysamoriatdknoxjony0
  • Reply 10 of 41
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,448member
    This news probably scares me more than anything. I'm still not over MFS to HFS. ;-)

    Glad to see it coming, but yikes. I'm afraid they will push it out faster than it's ready. A file system is the last place I want bugs. There is something to be said for stability in some areas. 
    welshdog
  • Reply 11 of 41
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,900member
    bdkennedy said:
    This announcement may have livened up the keynote bore-fest.

    So I have to ask...what exactly made it a borefest? What were you expecting? If it was hardware then you were setup for disappointment from the start. This isn't the right event to spend time releasing hardware during a software conference. 

    And since this new file system won't be out until 2017 it really wasn't worth mentioning. 
    nolamacguymobiusRayz2016ai46stevenoztdknoxjony0
  • Reply 12 of 41
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,744member
    mac_128 said:
    This news probably scares me more than anything. I'm still not over MFS to HFS. ;-)

    Glad to see it coming, but yikes. I'm afraid they will push it out faster than it's ready. A file system is the last place I want bugs. There is something to be said for stability in some areas. 
    No doubt they've been working on this for years. A ways back, Apple was contributing to ZFS, which was a file system developed by Sun. We fully expected Apple to move to that years ago. But when Oracle bought Sun, the licensing for ZFS became convoluted, and Apple backed away. I expect that Apple immediately began to look elsewhere. Apparently, APFS is a wholly Apple developed file system that shares at least some characteristics of ZFS. We don't know a whole lot yet, but expect to know a lot more tomorrow after the initial seminar.

    john Siricosa, who is an expert on these things, and who analyses Apple's OS, and who has been a major voice behind Apple getting a new file system, seems to be very enthusiastic right now. I'm really looking forward to finding out more tomorrow, and when available, getting my hands on Apple's technical papers on this.
    edited June 2016 patchythepiratethepixeldocxamaxdysamoriastevenoztdknoxcornchipjony0
  • Reply 13 of 41

    thanx_al said:
    Today's announcements left me feeling Apple were focused on cosmetic, "fun-sumer" apps for iOS and macOS rather than pro-level updates. Had this been announced, it would have been more thrilling. The idea of a more pro-level iPad Pro starts with a complete rethink of the way files are handled (I hate the app-centric approach - try transferring a file from iCloud Drive to Google Drive on iPad Pro). Of course, this would require a whole new file system to be compatible with Mac. So given this news, there is some hope on the horizon.
    Ummm it's a DEVELOPER conference. That means there's very little flash and mostly behind the scenes things.
    tallest skilnolamacguySpamSandwichai46lostkiwi
  • Reply 14 of 41
    cjcoopscjcoops Posts: 68member
    No kidding.  I have to use the primitive MS-DOS FAT on my USB drives in order to share files with Windows machines and play media on my television.  A new, more advanced file system does little good for me.
    You don't have to use FAT, you choose to not install Tuxera NTFS, as one example of a utility to enable ntfs write ability in osX.

  • Reply 15 of 41
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    cjcoops said:
    You don't have to use FAT, you choose to not install Tuxera NTFS, as one example of a utility to enable ntfs write ability in osX.
    For once, I choose instead to blame Microsoft for not caring at all about Windows’ modernity. It’s their fault. They need something we can write to without a paid utility.  :p
  • Reply 16 of 41
    slprescottslprescott Posts: 752member
    Do we know yet whether this will give iOS devices a traditional app-agnostic file system?

    App-centric vs. app-agnostic is an issue where people have strong opinions, so I'm curious to see where the new file system lands in that debate.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 278member
    " and filenames are still case-sensitive" - what does that mean???  Of course a file system should be case sensitive.
    rcfaSpamSandwich
  • Reply 18 of 41
    cjcoopscjcoops Posts: 68member
    cjcoops said:
    You don't have to use FAT, you choose to not install Tuxera NTFS, as one example of a utility to enable ntfs write ability in osX.
    For once, I choose instead to blame Microsoft for not caring at all about Windows’ modernity. It’s their fault. They need something we can write to without a paid utility.  :p

    I agree - I've never seen anyone whine about why Microsoft doesn't support HFS read/write support natively, yet Apple is blamed for Microsoft needing license fees for ntfs ( does Apple require license fees for HFS support say on a Windows computer?).

    OS X can be 'manually' made to enable ntfs write using some Terminal commands, so the system has ntfs write capability built in, but presumably (?) not enabled due to licensing issues.

    Just so anyone else. not aware - either the Tuxera or i think it was some app from Paragon i have used previously, both work perfectly, which means invisibly. Yes, it's a bit of an eye roll that you hav to pay for an app to get this functionality but it's a bargain compared to having to go back to using a Windows machine.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    melgross said:
    mac_128 said:
    This news probably scares me more than anything. I'm still not over MFS to HFS. ;-)

    Glad to see it coming, but yikes. I'm afraid they will push it out faster than it's ready. A file system is the last place I want bugs. There is something to be said for stability in some areas. 
    No doubt they've been working on this for years. A ways back, Apple was contributing to ZFS, which was a file system developed by Sun. We fully expected Apple to move to that years ago. But when Oracle bought Sun, the licensing for ZFS became convoluted, and Apple backed away. I expect that Apple immediately began to look elsewhere. Apparently, APFS is a wholly Apple developed file system that shares at least some characteristics of ZFS. We don't know a whole lot yet, but expect to know a lot more tomorrow after the initial seminar.

    john Siricosa, who is an expert on these things, and who analyses Apple's OS, and who has been a major voice behind Apple getting a new file system, seems to be very enthusiastic right now. I'm really looking forward to finding out more tomorrow, and when available, getting my hands on Apple's technical papers on this.
    Agreed. COW is a ZFS trait for sure, but Im guessing Apple modified the hell out of it to suit a mobile OS, memory limitations and fragmentation. ZFS isn't for your typical user desktop. I don't think people even used it as such, although Ubuntu 16.1 LTS seems to have embraced ZFS on Linux so much so it included it in the Kernel. I use it for servers and its great.


    Apple had to move on from HFS+. Microsoft is moving to a newer, faster FS focused on virtualization. NTFS will phase out over the next few years. Apple's focus will definitely be cloud and mobile. So a compressible, encryptable FS that spans all devices AND their backend infrastructure is the only way to normalize performance and keep a laser focus on its development.
    pb
  • Reply 20 of 41
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,692member
    mac_128 said:
    This news probably scares me more than anything. I'm still not over MFS to HFS. ;-)

    Glad to see it coming, but yikes. I'm afraid they will push it out faster than it's ready. A file system is the last place I want bugs. There is something to be said for stability in some areas. 
    I agree, this always makes me nervous. Inevitably there will be people who lose all their data because of some flaw in the new file system or due to their own errors, but yikes that is always super bad publicity.  I hope that something this critical gets special debugging and testing attention inside Apple - more attention than they typically give to the OS or apps.
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