History of caching

In computing, a cache is a component that stores data so future requests for that data can be served faster; the data stored in a cache might be the results of an earlier computation, or the duplicates of data stored elsewhere. A cache hit occurs when the requested data can be found in a cache, while a cache miss occurs when it cannot. Cache hits are served by reading data from the cache, which is faster than recomputing a result or reading from a slower data store; thus, the more requests can be served from the cache, the faster the system performs.

To be cost-effective and to enable efficient use of data, caches are relatively small. Nevertheless, caches have proven themselves in many areas of computing because access patterns in typical computer applications exhibit the locality of reference. Moreover, access patterns exhibit temporal locality if data is requested again that has been recently requested already, while spatial locality refers to requests for data physically stored close to data that has been already requested. 

Database caching

Many applications today are being developed and deployed on multi-tier environments that involve browser-based clients, web application servers and backend databases. These applications need to generate web pages on-demand by talking to backend databases because of their dynamic nature, making middle-tier database caching an effective approach to achieve high scalability and performance. 

In a three tier architecture, the application tier and data tier can be in different hosts. Throughput of the application is affected by the network speed. This network overhead will be avoided by having the database at the application tier. As commercial databases are heavy weight, it is not practically feasible to have the application and the database at the same host. There are lot of light-weight databases available on the market, which can be used to cache data from the commercial databases

Distributed cache

In computing, a  distributed cache is an extension of the traditional concept of  cache used in a single  locale. A distributed cache may span multiple servers so that it can grow in size and in transactional capacity. It is mainly used to store application data residing indatabase and web session data. The idea of distributed caching has become feasible now because  main memory has become very cheap and  network cards have become very fast, with 1 Gbit now standard everywhere and 10 Gbit gaining traction. Also, a distributed cache works well on lower cost machines usually employed for  web servers as opposed to  database servers which require expensive hardware. 


Hardware implements cache as a block of memory for temporary storage of data likely to be used again. Central processing units (CPUs) and hard disk drives (HDDs) frequently use a cache, as do web browsers and web servers.

A cache is made up of a pool of entries. Each entry has associated data, which is a copy of the same data in some backing store. Each entry also has a tag, which specifies the identity of the data in the backing store of which the entry is a copy.

When the cache client (a CPU, web browser, operating system) needs to access data presumed to exist in the backing store, it first checks the cache. If an entry can be found with a tag matching that of the desired data, the data in the entry is used instead. This situation is known as a cache hit. So, for example, a web browser program might check its local cache on disk to see if it has a local copy of the contents of a web page at a particular URL. In this example, the URL is the tag, and the contents of the web page is the data. The percentage of accesses that result in cache hits is known as the hit rate or hit ratio of the cache.

The alternative situation, when the cache is consulted and found not to contain data with the desired tag, has become known as a cache miss. The previously uncached data fetched from the backing store during miss handling is usually copied into the cache, ready for the next access.

During a cache miss, the CPU usually ejects some other entry in order to make room for the previously uncached data. The heuristic used to select the entry to eject is known as the replacement policy. One popular replacement policy, "least recently used" (LRU), replaces the least recently used entry (see cache algorithm). More efficient caches compute use frequency against the size of the stored contents, as well as the latencies and throughputs for both the cache and the backing store. This works well for larger amounts of data, longer latencies and slower throughputs, such as experienced with a hard drive and the Internet, but is not efficient for use with a CPU cache.