Crate tickv

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TicKV (Tiny Circular Key Value) is a small file system allowing key value pairs to be stored in Flash Memory.

TicKV was written to allow the Tock OS kernel to persistently store app data on flash. It was written to be generic though, so other Rust applications can use it if they want.

TicKV is based on similar concepts as Yaffs1.

Goals of TicKV

TicKV is designed with these main goals (in order)

  • Fully implemented in no_std Rust
  • Power loss resilient
  • Maintain data integrity and detect media errors
  • Wear leveling
  • Low memory usage
  • Low storage overhead
  • No external crates in use (not including unit tests)

TicKV is also designed with some assumptions

  • Most operations will be retrieving keys
  • Some operations will be storing keys
  • Keys will rarely be deleted
  • Key values will rarely need to be modified

ACID characteristics

TicKV provides ACID properties. For the purpose of ACID a transaction is a key operation, that is finding, adding, invalidating or fully removing (garbage collection) a key.

To provide ACIS characteristics TicKV requires that the FlashController implementation complete all transactions in a single operation. That is the flash write() function must either successfully write all of the data or none. If the implementation completes a partial operation, then the Atomicity and Consistency traits will be lost. If the implementation reports completion when the data hasn’t been written yet, then the Isolation trait will be lost.

Atomicity: TicKV guarantees that all operations are treated as a single unit inside the implementation. The database will be left unchanged if a transaction fails.

Consistency: Consistency is maintained similar to atomicity. All operations can only take the database from a valid state to another valid state.

Isolation: TicKV only allows a single operation at a time. In this way it provides isolation. The layer above TicKV is responsible for handling concurrent accesses by deferring operations for example.

Durability: TicKV ensures durability and once a transaction has completed and been committed to flash it will remain there.

Using TicKV

See the generated Rust documentation for details on using this in your project.

How TicKV works

Unlike a regular File System (FS) TicKV is only designed to store Key/Value (KV) pairs in flash. It does not support writing actual files, directories or other complex objects. Although a traditional file system layer could be added on top to add such features.

TicKV allows writing new key/value pairs (by appending them) and removing old key/value pairs.

TicKV has two important types, regions and objects.

A TicKV region is the smallest region of the flash memory that can be erased in a single command.

TicKV saves and restores objects from flash. TicKV objects contain the value the user wanted to store as well as extra header data. Objects are internal to TicKV and users don’t need to understand them in detail to use it.

For more details on the technical implementation see the file.

Using TicKV

To use TicKV first you need to implemented the FlashCtrl trait. The example below is for 1024 byte region sizes.

Then you will need to create a TicKV implementation.

// EXAMPLE ONLY: The `DefaultHasher` is subject to change
// and hence is not a good fit.
use std::collections::hash_map::DefaultHasher;
use std::hash::{Hash, Hasher};
use std::cell::RefCell;
use tickv::{TicKV, MAIN_KEY};
use tickv::error_codes::ErrorCode;
use tickv::flash_controller::FlashController;

fn get_hashed_key(unhashed_key: &[u8]) -> u64 {
    let mut hash_function = DefaultHasher::new();
    unhashed_key.hash(&mut hash_function);

struct FlashCtrl {
    buf: RefCell<[[u8; 1024]; 64]>,

impl FlashCtrl {
    fn new() -> Self {
        Self {
            buf: RefCell::new([[0xFF; 1024]; 64]),

impl FlashController<1024> for FlashCtrl {
    fn read_region(&self, region_number: usize, offset: usize, buf: &mut [u8; 1024]) -> Result<(), ErrorCode> {
        // TODO: Read the specified flash region
        for (i, b) in buf.iter_mut().enumerate() {
            *b = self.buf.borrow()[region_number][offset + i]

    fn write(&self, address: usize, buf: &[u8]) -> Result<(), ErrorCode> {
        // TODO: Write the data to the specified flash address
        for (i, d) in buf.iter().enumerate() {
            self.buf.borrow_mut()[address / 1024][(address % 1024) + i] = *d;

    fn erase_region(&self, region_number: usize) -> Result<(), ErrorCode> {
        // TODO: Erase the specified flash region

let mut read_buf: [u8; 1024] = [0; 1024];

let mut hash_function = DefaultHasher::new();
MAIN_KEY.hash(&mut hash_function);

let tickv = TicKV::<FlashCtrl, 1024>::new(FlashCtrl::new(),
                  &mut read_buf, 0x1000);

// Add a key
let value: [u8; 32] = [0x23; 32];
tickv.append_key(get_hashed_key(b"ONE"), &value).unwrap();

// Get the same key back
let mut buf: [u8; 32] = [0; 32];
tickv.get_key(get_hashed_key(b"ONE"), &mut buf).unwrap();

You can then use the get_key() function to get the key back from flash.


TicKV will prevent a new key/value pair with a colliding hash of the key to be added. The collision will be reported to the user with the KeyAlreadyExists ErroCode.

Power loss protection

TicKV ensures that in the event of a power loss, no stored data is lost or corrupted. The only data that can be lost in the event of a power loss is the data currently being written (if it hasn’t been write to flash yet).

If a power loss occurs after calling append_key() or invalidate_key() before it has completed then the operation probably did not complete and that data is lost.

To help reduce this time to be as short as possible the FlashController is synchronous. Although flash writes can take a considerable amount of time and this will stall the application, this still seems like a good idea to avoid loosing data.


TicKV uses check sums to check data integrity. TicKV does not have any measures to prevent malicious manipulation or privacy. An attacker with access to the flash can change the values without being detected. An attacked with access to flash can also read all of the information. Any privacy, security or authentication measures need to be layered on top of TicKV.


TicKV stores the version when adding objects to the flash storage.

TicKV is currently version 0.

  • Version 0
    • Version 0 is a draft version. It should NOT be used for important data! Version 0 maintains no backwards compatible support and could change at any time.


pub use crate::tickv::MAIN_KEY;


TicKV can be used asynchronously. This module provides documentation and tests for using it with an async FlashController interface.

The standard error codes used by TicKV.

The Flash Controller interface with hardware

The standard success codes used by TicKV.

The TicKV implementation.


The struct storing all of the TicKV information for the async implementation.

The struct storing all of the TicKV information.


Standard error codes.


Implementation required for the flash controller hardware. This should read, write and erase flash from the hardware using the flash controller.