Subject: Storage | July 31, 2013 - 09:34 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: diablo technologies, DIMM, nand, flash memory, memory channel storage
Ottawa-based Diablo Technologies unveiled a new flash storage technology yesterday that it calls Memory Channel Storage. As the name suggest, the storage technology puts NAND flash into a DIMM form factor and interfaces the persistent storage directly with the processor via the integrated memory controller.
The Memory Channel Storage (MCS) is a drop-in replacement for DDR3 RDIMMs (Registered DIMMs) in servers and storage arrays. Unlike DRAM, MCS is persistent storage backed by NAND flash and it can allow servers to have Terabytes of storage connected to the CPU via the memory interface instead of mere Gigabytes of DRAM acting as either system memory or block storage. The photo provided in the technology report (PDF) shows a 400GB MCS module that can slot into a standard DIMM slot, for example.
Diablo Technologies claims that MCS exhibits lower latencies and higher bandwidth than PCI-E and SATA SSDs. More importantly, the storage latency is predictable and consistent, making it useful for applications such as high frequency stock trading where speed and deterministic latency are paramount. Further, users can get linear increases in throughput with each additional Memory Channel Storage module added to the system. Latencies with MCS are as much as 85% lower with PCI-E SSDs and 96% lower than SAS/SATA SSDs according to Diablo Technologies. NAND flash maintenance such as wear leveling is handled via an on-board logic chip.
Diablo Technologies is also aiming the MCS technology at servers running big data analytics, massive cloud databases, financial applications, server virtualization, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). MCS can act as super fast local storage or as a local cache for external (such as networked) storage in the form of mechanical hard drives or SSDs.
Some details about Memory Channel Storage are still unclear, but it looks promising. It will not be quite as fast in random access as DRAM but it will be better (more bandwidth, lower latency) than both PCI-E and SATA-connected NAND flash-based SSDs. It would be awesome to see this kind of tech make its way to consumer systems so that I can have a physical RAMDisk with fast persistent storage (at least as far as form factor, MCS uses NAND not DRAM chips).
The full press release can be found here.
Samsung recently released engineering samples of new 32GB DDR3 memory modules for evaluation. Specifically, the new modules are registered dual inline memory modules (RDIMMs) that use a “three dimensional through silicon via (TSV) package technology” that provide higher performance and density.
The new DIMMs are made from Samsung’s four gigabit 30 nanometer class NAND, and is capable of delivering 1,333 Mb/s. Further, they consume 4.5 watts of power per hour, which Samsung claims is among the lowest power consuming enterprise DIMMs. Compared to LRDIMMs (load reduced modules), the Samsung modules offer 30 percent energy savings.
The company claims that these power savings are the direct result of the through silicon via technology that allows them to vertically stack the NAND and maintain power levels comparable to single stacked chips. Further, the company stated that they are working with CPU and controller engineers to hasten the adoption rate of higher capacity DIMMs. No word yet on pricing or whether these DIMMs will ever see full production and enterprise usage in their current form.