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Non-volatile memory

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Original author: 
Sean Gallagher


The ArxCis-NV DIMM combines DDR3 dynamic memory with a flash memory backup.

Viking Technology

The server world still waits for DDR4, the next generation of dynamic memory, to be ready for prime time. In the meantime, a new set of memory boards from Viking is looking to squeeze more performance out of servers not by providing faster memory, but by making it safer to keep more in memory and less on disk or SSD. Viking Technology has begun supplying dual in-line memory modules that combine DDR3 dynamic memory with NAND flash memory to create non-volatile RAM for servers and storage arrays—modules that don't lose their memory when the systems they're in lose power or shut down.

The ArxCis-NV DIMM, which Viking demonstrated at the Storage Networking Industry Association's SNW Spring conference in Orlando this week, plugs into standard DIMM memory slots in servers and RAID controller cards.  Viking isn't the only player in the non-volatile DIMM game—Micron Technology and AgigA Tech announced their own NVDIMM effort in November—but they're first to market. The modules shipping now to a select group of server manufacturers have 4GB of dynamic RAM and 8GB of NAND memory. Modules with double those figures are planned for later in the year, and modules with 16GB of DRAM and 32GB of NAND are in the works for next year.

The ArxCis can be plugged into existing servers and RAID controllers today as a substitute for battery backed-up (BBU) memory modules. They are even equipped with batteries to power a last-gasp write to NAND memory in the event of a power outage. But the ArxCis is more than a better backup in the event of system failure. Viking's non-volatile DIMMs are primarily aimed at big in-memory computing tasks, such as high-speed in-memory transactional database systems and indices such as those used in search engines and other "hyper-scale" computing applications.  Facebook's "Unicorn" search engine system, for example, keeps massive indices in memory to allow for real-time response to user queries, as does the "type-ahead" feature in Google's search.

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New submitter jyujin writes "Ever wonder how long your SSD will last? It's funny how bad people are at estimating just how long '100,000 writes' are going to take when spread over a device that spans several thousand of those blocks over several gigabytes of memory. It obviously gets far worse with newer flash memory that is able to withstand a whopping million writes per cell. So yeah, let's crunch some numbers and fix that misconception. Spoiler: even at the maximum SATA 3.0 link speeds, you'd still find yourself waiting several months or even years for that SSD to start dying on you."

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Lucas123 writes "New research shows that far more than wireless network or CPUs, the NAND flash memory in cell phones, and in particular smartphones, affects the device's performance when it comes to loading apps, surfing the web and loading and reading documents. In tests with top-selling 16GB smartphones, NAND flash memory slowed mobile app performance from two to three times with one exception, Kingston's embedded memory card; that card slowed app performance 20X. At the bottom of the bottleneck is the fact that while network and CPUs speeds have kept pace with mobile app development, flash throughput hasn't. The researchers from Georgia Tech and NEC Corp. are working on methods to improve flash performance (PDF), including using a PRAM buffer to stage writes or be used as the final location for the SQLite databases."


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sl4shd0rk writes "OCZ is coming out with Synapse Cache; an SSD cache for your hard drive. The SSD runs software that copies data into the cache from your hard drive as you work with it. The data sits on the SSD until it gets less activity and gets flushed to the hard disk. Aside from boosting your IOPS to 10k/75k (read/write), the SSD also supports AES encryption, SMART and TRIM."

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