This is one of a series of posts discussing the presenters at Tech Field Day 10, occurring 3rd – 5th February 2016 in Austin, Texas, at which I am an attending delegate.  See links at the end of this post to other presenting vendors.  Details of the event can be found on the Tech Field Day 10 page at techfieldday.com.

The architecture of computers has been pretty static for a number of decades.  We build systems around a Von Neumann architecture that takes input, performs calculations using local memory and generates output.  In today’s modern server, compute is typically an Intel x86 processor, memory is DDR4 DRAM and input/output comes from external storage, increasingly based on NAND flash.  External storage has always been a system bottleneck, with I/O from processor to DRAM orders of magnitude faster than disk or even flash.  However DRAM is volatile and as a result there is a constant need to commit changes back to persistent (external) storage in case the power is lost.  A lot of coding goes into ensuring that updates to file systems, databases and applications are all consistent should the worst occur and the power be lost.

Imagine a scenario where DRAM was persistent with the trade-off of giving up some of that ultra-high performance DRAM can offer.  In a nutshell this is what Diablo provides – persistent flash storage (NVDIMM) based on the DIMM form factor, technology known as Memory Channel Storage (MCS).  Unfortunately using MCS isn’t as simple as replacing existing DRAM with NVDIMMs as both the O/S and server BIOS need to know that the memory is different (e.g. persistent) and to expect to look for it again after a reboot.  As a result the product is only available in newer server models from specific vendors.

Diablo are a previous presenter at Tech Field Day (Storage Field Day 5) so it will be interesting to see how the technology has developed and more importantly, how applications have been adapted to use persistent, low latency local storage.  More details on the previous presentations from the company can be found below.

Related Links

Disclaimer:  I was personally invited to attend Tech Field Day 10, with the event team covering my travel and accommodation costs.  However I was not compensated for my time.  I am not required to blog on any content; blog posts are not edited or reviewed by the presenters or Tech Field Day team before publication.  

Copyright (c) 2009-2016 – Chris M Evans, first published on https://blog.architecting.it, do not reproduce without permission.

Written by Chris Evans

With 30+ years in IT, Chris has worked on everything from mainframe to open platforms, Windows and more. During that time, he has focused on storage, developed software and even co-founded a music company in the late 1990s. These days it's all about analysis, advice and consultancy.