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Flash memory architecture targets high-performance apps

Posted: 21 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Diablo Technologies? flash memory? SanDisk? 60East Technologies? SSD?

Diablo Technologies has announced a couple of strategic alliances that will see its flash memory architecture find its way into a low-latency electronic trading platform while collaborating with SanDisk on ULLtraDIMM (ULL) technology for servers. 60East Technologies will be incorporating Diablo's Memory Channel Storage (MCS) architecture into its Advanced Message Processing System (AMPS) messaging platform.

60East CEO Jeff Birnbaum said in an interview with EE Times that the company looked at a number of different flash technologies, but Diablo's MCS architecture was the best in terms providing the low latency and high throughput required by AMPS, which is essentially an integrated message broker, database and analytics engine.

Birnbaum said tests in 60East's lab found AMPs, when run on an IBM System x3650 M4 configured with an Intel Xeon E5-2690, two sockets, 16 cores, 128GB of memory and eight 200GB beta units of MCS, performed far better in terms of latency and performance in comparison with systems running existing NAND-based storage. He said the tests replicates the I/O patterns that AMPS uses under heavy loads, and together AMPS and Diablo's MCS were able deliver more than four times as much throughput and an order of magnitude of lower latency in the 99.9th percentile.

IBM System x3650 M4

(Source: Diablo Technologies)

The challenge with flash technology such SSD is that it slows down when it's required to do a combination of reads and writes, said Birnbaum. "They fall apart badly. You get a certain latency at 100 percent writes, but as soon you start doing reads to the device, the writes start to see dramatic latency spikes." Latency remained flat during 60East's tests of MCS.

Introduced by Diablo in July, the MCS architecture connects NAND flash directly to the CPU through a server's memory bus, explained Diablo's VP marketing, Kevin Wagner. Persistent memory is essentially attached to the host processors of a server or storage array. This configuration allows for linear scalability in performance at extremely low latencies for high-demand enterprise applications such as those in the financial service sector and 60East's customers.

Advanced Message Processing System

60East Technologies' Advanced Message Processing System. (Source: Diablo Technologies)

SanDisk, which makes solid-state storage products using NAND flash technology for markets such as consumer electronics and portable computing, also sees a great deal of potential for the MCS architecture and is working with Diablo to develop ULLtraDIMM (ULL) technology for servers. SanDisk will be an exclusive distributor for the MCS technology.

In existing NAND flash configurations in enterprise and cloud data centers, flash is contained in a SSD connected through a SATA or SAS drive interface, or flash sits on a card connected to the PCI-Express interface.

With Diablo's MCS architecture, data does not have to pass through as many intermediary chipsets to reach the microprocessor. This reduction in steps contributes to the improved latency and performance. PCIe devices can reduce system performance and scalability because they must interrupt the processor and require active CPU intervention.

Wagner said in addition to customers such as 60East, Diablo MCS is suitable for enterprise customers with applications that require high performance and ultra-low latency, such as big-data analytics, server and storage virtualization, and consolidation and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Some organizations are looking to get better performance from their VDI deployments and improve the user experience, for example, while others are looking to serve more virtual machines per physical host.

MCS is compatible with industry-standard DDR3 memory slots, and can be deployed in a range of server and storage systems and chassis.

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