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Memory Channel Storage Questions & Answers

David Davis, VCP, VCAP-DCA

Recently, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Jerome McFarland, Principal Product Marketer at Diablo Technologies.  Jerome has an excellent, ‘inside’ understanding of the rapid advancements being made in the memory channel storage arena, and we wanted to ask him some questions about what memory channel storage is, and how it works in virtualized environments:

Q: What is Memory Channel Storage?

Invented and developed by Diablo Technologies, Memory Channel Storage™ (MCS) is an architecture that enables non-volatile memory (NVM) to be accessed directly through the memory subsystem.   The first generation of products based on the MCS architecture were developed through a close technical collaboration between Diablo and SanDisk.  These initial products are the IBM eXFlash™ DIMM and the SanDisk ULLtraDIMM™.  Both solutions are dramatically accelerating applications (e.g. database, virtualization) by providing terabytes of high-performance in-server NAND flash, while maintaining ultra-low latencies.

Learn more about Memory Channel Storage and the first-generation of MCS-based products at:

Q: What makes Memory Channel Storage so fast?

Memory Channel Storage leverages the shortest, fastest, most parallel path to the CPU….the memory channel.    Traditional storage interfaces are bypassed and data remains locally accessible to the application, processor, and system memory.

Q: What kinds of latency figures are achievable with Memory Channel Storage?

Products based on Memory Channel Storage can achieve WRITE latencies as low as 3.3 microseconds….much lower than any other flash storage solution.  READ latencies are comparable to those of other flash-based devices.  However, unlike other devices, MCS-based solutions can maintain the low WRITE and READ latencies even as I/O throughput increases significantly.  This is due to the native parallelism of the memory subsystem and the corresponding parallelism inherent to the MCS architecture.

Q: How does Memory Channel Storage help in virtualized environments?

The performance and consistency advantages of Memory Channel Storage make it an ideal choice for virtualized environments.  Whether used as a high-performance cache or as the flash tier in VMWare Virtual SAN (VSAN), MCS-based products provide a high and consistent quality of service at for virtualized applications.  This is particularly important for applications like VDI, where user experience is defined by the perception of speed and reliability.

Also, as new hyperconvergence technologies emerge to minimize networking latencies, the performance of distributed storage has become increasingly important.  Microseconds matter and Memory Channel Storage ensures optimized performance in hyperconverged infrastructures.

Q: How does Memory Channel Storage integrate with VMware VSAN?

Memory Channel Storage is the ideal flash solution for VMware VSAN.  Not only does MCS offer the lowest flash storage latencies, thereby optimizing VSAN performance,  it also natively enables RAID-0 striping of multiple MCS devices within a VSAN disk group.  This enables customers to adjust the performance and/or capacity of the VSAN flash tier to suit their specific needs…..without needing to add additional disk group and unnecessary HDD capacity.  This is a hugely advantageous feature that is unique to MCS-based devices.

Learn more about how MCS accelerates VSAN, and specifically VDI on VSAN, at http://www.diablo-technologies.com/resources/vdi-acceleration/

Q: How can customers buy Memory Channel Storage systems?

The SanDisk ULLtraDIMM and IBM eXFLash DIMM are the first generation of MCS-enabled products.  These products can be purchased with MCS-enabled servers from an expanding list of OEMs, currently including: IBM (now Lenovo), Supermicro, and Huawei.

More from our video interview with Jerome McFarland from Diablo Technologies:

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