Diablo Technologies' MCS architecture uses flash memory as RAM

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A new breakthrough in flash memory from Diablo Technologies could have a tremendous impact on the performance of future storage systems. By tapping into the speedy data channel used to link CPUs with system memory, the company claims their Memory Channel Storage (MCS) architecture is able to reduce latencies by more than 85 percent compared to a PCI Express solid state drive.

As Diablo vice president of marketing Kevin Wagner pointed out, the memory channel is the fastest route to the CPU (aside from on-chip cache) and there’s essentially no bottlenecks to contend with.

With MCS, Diablo essentially figured out how to use the standard DDR3 interface and protocols to work with flash memory in servers. It’s an attractive proposal as flash memory is much cheaper than standard RAM and also much more compact. As such, an MCS component can contain up to 400GBs of storage and fits inside a standard DIMM slot that typically only accommodates 32GB modules.

Diablo says the only change needed to use MCS components is the addition of a few lines of code in the BIOS which sounds like a pretty reasonable tradeoff to me.

Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis, said having more RAM is something that a lot of people are going to get very excited about. In an optimal scenario, you’d like everything to be in RAM as it’s faster than traditional storage. Everything that’s in storage is just there because it can’t fit in RAM, he said.

The technology is already being implemented in the real world as a tier-one server vendor is preparing a dozen or so models that will use MCS. The first models are expected to ship this year, we’re told.

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