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    Your Questions Answered on NVDIMM

    May 23rd, 2016

    The recent NVDIMM webcasts on the SNIA BrightTALK Channel sparked many questions from the almost 1,000 viewers who have watched it live or downloaded the on-demand cast. Now,  NVDIMM SIG Chairs Arthurnvdimm blog Sainio and Jeff Chang answer 35 of them in this blog.  Did you miss the live broadcasts? No worries, you can view NVDIMM and other webcasts on the SNIA webcast channel https://www.brighttalk.com/channel/663/snia-webcasts.

    FUTURES QUESTIONS

    What timeframe do you see server hardware, OS, and applications readily adopting/supporting/recognizing NVDIMMs?

    DDR4 server and storage platforms are ready now. There are many off-the shelf server and/or storage motherboards that support NVDIMM-N.

    Linux version 4.2 and beyond has native support for NVDIMMs. All the necessary drivers are supported in the OS.

    NVDIMM adoption is in progress now.

    Technical Preview 5 of Windows Server 2016 has NVDIMM-N support
     

    How, if at all, does the positioning of NVDIMM-F change after the eventual introduction of new NVM technologies?

    If 3DXP is successful it will likely to have a big impact on NVDIMM-F. 3DXP could be seen as an advanced version of a NVDIMM-F product. It sits directly on the DDR4 bus and is byte addressable.

    NVDIMM-F products have the challenge of making them BYTE ADDRESSBLE, depending on what kind of persistent media is used.

    If NAND flash is used, it would take a lot of techniques and resources to make such a product BYTE ADDRESSABLE.

    On the other hand, if the new NVM technologies bring out persistent media that are BYTE ADDRESSABLE then the NVDIMM-F could easily use them for their backend.
    How does NVDIMM-N compare to Intel’s 3DXPoint technology?

    At this point there is limited technical information available on 3DXP devices.

    When the specifications become available the NVDIMM SIG can create a comparison table.

    NVDIMM-N products are available now. 3DXP-based products are planned for 2017, 2018. Theoretically 3DXP devices could be used on NVDIMM-N type modules

     

     

     

    PERFORMANCE AND ENDURANCE QUESTIONS

    What are the NVDIMM performance and endurance requirements?

    NVDIMM-N is no different from a RDIMM under normal operating conditions. The endurance of the Flash or NVM technology used on the NVDIMM-N is not a critical factor since it is only used for backup.

    NVDIMM-F would depend on various factors: (1) is the backend going to be NAND Flash or some other entity? (2) What kind of access pattern is going to be done by the application? The performance must be at least same as that of NVDIMM-N.

    Are there endurance requirements for NVDIMM-F? Won’t the flash wear out quickly when used as memory?

    Yes, the aspect of Flash being used as a RANDOM access device with MEMORY access characteristics would definitely have an impact on the endurance.
    NVDIMM-F – Doesn’t the performance limitations of the NAND vs. DRAM effect the application?

    NAND Flash would never hit the performance requirements of the DRAM when seen as an entity to entity comparison. But, in the whole perspective of a wider solution, the data path of DRAM data -> Persistence Data in a traditional model would have more delays contributed by a good number of software layers involved in making the data persistent versus, in the NVDIMM-F the data that is instantly persistent — for just a short term additional latency.
    Is there extra heat being generated….does it need any other cooling (NVDIMM-F, NVDIMM-N)

    No
    In general, our testing of NVDIMM-F vs PCIe based SSDs has not shown the expected value of NVDIMMs.  The PCIe based NVMe storage still outperforms the NVDIMMs.

    TBD
    What is the amount of overhead that NVDIMMs are adding on CPUs?

    None at normal operation
    What can you say about the time required typically to charge the supercaps?  Is the application aware of that status before charge is complete?

    Approximately two minutes depending on the density of the NVDIMM and the vendor.

    The NVDIMM will not be ready because the charging status and in turn the system BIOS will wait; until it times out if the NVDIMM is not functioning.

    USE QUESTIONS

    What will happen if a system crashes then comes back before the NVDIMM finishes backup? How the OS know what to continue as the state in the register/L1/L2/L3 cache is already lost?

    When system comes back up, it will check if there is valid data backed up in the NVDIMM. If yes, backed up data will be restored first before the BIOS sets up the system.

    The OS can’t depend on the contents of the L1/L2/L3 cache. Applications must do I/O fencing, use commit points, etc. to guarantee data consistency.

    Power supply should be able to hold power for at least 1ms after the warning of AC power loss.

    Is there garbage collection on NVDIMMs?

    This depends on individual vendors. NVDIMM-N may have overprovisioning and wear levering management for the NAND Flash.

    Garbage collection really only makes sense for NVDIMM-F.
    How is byte addressing enabled for NAND storage?

    By default, the NAND storage can be addressed only through the BLOCK mode addressing. If BYTE addressability is desired, then the DDR memory at the front must provide sophisticated CACHING TECHNIQUES to trick the Host Memory Controller in to thinking that it is actually accessing a larger capacity DDR memory.
    Is the restore command issued over the I2C bus?  Is that also known as the SMBus?

    Yes, Yes
    Could NVDIMM-F products be used as both storage and memory within the same server?

    NVDIMM-F is by definition only block storage. NVDIMM-P is both (block) storage and memory.

     

    COMPATIBILITY QUESTIONS

     

    Is NVDIMM-N support built into the OS or do the NVDIMM vendors need to provide drivers? What OS’s (Windows version, Linux kernel version) have support?

    In Linux, right from 4.2 version of the Kernel, the generic NVDIMM-N support is available.

    All the necessary drivers are provided in the OS itself.

    Regarding the Linux distributions, only Fedora and Ubuntu have upgraded themselves to the 4.x kernel.

    The crucial aspect is, the BIOS/MRC support needed for the vendor specific NVDIMM-N to get exposed to the Host OS.

    MS Windows has OS support – need to download.
    What OS support is available for NVDIMM-F? I’m assuming some sort of drivers is required.

    Diablo has said they worked the BIOS vendors to enable their Memory1 product. We need to check with them.

    For other NVDIMM-F vendors they would likely require drivers.

    As of now no native OS support is available.
    Will NVDIMMs work with typical Intel servers that are 2-3 years old?   What are the hardware requirements?

    The depends on the CPU. For Haswell, Grantley, Broadwell, and Purley the NVDIMM-N are and/or will be supported

    The hardware requires that the CPLD, SAVE, and ADR signals are present

    Is RDMA compatible with NVDIMM-F or NVDIMM-N?

    The RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access) is not available by default for NVDIMM-N and NVDIMM-F.

    A software layer/extension needs to be written to accommodate that. Works are in progress by the PMEM committee (www.pmem.io) to make the RDMA feature available transparently for the applications in the future.

    SNIA Reference: http://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/SDC15_presentations/persistant_mem/ChetDouglas_RDMA_with_PM.pdf
    What’s the highest capacity that an NVDIMM-N can support?

    Currently 8GB and 16GB but this depends on individual vendor’s roadmaps.

     

    COST QUESTIONS

    What is the NVDIMM cost going to look like compared to other flash type storage options?

    This relates directly to what types and quantizes of Flash, DRAM, controllers and other components are used for each type.

     

    MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

    How many vendors offer NVDIMM products?

    AgigA Tech, Diablo, Hynix, Micron, Netlist, PNY, SMART, and Viking Technology are among the vendors offering NVDIMM products today.

     

    Is encryption on the NVDIMM handled by the controller on the NVDIMM or the OS?

    Encryption on the NVDIMM is under discussion at JEDEC. There has been no standard encryption method adopted yet.

    If the OS encrypts data in memory the contents of the NVDIMM backup would be encrypted eliminating the need for the NVDIMM to perform encryption. Although because of the performance penalty of OS encryption, NVDIMM encryption is being considered by NVDIMM vendors.
    Are memory operations what is known as DAX?

    DAX means Direct Access and is the optimization used in the modern file systems – particularly EXT4 – to eliminate the Kernel Cache for holding the write data. With no intermediate cache buffers, the write operations go directly to the media. This makes the writes persistent as soon as they are committed.

    Can you give some practical examples of where you would use NVDIMM-N, -F, and –P?

    NVDIMM-N: load/store byte access for journaling, tiering, caching, write buffering and metadata storage

    NVDIMM-F: block access for in-memory database (moving NAND to the memory channel eliminates traditional HDD/SSD SAS/PCIe link transfer, driver, and software overhead)

    NVDIMM-P: can be used either NVDIMM-N or –F applications
    Are reads and writes all the same latency for NVDIMM-F?

    The answer depends on what kind of persistent layer is used.   If it is the NAND flash, then the random writes would have higher latencies when compared to the reads. If the 3D XPoint kind of persistent layer is used, it might not be that big of a difference.

     

    I have interest in the NVDIMMs being used as a replacement for SSD and concerns about clearing cache (including credentials) stored as data moves from NVM to PM on an end user device

    The NVDIMM-N uses serialization and fencing with Intel instructions to guarantee data is in the NVDIMM before a power failure and ADR.

     

    I am interested in how many banks of NVDIMMs can be added to create a very large SSD replacement in a server storage environment.

    NVDIMMs are added to a system in memory module slots. The current maximum density is 16GB or 32GB. Server motherboards may have 16 or 24 slots. If 8 of these slots have 16GB NVDIMMs that should be like a 96GB SSD.
    What are the environmental requirements for NVDIMMs (power, cooling, etc.)?

    There are some components on NVDIMMs that have a lower operating temperature than RDIMMs like flash and FPGA devices. Refer to each vendor’s data sheet for more information. Backup Energy Sources based on ultracapacitors require health monitoring and a controlled thermal environment to ensure an extended product life.
    How about data-at-rest protection management? Is the data in NVDIMM protected/encrypted? Complying with TCG and FIPS seems very challenging. What are the plans to align with these?

    As of today, encryption has not been standardized by JEDEC. It is currently up to each NVDIMM vendor whether or not to provide encryption..

     

    Could you explain the relationship between the NVDIMM and the IO stack?

    In the PMEM mode, the Kernel presents the NVDIMM as a reserved memory, directly accessible by the Host Memory Controller.

    In the Block Mode, the Kernel driver presents the NVDIMM as a block device to the IO Block Layer.
    With NVDIMMs the data can be in memory or storage. How is the data fragmentation managed?

    The NVDIMM-N is managed as regular memory. The same memory allocation fragmentation issues and handling apply. The NVDIMM-F behaves like an SSD. Fragmentation issues on an NVDIMM-F are handled like an SSD with garbage collection algorithms.

     

    Is there a plan to support PI type data protection for NVDIMM data? If not, achieving E2E data protection cannot be attained.

    As of today, encryption has not been standardized by JEDEC. It is currently up to each NVDIMM vendor whether or not to provide encryption.

     

    Since NVDIMM is still slower than DRAM so we still need DRAM in the system? We cannot get rid of DRAM yet?

    With NVDIMM-N DRAM is still being used. NVDIMM-N operates at the speed of standard RDIMM

    With NVDIMM-F modules, DRAM memory modules are still needed in the system.

    With NVDIMM-P modules, DRAM memory modules are still needed in the system.
    Can you use NVMe over ethernet?

    NVMe over Fabrics is under discussion within SNIA http://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/SDC15_presentations/networking/WaelNoureddine_Implementing_%20NVMe_revision.pdf

     


    SNIA NVM Summit Delivers the Persistent Memory Knowledge You Need

    January 18th, 2016

    by Marty Foltyn

    The discussion, use, and application of Non-volatile Memory (NVM) has come a long way from the first SNIA NVM Summit in 2013.  The significant improvements in persistent memory, with enormous capacity, memory-like speed and non-volatility, will make the long-awaited promise of the convergence storage and memory a reality. In this 4th annual NVM Summit, we will see how Storage and Memory have now converged, and learn that we are now faced with developing the needed ecosystem.  Register and join colleagues on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 in San Jose, CA to learn more, or follow http://www.snia.org/nvmsummit to review presentations post- event.

    The Summit day begins with Rick Coulson, Senior Fellow, Intel, discussing the most recent developments in persistent memory with a presentation on All the Ways 3D XPoint Impacts Systems Architecture.

    Ethan Miller, Professor of Computer Science at UC Santa Cruz, will discuss Rethinking Benchmarks for Non-Volatile Memory Storage Systems. He will describe the challenges for benchmarks posed by the transition to NVM, and propose potential solutions to these challenges.

    Ken Gibson, NVM SW Architecture, Intel will present Memory is the New Storage: How Next Generation NVM DIMMs will Enable New Solutions That Use Memory as the High-Performance Storage Tier . This talk reviews some of the decades-old assumptions that change for suppliers of storage and data services as solutions move to memory as the new storage

    Jim Handy, General Director, Objective Analysis, and Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates will discuss Future Memories and Today’s Opportunities, exploring the role of NVM in today’s and future applications. They will give some market analysis and projections for the various NVM technologies in use today.

    Matt Bryson, SVP-Research, ABR, will lead a panel on NVM Futures-Emerging Embedded Memory Technologies, exploring the current status and future opportunities for NVM technologies and in particular both embedded and standalone MRAM technologies and associated applications.

    Edward Sharp, Chief, Strategy and Technology, PMC-Sierra, will present Changes Coming to Architecture with NVM. Although the IT industry has made tremendous progress innovating up and down the computing stack to enable, and take advantage of, non-volatile memory, is it sufficient, and where are the weakest links to fully unlock the potential of NVM.

    Don Jeanette, VP and John Chen, VP of Trendfocus will review the Solid State Storage Market, discuss what is happening in various segments, and why, as it relates to PCIe.

    Dejan Vucinc, HGST San Jose Research Center will discuss Latency in Context: Finding Room for NVMs in the Existing Software Ecosystem. HGST Research has been working diligently to find out where is there room in the existing hardware/software ecosystem for emerging NVM technology when viewed as block storage rather than main memory. Vucinc will show an update on previously published results using prototype PCI Express-attached PCM SSDs and our custom device protocol, DC Express, as well as measurements of its latency and performance through a proper device driver using several different kinds of Linux kernel block layer architecture.

    Arthur Sainio, Director Marketing, SMART Modular and Co-Chair, SNIA NVDIMM SIG, will lead a panel on NVDIMM. discussing how new media types are joining NAND Flash, and enhanced controllers and networking are being developed to unlock the latency and throughput advantages of NVDIMM.

    Neal Christiansen, Principal Development Lead, Microsoft, Microsoft will discuss Storage Class Memory Support in the Windows OS. Storage Class Memories (SCM) have been the topic of R&D for the last few years and with the promise of near term product delivery, the question is how will Windows be enabled for such SCM products and how can applications take advantage of these capabilities.

    Jeff Moyer, Principal Software Engineer, Red Hat will give an overview of the current state of Persistent Memory Support in the Linux Kernel.

    Cristian Diaconu, Principal Software Engineer, Microsoft will present Microsoft SQL Hekaton – Towards Large Scale Use of PM for In-memory Databases, using the example of Hekaton (Sql Server in-memory database engine) to break down the opportunity areas for non-volatile memory in the database space.

    Tom Talpey, Architect File Server Team, Microsoft, will discuss Microsoft Going Remote at Low Latency: A Future Networked NVM Ecosystem. As new ultra-low latency storage such as Persistent Memory and NVM is deployed, it becomes necessary to provide remote access – for replication, availability and resiliency to errors.

    Kevin Deierling, VP Marketing, Mellanox will discuss the role of the network in developing Persistent Memory over Fabrics, and what are the key goals and key fabric features requirements.


    Upcoming December 11 Webcast: Flash Memory Enables 4K and Beyond Video Workflows

    December 7th, 2015

    by Marty Foltyn

    The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held each year in early January in Las Vegas, has moved a long way from the days when you had to search high and low on the show floor for storage-related exhibits. Step on the floor in 2016, and you may never get past the automobile displays which have the capability to track and store your every activity. And even if you do, the plethora of accessible tech, video imaging, and smart home apps will make your head spin!

    Solid State Storage is an important contributor to the internet of things featured at CES, and understanding it is key to making informed choices. Get ready for CES 2016 by first attending a SNIA Solid State Storage webcast on Friday, December 11 at 11:00 am Pacific where Tom Coughlin, CEO of analyst firm Coughlin Associates, presents Flash Memory Enables 4K and Beyond Video Workflows.

    As the price and availability of flash memory grows flash memory will enable future generations of media that is even more immersive than today as video moves to 8K and virtual reality begins to play an increasing role in entertainment. Tom will discuss how, as the resolution and frame rate for video increase, flash memory is staring to play a significant role for content capture, post production and content delivery. His presentation will include material from the 2015 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Report from Coughlin Associates (and the associated 2015 digital media professional survey) on the growing use of flash memory in all aspects of professional media and entertainment and put flash use in context with other storage technologies in this industry.

    The webcast is an important lead in to the CES partner program Storage Visions Conference January 3-4 in Las Vegas, where SNIA will exhibit  solid state and persistent memory and have a pre-conference education day.  Register for this informative SNIA Brighttalk webcast , held on December 11, 2015 at 11:00 apm Pacific/2:00 pm Eastern at https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/663/180197


    New SNIA SSSI Webcast May 28 on Persistent Memory Advances

    May 22nd, 2015

    Join the NVDIMM Special Interest Group for an informative SNIA Brighttalk webcast on Persistent Memory Advances:  Solutions with Endurance, Performance & Non-Volatility on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 12:00 noon Eastern/9:00 am Pacific.  Register at http://www.snia.org/news_events/multimedia#webcasts

    Mario Martinez of Netlist, a SNIA SSSI NVDIMM SIG member, will discuss how persistent memory solutions deliver the endurance and performance of DRAM coupled with the non-volatility of Flash. This webinar will also update you on the latest solutions for enterprise server and storage designs, and provide insights into future persistent memory advances. A specific focus will be NVDIMM solutions, with examples from the member companies of the SNIA NVDIMM Special Interest Group.


    Solid State Summit Webinar Presentations Now Available for Viewing

    April 30th, 2015

    The April 21/22, 2015 Solid State Storage Summit, presented by SNIA and the Evaluator Group on the SNIA Brighttalk Channel, was a great success.  Attendees raved about the high quality content and knowledgable speakers.

    Did you miss it?

    No worries!  Now you can listen to  SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative experts and analysts from the Evaluator Group on the latest updates on Solid State Technology.  Click on the title of each presentation to listen to this great technical information.

    Day 1Solid State Systems – 5 different webcasts from Intel, Load Dynamix, Evaluator Group, EMC, and HP

    Day 2 – Solid State Components – 5 different webcasts from the San Diego Supercomputer Center, NetApp, Micron, Toshiba, and SMART Modular


    MRAM Topic of Open SSSI TechDev Committee Call Monday February 2 at 2:00 pm PT

    January 30th, 2015

    As part of their educational offering, the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative TechDev committee will feature Barry Hoberman speaking on Spin Transfer and MRAM.

    This conference call and SNIA WebEx at 2:00 pm Pacific time February 2, 2015 is open to the public. Find the answers to your questions on Spin Transfer/MRAM, including:

    • What are the drivers pushing emergence / adoption of Spin Transfer / MRAM?
    • What are the compelling advantages of Spin Transfer / MRAM?
    • What are the key applications that will be able to take advantage of MRAM?
    • What has to happen for Spin Transfer to find traction and deployment?
    • When will Spin Transfer / MRAM market adoption take place?

    Dial-in to: snia.webex.com Meeting Number: 794 116 066 password: TechDev2015 Teleconference: 1-866-439-4480 Passcode: 57236696#

    Looking forward to seeing you!


    Volunteers Honored at SNIA Symposium

    January 23rd, 2015

    The SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI), its affiliated Technical Work Groups (TWGs), and its individual members were honored at this week’s SNIA Member Symposium in San Jose, California.

    winners2

    From left, Paul Wassenberg, Marvell (SNIA SSSI Chair);
    Paul Von Behren, Intel (SNIA NVM Programming TWG Co-Chair);
    Jim Ryan, Intel (SNIA SSSI Marketing Chair);
    and Arthur Sainio, SMART Modular (SNIA NVDIMM SIG Co-Chair)

    At Wednesday’s SNIA member recognition event,  five awards were bestowed based on votes by their colleagues in the Association:

    1.      MOST OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS OF A SNIA TECHNOLOGY COMMUNITY –  SSSI (for the second year in a row)

    2.      MOST SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTIONS BY A COMMITTEE – NVDIMM SIG (in their first year of existence)

    3.      MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT BY A TECHNICAL WORK GROUP – NVM Programming TWG (adding to all the other awards it has received in the past 2 years)

    4.      VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Jim Ryan (who in addition to managing the Storage Industry Summit for two years in a row, is also the SSSI Marketing co-chair)

    5.      INDUSTRY IMPACT AWARD – Paul von Behren, NVM Programming TWG chair (and tireless advocate of NVM technology)

    In addition, Phil Mills, SNIA SSSI Founding Chair, was inducted into the SNIA Hall of Fame.

    More details are available at www.snia.org/about/awards.

    Congratulations to these SNIA volunteers and groups, who are poised for a great 2015!


    Join the Solid State Storage Initiative August 4-7 at Flash Memory Summit 2014

    July 21st, 2014

    The SNIA and the Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI) invite SNIA members and non-members alike to attend Flash Memory Summit 2014, August 4-7, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

    SNIA at Flash Memory Summit offers an all star keynote lineup, including SNIA Member companies Dell, Diablo, Fusion-io, IBM, Intel, Marvell, Micron, NetApp, PMC-Sierra, Samsung, and SanDisk.  SSSI members will lead panels and sessions on SSD, NVDIMM, and NVM Programming.

    A SNIA Education Day on Monday, August 4 in Room 203/204 of the Santa Clara Convention Center will feature award-winning SNIA Tutorials on Flash and Storage where attendees can learn about secure storage, SSD workload testing, benefits of Flash storage to the enterprise, PCI Express, and Flash storage architectures from SNIA member experts.  This Education Day is complimentary to all FMS attendees.

    Following the Education Day, all are welcome to attend a Solid State Storage Reception Monday evening from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm in Room 203/204 featuring updates on the solid state disk market, an NVDIMM presentation, and an NVM Programming Model overview.  Visit displays that highlight SNIA Solid State Initiative programs, including Non Volatile Memory Programming, Performance Testing,  and Workload I/O Capture.  Learn how you can participate in the exciting 2014 programs of the SSSI.

    A Non-Volatile DIMMs:  When Flash Isn’t Fast Enough Hands-On Lab presented by the NVDIMM SIG and SIG member companies AgigaTech, Netlist, and SMART Modular will illustrate how a category of NVDIMMs function in server and storage systems and how they can be integrated into a standard server platform.

    And don’t forget to stop by SNIA SSSI Booth 808 in the Exhibit Hall to check out  five static and two live NVDIMM displays and new whitepapers, brochures, and news on SSDs.

    Register now at www.flashmemorysummit.com

    Use the code “SNIA” to sign up today and receive $100 off Full Conference, 3-Day Conference, and One-Day Technical Program registration


    What a Solid State We Store In

    June 30th, 2014

    Note:  This blog entry is authored by SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative Governing Board member Gilda Fosswho serves on the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative [SSSI] Governing Board as well as her role as Industry Evangelist in the CTO Office at NetApp, Inc

    Solid state drives use semiconductor chips, as opposed to magnetic media, to store data.  The chips that solid state drives use are non-volatile memory meaning that the data remains even when the system has no power.  I’ve written about solid state drive technology in the past and I will continue to, for it represents the first major advancement in primary storage in a very long time.  Serving on the Governing Board of the SNIA Solid State Storage Initiative, it allows me to help foster the growth and success of the market for solid state storage in both enterprise and client environments. Our goals are to be the recognized authority for storage made from solid state devices, to determine and document the characteristics of storage made from solid state devices, and to determine and document the impact of storage made from solid state devices on system architectures.

    So what can you expect if you were to ever upgrade to an SSD?  Well, for starters your computing experience will be transformed with screaming fast random access speeds, multi-tasking proficiency, as well as fantastic reliability and durability… and you can choose between an external SSD or even a hybrid drive so you’ve got some options.  A new SSD will make your system faster because the boot times will decrease, launching apps will be lightening fast, opening and saving docs will no longer drag, copying and duplicating file speeds will improve, and overall your system will have a new ‘pep in its step’.  Furthermore, to promote being green, SSDs consume far less power than traditional hard drives, which means they also preserve battery life and stay cooler.  Who doesn’t want and need that? They’re also very quiet, with none of the spinning and clanking you get with HDDs – for obvious reasons. SSDs are cooler and quieter, all the while being faster.

    Since modern SSDs are Flash-based, there is no real hard-defined difference between Flash and SSD.  Rather, as mentioned previously, Solid State Disk is essentially storage that doesn’t require moving parts and Flash is what allows that to exist.  SSDs use Flash instead of RAM these days, since it’s a type of memory that’s super fast and doesn’t require continuous power, making it non-volatile.  A match made in solid-state heaven.

    There are some fundamental aspects that folks expect from a robust flash-based storage solution.  First off, I/O performance and efficiency for many applications, including database acceleration, server and desktop virtualization, and cloud infrastructure.  You should also expect to speed up overall IT performance, boost responsiveness of performance-critical applications, and reduce power costs and over-provisioning.  Furthermore, you will obviously use more high-capacity, low-cost SATA drives while improving utilization of your data center space.  If you can achieve all your flash-based goals without changing your IT infrastructure management processes, then you’ve really got it good.

    Flash storage has customarily had substantial aging issues. In a nutshell, a user could only write to the memory a certain number of times before they would just lose that section of the drive coupled with the fact that performance would degrade over time, too.  However, a lot of these issues were resolved and companies started manufacturing SSDs out of Flash memory instead of out of RAM.

    I’ve stated in the past that many people in the industry believe that flash SSDs will eventually replace traditional hard drives.  By the time this happens other characteristics, such as slower write time and added cost, will likely have been eradicated or significantly diminished. Even today, an SSD can extend the life of a laptop battery, reduce the weight of the system, make it quieter, and increase read performance.  When properly and optimally engineered, SSDs are now at least as reliable as traditional spinning hard drives.  Relating to the faster speed, think of one starting up in seconds versus minutes. Even the slowest current SSD gives you much improved real-world performance than does the fastest conventional hard drive, perhaps even 100x as fast.  This allows for better user productivity, allowing for more work to get done in a fraction of the time.  Furthermore, using flash in enterprise storage servers means you can support more users, do more work, and use less power so it’s no wonder that it’s become an important technology for business transactions.   It’s a solid win-win-win.

    SSSI’s 2014 Mission

    This SNIA initiative was formed in September 2008 and its mission is to foster the growth and success of the market for solid state storage in both enterprise and client environments. Our goals are to be the recognized authority for storage made from solid state devices, to determine and document the characteristics of storage made from solid state devices, and to determine and document the impact of storage made from solid state devices on system architectures.  Additionally, the SSSI collects solid state technical requirements of storage system vendors and communicate to SSD manufacturers for common features, behavior, and robustness.  The initiative collaborates with academia and the research labs of member companies to understand how advances in solid state memory will impact storage made from solid state memory as well as to educate the vendor and user communities about storage made from solid state devices.

    The SNIA SSSI also coordinates education activities with the Education Committee, performs benchmark testing to highlight the performance advantages of solid state storage, create peer reviewed vendor neutral SNIA Tutorials, and create vendor-neutral demonstrations.  The SSI also leverages SNIA and partner conferences, collaborate with industry analysts, perform market outreach that highlights the virtues of storage made from solid state devices.  The initiative determines what technical work should be performed within SNIA technical working groups to further the acceptance of storage made from solid state devices.  Furthermore and very importantly, the SSSI determines the standards that will be necessary to support the industry usage of SSDs by performing interoperability plug-fests as necessary in support of standards development.

    Collaboration between other SNIA organizations is also key.  The SSSI works with the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) to understand how SMI-S can be used to manage storage made from solid state devices.  We also work with the Green Storage Initiative (GSI) to understand how storage made from solid state devices will impact energy use in computer systems.  The work that the SSI does with the Technical Council helps create the desired technical working groups and provides external advocacy and support of these technical working groups.

    Finally, the SSSI collaborates with other industry associations via SNIA’s Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) on SSD-related technical work in which they are involved as well as coordinates with SNIA Regional Affiliates to ensure that the impact of the SSS Initiative is felt worldwide.  For more information, please visit http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi


    Memory Channel Storage Demystified at Next PCIe SSD Committee Meeting on March 10

    February 21st, 2014

    Join SSSI members for an “open” call on March 10, 2014 at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.  SSSI member Jerome McFarland, Principal Product Marketer at Diablo Technologies, will talk about how memory channel storage technology works, how it’s deployed, and its advantages for applications.

    Dial in at 1-866-439-4480 passcode 57236696.  A WebEx will be available at http://snia.webex.com, meeting number 792 152 928, password sssipcie.

    The SSSI PCIe SSD Committee is a SSSI member committee that provides guidance to the marketplace on SSDs.  This can take the form of educational materials, best practices documents, and SNIA standards.

    The “open” calls of the SSSI PCIe SSD Committee are designed to foster a broad understanding of technologies.  All SNIA and SSSI members, and those who are simply interested in technology advances, are welcome to attend.  Spread the word!