Smart and Diablo launch Ulltra DIMM memory channel storage

Ulltra DIMM memory channel storage from Smart and Diablo puts flash on DDR3 cards to outperform PCIe flash

Smart Storage has teamed up with Diablo Technologies to launch flash storage that fits into DDR3 memory slots on a server motherboard. The Ulltra DIMM memory channel storage product claims numerous performance advantages over PCIe flash.

Ulltra DIMM marries Smart Storage’s flash management expertise with Diablo’s DDR3-flash protocol translation so that multi-level cell (MLC) flash storage can be placed on a DDR3 format memory card. The claimed benefits are latency figures less than half that of PCIe flash, as storage traffic does not have to contend with other devices via the motherboard I/O hub.

Memory channel storage adds another location to the choices of where to deploy flash storage in the datacentre. To date, the options have been to place flash storage in an array and share it between a number of servers, or to put flash in the server on PCIe cards. The latter approach places storage next to the server CPU and cuts access times. Memory channel storage offers the opportunity to reduce latency even further.

Smart Storage director of SSD technical marketing Esther Spanjer said Ulltra DIMM is for "high performance-apps that would like to use DRAM but can’t afford it". 

"Ulltra DIMM slots directly into DDR memory slots," she added. "The result is latency an order of magnitude better than anything else; less than five microseconds, compared with PCIe flash which is in the tens of microseconds.”

Ulltra DIMM combines Smart Storage’s Guardian technology – which brings flash management, reliability, endurance and enterprise features to MLC flash – with Diablo’s ability to translate between flash and the DDR3 memory protocol.

Ulltra DIMM capacities available are 200GB and 400GB per card. In servers with up to 48 memory slots, Ulltra DIMM could pack in flash storage capacity getting into the high teens of terabytes, although Spanjer said Ulltra DIMM cannot completely replace on-board memory. Nevertheless, such capacities are much more than can be accommodated by PCIe flash.

Ulltra DIMM does, however, suffer the shortcomings of PCIe flash in that it is isolated without any method of sharing or protecting data between separate instances of memory channel storage in different servers. Spanjer said redundancy would need to be built in at the level of the application.

Storage suppliers have been working on sharing data between instances of server cache, such as QLogic’s QLE10000 and Dell’s Project Hermes.


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