Definition

storage class memory (SCM)

Contributor(s): Linda Rosencrance

Storage class memory (SCM) is a type of NAND flash that includes a power source to ensure that data won't be lost due to a system crash or power failure. Storage class memory treats non-volatile memory as DRAM and includes it in the memory space of the server. Access to data in that space is significantly quicker than access to data in local, PCI-connected solid state drives (SSDs), direct-attached hard drive disks (HDDs) or external storage arrays. SCM read/write technology is up to 10 times faster than NAND flash drives and is more durable.

Several types of SCM technologies are being developed that retain data and program code when power is lost. They can sometimes log speeds nearly as fast as DRAM and static random access memory (SRAM). This combination of persistence and speed enables companies to develop devices that can be used for both memory and storage.

SCM technology is enabling new, high-performance storage that addresses the evermore rigorous performance requirements of a number of new workloads that organizations need to support as part of digital transformation. SCM can be used in data centers to replace less expensive, but far slower traditional persistent storage components, such as SSDs and HDDs (hard disk drives).

Importance of SCM

Storage class memory is a form of storage that’s created out of flash-based NAND. It’s an intermediate step between high-performance DRAM and cost-effective HDDs. It can provide write performance that is significantly faster than HDD technology and read performance similar to DRAM.

SCM is considered an important building-block for high-speed data transfers, next-generation in-memory computing and scale-out clusters for computation and storage.

In some instances, SCM can be used to replace DRAM, albeit at slightly slower speeds. In this role, SCM can deliver a number of benefits, including very fast database-server restarts during maintenance, power emergencies and expected and unexpected reboots.

Various key operational applications and databases, especially those that require low-latency, high durability and strong data consistency, can benefit from storage class memory. In addition, SCM also has the potential to accelerate virtual machine storage and deliver higher performance to multi-node, distributed-cloud applications.

Advantages of SCM

The main advantages of storage class memory include: 

  • offers access latencies less than those of flash SSDs
  • increases throughput more than flash storage
  • is less expensive than DRAM
  • provides real-time access to data – enables DRAM-like access to large datasets through system memory capacity
  • retains stored data even after the power has been switched off

SCM use cases

Storage class memory is perfect for environments that are sensitive to downtime caused by power failures or system crashes as well as environments that require frequent access to large, complex data sets.

Enterprise use cases for SCM include

  • Fraud detection – enables financial institutions and insurance companies to more quickly perform data analytics on millions of records to detect fraudulent transactions.
  • Cyberthreat analysis – allows companies to detect and defend against cyberthreats quickly. 
  • Web-scale personalization – lets companies tailor online experiences by returning relevant content and advertisements to each user. This results in higher user click-through as well as more e-commerce revenue.
  • Financial trading – financial trading applications can use storage class memory to rapidly process and execute financial transactions, resulting in increased revenue for financial institutions and enabling them to be more competitive.
  • Internet of Things analytics – enables organizations to process large datasets in real time.
This was last updated in June 2019

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