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Diablo DMX software adds features to Memory1 memory channel storage

Diablo Memory Expansion software adds predictive cache, prefetching and tiering to 128 GB Memory1 flash DIMMs. This gives 2 TB of persistent memory in a two-socket server.

Diablo Technologies Inc. has released an upgrade to its Diablo Memory Expansion software to enhance data management of its 128 GB all-flash system memory channel storage module.

Tuesday's news announcement comes two weeks after Ottawa-based Diablo ramped up commercial production of Memory1 flash DIMMs and Chinese server maker Inspur Group launched the first server line based on Memory1 memory channel storage. Super Micro Computer also is validating Memory1 for use with x86 white box servers.

Also, on Tuesday, Diablo closed out a funding round that netted it $37 million in series C financing.

DMX, Memory1 combine for 2 TB of persistent server-side storage

Diablo bills Memory1 as a high-capacity and cost-effective flash adjunct to dynamic RAM. Diablo Memory1 integrates NAND flash and the DDR4 memory specification in a dual inline memory module (DIMM) card. Sixteen 128 GB Memory1 DIMMs can be used to build up to 2 TB of persistent memory in a single two-socket server. Memory1 flash DIMMs share a server's memory channel with standard DRAM DIMMs.

Memory1 gives us a tier between DRAM and storage. The flash is byte-addressable. We don't go through a storage stack.
Kevin Wagnervice president of marketing, Diablo Technologies

Diablo Memory Expansion (DMX) predictive software adds cache, data prefetching and tiering capabilities. DMX data management tracks application page sequences to ensure the correct pages are placed in DRAM. DMX media management handles read and write traffic, and it moves data asynchronously between DRAM and flash.

DMX intelligence manages how an application accesses Diablo Memory1 memory modules. The DMX driver attaches to the memory manager inside the operating system kernel. No changes need to be made to applications, the OS or to servers.

Diablo targets Memory1 at hyperscale and enterprises that use in-memory computing for big data processing, cloud and database services. Diablo said the combination of Memory1 and DMX software turns a two-socket server into 2 TB of persistent memory. By juicing the memory density in each server using Diablo's memory channel storage, data centers should be able to consolidate server farms supporting memory-intensive applications. 

"Memory1 gives us a tier between DRAM and storage. The flash is byte-addressable. We sit in the application ... access layer. We don't go through a storage stack," said Kevin Wagner, Diablo Technologies' vice president of marketing.

Diablo DMX intelligence, QoS based on user-defined priority settings

DMX software intelligence will either tier data in server memory or allow the memory manager to default to storage. Data identified as high priority is cached in hot DRAM. Related data elements are accessed sequentially to enhance memory fencing

"We see all the memory and page faults as they occur," Wagner said. "DRAM acts as cache for Memory1, and we tier all the data. When a memory request comes in or a write happens, DMX intercepts it and decides whether to put it in DRAM, Memory1 flash or storage."

Caching quality of service (QoS) is based on user-assigned priority levels for data sets. Diablo QoS places applications with associated data requirements in DRAM for guaranteed response time. A learning engine profiles application behavior over time to better predict page prefetching in DRAM. Similarly, Diablo uses the concept of clustered pages to place grouped data in DRAM that is commonly associated with a particular application, a method aimed at minimizing cache misses.

If a memory event can't be predicted, DMX reads application data from flash and places it in DRAM for processing, grouping associated page requests to amortize any performance penalty.

DMX media management preserves flash

The DMX media management layer ensures flash reads and writes occur sequentially. It features a tunable cache ratio and device striping. To minimize read and write operations in flash, DMX keeps dirty writes in DRAM until writes are complete. Clean pages are dropped and evictions get written sequentially.

"The way we handle dirty pages helps us preserve the flash. We don't write to flash until we absolutely have to," Wagner said.

Ben Woo, managing director of San Francisco-based IT analyst firm Neuralytix Inc., said the DMX upgrade puts Diablo in a stronger position to sell to enterprises in financial services, high-performance computing and other sectors that rely on in-memory databases and can use the boost from memory channel storage.

"DMX is a natural and necessary progression for Diablo's Memory1 system. I would love to see more OEMs use the technology. It optimizes utilization of the CPU and memory bus, and will give a dramatic boost to performance at a significantly lower cost than DRAM," Woo said.

Russ Fellows, a senior partner and analyst at Evaluator Group Inc., based in Boulder, Colo., said DMX gives data management features that would otherwise have to be delivered with specialized script.

"The fact they have the physical Memory1 modules is interesting, but the DMX software is what makes it useable. It removes a heavy burden on BIOS and OS system designers. They get caching, fencing, QoS and tiering, without having to write code for it," Fellows said.

Wagner said Diablo plans to make 256 GB Memory1 memory channel storage DIMMs generally available in 2017. Validation tests are under way with server vendors on a new controller ASIC for Diablo memory and storage modules.

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