Evolving data center demands spur NVDIMM market

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017.

Rambus’ Aharon Etengoff recently penned an article for Semiconductor Engineering that explores how evolving data center demands are spurring the NVDIMM market. Indeed, a Transparency Market Research (TMR) report published in August confirms that the global Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM) market is being propelled by an increased demand for advanced data center infrastructure.

NVDIMMs, writes Etengoff, offer fault-tolerant data integrity, while simultaneously optimizing the performance of storage and cache, as well as indexing, message queuing, logging, batch processing, on-line transactions and RAID applications.

“According to TMR, the high performance of the above-mentioned devices is crucial to hyper-scale computing environments that are focused on cloud computing, big data analytics and high-performance database applications,” he explains.

NVDIMM memory hierarchy

“This is precisely why NVDIMMs are primarily targeted at huge in-memory computing tasks such as ultra-speed in-memory transactional database systems, including those used in search engines and hyper-scale computing applications.”

As Etengoff notes, there are currently three types of JEDEC-compliant NVDIMM implementations: NVDIMM-N, NVDIMM-P and NVDIMM-F. NVDIMM-N, says Etengoff, can perhaps best be described as battery-backed DRAM.

“Essentially, an NVDIMM-N operates just like a standard DRAM DIMM when the CPU is accessing it. However, in the case of a power failure, data is immediately moved from the DRAM to backup NAND on the DIMM itself,” he elaborates. “This ensures the data in memory is never lost. From Rambus’ perspective, NVDIMM-N is a critical stepping stone that will help ensure the success of future SCM and persistent memories on the memory channel.”

Meanwhile, NVDIMM-P allows the host to access both the DRAM and a secondary SCM on the DIMM to enable systems with high-capacity and persistent main memory (further reducing the memory-storage performance and capacity gap), with NVDIMM-F pairing storage DIMMs with traditional DRAM DIMMs.

As Etengoff points out, the NVDIMM-N market recently received a significant boost from Microsoft, with Redmond confirming that Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will support non-volatile memory (NVDIMM-N) hardware, along with ReFS (Resilient File System and faster file sharing). Similarly, Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 also features support for NVDIMM-N, as does SQL Server 2016. In addition, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has announced an update to its non-volatile memory programming model (NPM), which was specifically developed to change how developers think about and interact with main memory.

In conclusion, says Etengoff, the shift from the traditional enterprise data center to the cloud is driving an insatiable demand for increased bandwidth and lower latencies. This has prompted the semiconductor industry to begin the process of redefining conventional memory, storage, network and computing architectures.

“Concurrently, the industry continues to grapple with a waning Moore’s Law. As traditional DRAM scaling slows, there is a collective interest in emerging memories such as NVDIMM which are capable of extending Moore’s Law within the confines of a traditional von Neumann paradigm,” he adds.