What Is Storage-Class Memory?

What Is Storage-Class Memory?

What Is Storage-Class Memory?

Enterprise storage administrators have long had to balance the need for better data access speed with budgetary constraints. Ultrafast data access exists in forms such as the latest double data rate (DDR) synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM). But, DDR SDRAM is also ultraexpensive.

Another storage option is quickly gaining popularity thanks to its high speed at significantly lower costs than DDR SDRAM. It’s called storage-class memory (SCM).

SCM: A Bridge Between DDR and Today’s Enterprise Flash Drives

Consider the spectrum of enterprise storage options and the price vs. access-speed ratios they provide. Tape is cheap but slow while DDR SDRAM is super-speedy but exceedingly pricey. SCM falls between the traditional NAND storage used in today’s enterprise flash drives and DRAM, as shown in the chart below. Not surprisingly, SCM shares some features with both DRAM and NAND flash storage. It delivers the type of speedy data access you get with memory, at prices more akin to traditional storage solutions.

SCM is also called persistent memory because it comes with its own built-in power source. That means data won’t be lost if the storage system crashes or loses power. This is a big advantage over DRAM, which is volatile, or temporary, and is lost when the power is off.

SCM treats non-volatile memory the way it would DRAM, which means it’s stored in server memory. Data accessed from memory is significantly faster than data accessed from attached or even built-in disk drives. In fact, SCM can read and write data up to 10 times faster than NAND flash drives and is approximately half the price of DDR SDRAM.

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The Advantages of SCM

With SCM technology, enterprises can take advantage of high-performance storage that delivers the capacity and capabilities modern workloads require. SCM is ideal for ultrafast server restarts after power outages or maintenance reboots. It also works well for mission-critical databases and applications that require high durability, low latency, and a high level of data consistency.

Other advantages include:

  • Lower application latency and better performance than traditional flash storage
  • Faster processing of workloads that are write-intensive, such as online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads
  • Increased throughput compared to flash storage
  • Lower cost than DRAM storage
  • Eliminates potential for data loss due to power failures or system crashes

Put the Technology to Good Use

While SCM is significantly less expensive than the fastest DRAM storage, it still costs more than other, slower options. SCM is ideal for computing environments that frequently need access to large, complex data sets. It’s also a smart choice for environments that are more sensitive to power outages or that would incur more than the usual damage or expense from unexpected downtime.

Some use cases include:

  • Analysis of cyber threats: Systems could more quickly parse large data sets to identify and mitigate anomalies.
  • Fraud detection: Fast, accurate data analytics could help financial institutions and insurance companies pinpoint fraudulent transactions.
  • Analysis of internet of things data: Large data sets could be processed in near real-time for faster insights.
  • Stock market trading: Data stored in SCM could be processed and trades executed in mere fractions of seconds.
  • Facial recognition and crime mitigation: Law enforcement agencies could use SCM to detect suspects and alert officers in near real-time.

How Pure Storage Can Help

Pure Storage® offers SCM storage solutions that can help your organization boost efficiency without breaking your budget. DirectMemory™ Cache software is integrated directly into the core operating system of FlashArray™. It uses SCM technology to deliver improved performance for databases, analytics, and reporting. It’s designed specifically for read-intensive, high-performance workloads and large data sets within the three to six TB range. Pure also offers DirectMemory Modules, which can be installed in FlashArray//X chassis storage with plug-and-play ease.

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