What is Storage Class Memory (SCM)?

Storage Class Memory: A Breakthrough for Performance and Reliability

What is Storage Class Memory (SCM)?

Storage Class Memory (SCM) is a new tier of memory/storage that sits between DRAM (at the top) and NAND flash (at the bottom) as it pertains to performance, endurance and cost. 

Unlike DRAM, SCM is persistent in nature and retains data written to it across power cycles.

Compared to NAND flash, SCM is orders of magnitude faster for both read and write operations. Unlike NAND, SCM is significantly more resistant to data re-writes and has much higher endurance properties. It delivers these benefits over NAND flash at a much lower cost/GB as compared to DRAM. 

As a result, SCM bridges the performance and reliability gap that exists between DRAM and NAND in the memory hierarchy today.

SCM can be addressed either in byte granularity (like DRAM) or at the block level (like NAND flash). Initially, SCM use cases are expected to include high-performance storage cache or as a replacement flash for faster storage media where SCM can be accessed as a block device. OLTP, OLAP, and in-memory databases are key workloads that will also benefit from the increased low-latency, additional throughput, and CPU offload enabled by SCM technology. 

Eventually, next-gen applications and OS ecosystems are expected to take advantage of its byte addressability and start treating it as system/host memory. The key difference (vs DRAM) is persistent memory across power cycles. Combining memory-like performance and NAND flash-like persistent data state, SCM has the potential to bring the best of both worlds to next-gen applications and deliver completely new levels of application acceleration.

SCM Use Cases

SCM can have a positive effect on nearly any workloads running on a FlashArray//X. There are, however, workloads that benefit greatly from its added performance capability thanks to  read-intensive, latency-sensitive nature of such applications. The capability of performing at near-memory speeds, with the added benefits of ultra-high endurance and persistence through power outages is the perfect recipe for addressing latency-sensitive applications. Examples of these workloads include financial trading applications, analytics, applications leveraging direct-attached storage, databases, and more.

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