Fancy a wee quasi-DRAM? Supermicro bulks up server memory

Memory-intensive apps drive adoption of storage-class memory

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Data is getting closer to compute – Supermicro's X10DRU-i+ dual-socket server is available with 1TB or 2TB of application memory for analytics, database, and caching apps by being equipped with Diablo's Memory1 flash DIMM modules, and up to a 4x memory increase from DRAM-only servers.

The flash is treated as quasi-DRAM with the DMX software preemptively fetching data from the flash and shunting it to DRAM caching style. In effect the flash expands the memory capacity and makes the servers good for Big Data-style applications.

Diablo says the servers can provide up to 40TB of system memory in a single rack, with no changes to hardware or applications.

Memory1 is a DDR4 DIMM module with up to 128GB flash capacity and Diablo Memory Expansion software (DMX). DRAM DIMMs are installed in the system along with Memory1 modules, think of a typical 8:1 flash-DRAM ratio.

These X10DRU-i+ dual-socket servers have 24 DIMM slots, being called Fat Twin servers, and dual Xeon E5-2600 v4 processors. The flash is an onboard DRAM backing store, so to speak.

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Supermicro X10DRU-i+ dual-socket server

The DMX software provides memory virtualisation, dynamic data tiering and data prediction plus flash endurance enhancement and performance tuning. We understand we might see doubled-up Memory1 capacity of 256GB, meaning 4TB servers, in 2017.

Supermicro is also developing its portfolio of hot-swap NVMe flash drive server products. Stifel MD Aaron Rakers writes that Supermicro thinks hot-swap, dual-port NVMe flash drives can be six times faster than SAS SSDs, and had more than 70 NVMe products available at the end of September. He says it is working on next-gen M.2 NVMe products that could support up to 12TB of flash capacity.

The X10DRU-i+ server mentioned above could transition to having 10 front-end NVMe drive slots instead of the 10 SAS ones currently available. That 10 x 2.5-inch drive bay space could be altered to support 20 new format NVMe flash drives.

Rakers notes:

Brocade has previously stated that it believes that NVMe-over-Fabrics may be as disruptive to the storage industry over the next few years as all-flash storage was over the prior few years. Also, Mellanox recently stated that it believes that NVMe-over-Fabrics, which will enable customers to build high-performance block-based storage and is the first new major block-based storage protocol in 15 years, has the potential to replace Fibre Channel.

The net-net here is that memory is getting bulked out with slower/cheaper-than-DRAM storage-class memory, SAS 2.5-inch SSDs are giving way to NVMe-connected flash drives which can use an M.2 card form factor, and Fibre Channel/iSCSI-connected SANs will give way to much faster, RDMA-based, NVMe over Fabrics-connected shared storage. Data is getting much closer to compute both in physical terms and in access-latency terms. ®




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