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Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover 2015: Less code, fewer errors: programming with NVM


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By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

“Less code, fewer errors.” That’s the coda that Senior Researcher Susan Spence is using for her Transformation session at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover 2015 in London, “T6657 - Programming with non-volatile memory; Hewlett Packard Labs makes it easy.”

Spence works on data management for The Machine in Hewlett Packard’s Analytics Lab, developing software for programming with non-volatile memory (NVM).

“Traditionally, when programming in a traditional architecture, to store your  data, it will go through many software layers,” she said. “This requires a lot of data format conversions.”

When programming with non-volatile memory, however, you’re dealing with “a much more streamlined software stack, producing more straightforward programming.”

Susan Spence.jpgOnce data has been written to NVM, it persists; even when the power goes out.

The entire development life cycle can be much shorter when programming  with NVM, compared to programming in a traditional computing architecture.

There are a number of approaches to non-volatile memory. These include the Memristor (developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise), phase change memory, and spin transfer torque.

“When you look at your software stack, how much of it is about trying to get data to disk?” she said. “That’s what the issue has always been.” With NVM, that issue gets solved.

In the past, the software and computing world lacked the technological maturity to program this type of memory. But now the time has come. Spence and her colleagues are ensuring that, as the hardware develops, the software keeps up with it, and meshes with it, to make it valuable to users.

Programming with non-volatile memory is not marooned in theory. It has real world ramifications. Think about a bank. A virus or a power failure shuts down the bank’s computer system. Depending on how quickly that system can get what it is working on to a persistent state (how long it takes to “save” it), the bank is going to lose, say $1 billion. But if it can get its data to persistence in half the time, it only loses $500 million. If it gets there instantly – if it resides there – no money is lost. In other words, whether it’s your account or a global business account, the shorter the path to persistence, the less data lost. 

During her session, Spence will address not just the why of programming NVM, but the how. But to hear about that, you will have to attend. We wouldn’t want to spoil the ending.

Learn more at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover 2015. Susan Spence’s Theater session, “T6657 - Programming with non-volatile memory; Hewlett Packard Labs makes it easy,” will take place on Thursday, December 3, between 12:30 and 1:00 PM in Theater 12.

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs