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Persistent memory: Tier or storage? Find out at the Storage Developer Conference



By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

UPDATE: Watch Kimberly Keeton and Susan Spence deliver their presentation at the Storage Developer Conference. 

Is persistent memory better thought of as a new memory tier or as storage? According to Labs’ Distinguished Technologist Kimberly Keeton and Principal Research Engineer Susan Spence, the answer is yes.

They will present this answer in greater depth at the Storage Networking Industry Association’s Storage Developer Conference, which runs from September 11th through the 14th in Santa Clara.

Persistent memory: new tier or storage replacement? will take place on Wednesday, September 13 at 11:20 AM - 12:00 PM.

The traditional boundaries between memory and storage blur when applications start to rely on persistent memory to remember their data. Memory-Driven Computing brings together fast persistent memory, a fast memory fabric, task-specific processing, and a new software stack to address data growth and analysis challenges.

“There are many flavors of persistent memory, including NVDIMM technologies combining DRAM and flash, non-volatile memory technologies like resistive RAM (ReRAM) and phase-change memory (PCM),” said Keeton. ”If the underlying technology is sufficiently fast and byte access is supported, we can treat it like memory – memory that actually remembers the stored data when the power is removed.”

Those who cannot or do not want to change their code, particularly those with complex legacy apps, can treat it like storage, according to Spence.

Keeton and Spence will present a set of open-source tools created by Labs researchers, including write-ahead logging, managed data structures and a fabric-attached memory-aware key-value store.  

Write-ahead logging is an important technique used by databases to durably store the details of transactions so that they happen in an all-or-nothing fashion; the Managed Data Structures library provides developers with the ability to program with data structures directly in persistent memory, without requiring an underlying file system or database; and the key-value store provides a memory manager and radix tree index that are designed for fabric-attached persistent memory.

These tools, among others, are already available to developers as part of the Memory-Driven Computing Developer Toolkit.

“Researchers and customers who have had exposure to our approach to Memory-Driven Computing have been both skeptical and excited,” said Keeton. “They are excited about the implications, but need assistance in figuring out exactly how they can leverage persistent memory and fabric-attached memory in their workloads.”

Software developers, said Spence, “are concerned about how it will change their code, but are interested in how it will improve speed and differentiation.”

Researchers and customers can get their questions answered at Keeton and Spence’s SDC session.

They will also learn more about the resources for using persistent memory, available today as the open source Memory Driven Computing Developers Toolkit.

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs