Memory channel flash use cases explained

What are the use cases for memory channel flash storage, and are there use cases where it doesn't make sense?

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The cases where memory channel flash storage makes the most sense are those applications that are memory-constrained. If they're memory-constrained, they will have variable application IO performance. Memory constraints cause paging to disk. A small SDRAM or NVRAM capacity can result in even more paging. Alternatively, larger data sets will also create a lot of paging, leading to application thrashing. Paging or swapping occurs when the application tries to access pages not currently mapped to the physical memory, also known as a page fault. The OS controls and handles page faults for the application transparently by retrieving the data from the designated target storage across the latency path previously described. Application performance slows noticeably as paging increases.

Some of industries and applications that are known to have memory constraints include:

General purpose

Financial services

  • High frequency trading in stocks, bonds, options, and funds
  • Derivatives trading
  • Black Scholes modeling
  • BGM and LIBOR market modeling
  • Monte Carlo simulations

Oil and gas

  • Reservoir modeling
  • Seismic data interpretation
  • 3D image processing
  • Fluid and flow simulation


  • 3D modeling
  • 3D design such as CATIA, ENOVIA, 3dvia, SolidWorks and more


  • CT scanning -- preprocessing and reconstruction
  • MRI scanning
  • PET scanning
  • 3D ultrasound real-time x-ray

Media and entertainment

  • Animation rendering
  • CGI
  • Format conversion from HD to 4K, 8K, or 3D

Life sciences

  • Gene and protein annotation
    • Mapping SNPs to human genome modeling protein families
  • Mapping drug therapies to individual genes


  • Computational fluid dynamics

Climate science

  • Change modeling


  • In-memory databases
  • Data warehousing
  • Large Hadoop farms


  • Multi-sensor battlefield fusion
  • Nuclear weapons simulation testing
  • Flight simulation


  • Facial recognition
  • Encryption -- decryption

Quantum physics

  • High-speed particle collision analysis
  • Simulations
  • Modeling

Applications where paging is rarely – or never - an issue and storage performance is not a priority do not have as much need for memory channel flash storage use as the above listed might.

This was first published in June 2014

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