Diablo picks up Supermicro OEM deal for DIMM flash

Diablo's Carbon2 upgrade of its DIMM flash board includes API set for mirroring DRAM as persistent flash storage; Supermicro signs on as OEM partner.

Diablo Technologies this week added Supermicro as an OEM partner for its recently patented flash Memory Channel Storage and refreshed the DIMM-based cards with a more robust chipset and better scalability.

Supermicro is the second OEM partner signed by Diablo and its distribution partner SanDisk Corp. for their ULLtraDIMM solid-state drive memory channel storage cards.

Supermicro will buy ULLtraDIMM flash storage boards from SanDisk and install them in its X9-based Green Computing portfolio, which includes X9 SuperServer and SuperStorage products. Diablo and Supermicro also said they will align their technology roadmaps to explore other applications for using server-side flash memory as a high-performance storage tier.

IBM became the first Diablo-SanDisk OEM partner in January, rebranding the products as eXFlash DIMM cards and selling them inside IBM X6, System x and PureSystems servers.

Diablo introduced ULLtraDIMM flash storage boards in 2013, in conjunction with Smart Storage Systems, which was subsequently acquired by SanDisk for $307 million. The devices plug directly into memory channel lanes via a dual in-line memory module, without requiring changes to the operating system, applications or servers.

Marc Staimer, president of Beaverton, Oregon-based consulting firm Dragon Slayer Consulting, said he expects more OEMs to sign on. He also anticipates DIMM flash technology playing a big-role in server-side flash.

"I'm a big fan of the DIMM technologies because it lets you take advantage of unused memory channels and keep your limited PCIe slots free," he said. "I think it's the biggest threat to the PCIe market and I imagine blade server manufacturers must be salivating over this, and probably VMware, too."

Carbon2 treats DRAM, flash as converged memory

Carbon2, the second generation of Diablo's Memory Channel Storage (MCS) platform, is a flash-in-motherboard installation that treats DRAM and flash as converged memory and closely integrates it with applications and processing power. Carbon2's API enables applications to use persistent DRAM to scale terabytes of flash storage.

The technology enables NAND flash to interface directly on the memory channel. The architecture uses a small amount of flash, which leverages main memory as a parallel bus and scales linearly with additional modules.

Carbon2 supports the fourth-generation double data rate (DDR4) interface. Carbon1, Diablo's first-gen product, was compatible with DDR3.

Diablo claims its API set, known as NanoCommit Technology, performs small writes to flash -- such as transaction logs or 64 KB CPU cache lines -- and supports hundreds of millions of transaction per second. It is designed to enable application groups to mirror DRAM as persistent storage.

"What we're doing is exposing the ability to use terabytes of flash while having DRAM-like performance and high levels of granularity to support general purpose use cases (that run) on the same hardware and software platform," said Jerome McFarland, a product manager for Diablo.

McFarland said a software development kit for the Carbon2 reference architecture would be available for sale to OEMs and SSD makers by July 2015. That SDM will include a DDR4-compatible chipset and device drivers for Microsoft Windows Server, VMware ESXi hypervisor and various flavors of Linux.

Next Steps

Western Digital/HGST updates FlashMax PCIe SSDs, cache software

Online marketer Pentius revs up IOPS with PernixData FVP

OCZ beefs up SQL Accelerator drives, adds remote flash cache

Dig deeper on Server-based SSD implementations

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