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AgigA Tech Introduces Non-Volatile DDR3 DIMMs

By - Source: AgigaTech | B 16 comments

What if you could keep Windows stored entirely in RAM?

Sure, you already can and we have had solutions such as Gigabyte's i-RAM, released in 2005, for some time. But these products required an uninterrupted power supply that caters to DRAM's volatile characteristics. However, there is a new product, a DDR3 DIMM offered by AgigA Tech that is created as a non-volatile DIMM (NVDIMM).

The product uses an integrated controller to transfer the contents in the DRAM to also integrated NAND Flash. The briefly required power supply is provided capacitors, which do not require a separate battery. To recharge the capacitors, only "a few seconds" of regular power supply to the DIMM are required. AgigA Tech says that the data retention time in the DIMM is a remarkable 10 years.

At this time, the DIMMs are available in ample numbers as well as 1 GB, 2GB and 4GB capacities. There was no information when these DIMMS will become generally available and how much they will cost. However, do not expect these chips to be affordable for your desktop system anytime soon; AgigaTech said it is targeting RAID storage, servers, data deduplication, workstations, embedded systems, communications/networking, as well as industrial/medical as initial application fields.

 

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  • 7 Hide
    Jim_L9 , August 31, 2012 8:02 PM
    Nice concept.
  • 2 Hide
    bctande1 , August 31, 2012 8:22 PM
    Very interesting concept! Makes conceptualizing the HDD-free future much easier. I would like it, however, if industry can release more 30nm-based RAM, like Samsung's offerings.

  • 0 Hide
    husker , August 31, 2012 8:23 PM
    Malware and virus creator's wet dream. No thanks.
  • 8 Hide
    dark_knight33 , August 31, 2012 9:17 PM
    A data security professional's nightmare, I love it.
  • 5 Hide
    mr_tuel , August 31, 2012 9:20 PM
    This probably has to most potential (to consumers and users) in laptops or tablets. This should help extend standby battery life since no power will be required to keep the memory contents and you don't have to write to the HDD. OTOH, SSDs makes hibernation fast, and this sounds like having SSDs built into the RAM modules.
  • 0 Hide
    freggo , August 31, 2012 9:21 PM
    I don't think it makes much of a difference to fudge with a Windows file on C: vs. the RAM location.
    If a hacker wants to get to it he will.

    Instead of more hacker proof it would be better to offer more incentives to Hackers to not even try!

  • 8 Hide
    wiinippongamer , August 31, 2012 9:35 PM
    Very interesting indeed, but buying a good SSD will probably remain much cheaper for quite a long time.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 31, 2012 11:27 PM
    dark_knight33A data security professional's nightmare, I love it.

    Would definitely be better if the Flash storage was encrypted but it's possible to recover data from the DRAM directly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_remanence#Data_in_RAM

    It would be wonderful if the Flash was encrypted AND the DRAM overwritten at power-off.
  • 1 Hide
    alxianthelast , September 1, 2012 1:29 AM
    DAMN.. ignoring, speed and portability (of the flash internals and a chip you can pop out and move to another system) it sucks that they aren't available on 8 gig sticks with an optional 16/32 gig flash pool to be able to store multiple states and a fail-safe backup state. Hopefully another company will on up them with these features.

    32 gigs on 4 chips that are pooled or separate.. but to pool them might be harder or require the modules to be connected to each other (while system power is off?) hmm... many possibilities.
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , September 1, 2012 7:14 AM
    imagine this.
    this ram is used in tandem with system ram.
    making it more like a very high speed ssd than ram.
  • 0 Hide
    alxianthelast , September 1, 2012 3:12 PM
    ^That's an interesting concept as well.. unless Mobo manufactures start making consumer class motherboards with extra slots for these types of modules (so you can keep your 16/32 gig main pool), it would be a very tiny SSD that eats very valuable memory module slots.

    --

    Something else occurs to me.. if you hibernate your computer and use this kind of ram (waking it which fills up the new NVDIMMs) couldn't you in effect clone a workstation? And yes it is what's mentioned above as a horror story against NVDIMMs, but as an IT professional I'd be happier doing POS and workstation staging/cloning as installation of NVDIMMs in a new machine as an FRU which you could produce in high quantity very quickly. If you can write and remove them while hot.. even better!

    But again.. would that require special DIMMs where you could install and remove the modules? Could imagine them being on the underside of the motherboard with an accessibility port like on laptops.
  • 2 Hide
    atikkur , September 1, 2012 4:04 PM
    booting in 0.5s.. damn it's too fast.. we cant hit the F8 key.
  • -1 Hide
    dissbelief , September 1, 2012 8:09 PM
    atikkurbooting in 0.5s.. damn it's too fast.. we cant hit the F8 key.

    If you are using this RAM, you shouldn't be using an OS that requires you to hit the F8 key before booting into the system.
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , September 2, 2012 6:31 AM
    how fast is the NAND. the data will have to be transfered to and from the NAND to actually be loaded into memory. (the type of data has a major impact on write speeds, in a wost case scenario, will the capacitors hold enough power to dump all of the RAM's contents to the NAND (if the RAM is 100% full)?

    Will it provide power loss protection, for example if the power were to fail, could a system be designed where if power is restored, the system will notice the data still in the RAM and pick up where it left off due to the power failure?

    if so then that would be worth upgrading to.


    A system that can handle power loss without having to go through a full reboot can be a very big evolutionary step forward for servers and other systems where uptime and not losing working data is extremely important.
  • 0 Hide
    army_ant7 , September 3, 2012 2:24 PM
    Razor512how fast is the NAND. the data will have to be transfered to and from the NAND to actually be loaded into memory. (the type of data has a major impact on write speeds, in a wost case scenario, will the capacitors hold enough power to dump all of the RAM's contents to the NAND (if the RAM is 100% full)?Will it provide power loss protection, for example if the power were to fail, could a system be designed where if power is restored, the system will notice the data still in the RAM and pick up where it left off due to the power failure?if so then that would be worth upgrading to.A system that can handle power loss without having to go through a full reboot can be a very big evolutionary step forward for servers and other systems where uptime and not losing working data is extremely important.

    +1
    The first question was on my mind as well, though you also do point out some other reasonable points. :-)
    I'm also thinking, does it only back-up to the NAND's when it somehow detects a power loss, because constantly mirroring the data between the RAM chips and NAND's seems impractical for some possible reasons to me.

    Why does it only store the data for 10 years, is that a common "flaw" with NAND's?

    How do you take advantage of its non-volatilty? I mean, Hibernate saves it to the Hibernate file location which is usually an HDD or SSD, and Sleep/Standby leaves the RAM and the system (partially) powered. I have doubts of the NAND's space showing up in Windows Explorer ((My) Computer), but if it did, I think you could relocate the Hibernate file there.

    An issue of portability presented by one of the commenters above was also interesting, removing the RAM and possibly interchanging them or their slots on the motherboard. I wonder how that goes...
  • 1 Hide
    hetneo , September 5, 2012 7:09 AM
    mr_tuelThis probably has to most potential (to consumers and users) in laptops or tablets. This should help extend standby battery life since no power will be required to keep the memory contents and you don't have to write to the HDD. OTOH, SSDs makes hibernation fast, and this sounds like having SSDs built into the RAM modules.

    Not at all, it is not intended for consumer electronic anyway, but for enterprise market, and has potential to save as much power as it is spent on one or two key strokes on keyboard. Think about it this way, this is not exact math but will give you idea of what kind of saves could be made. RAM works at certain frequency, let's say 1333MHz, the most common frequency among cheap economic laptops and netbooks. That means 1333 times per second RAM consumes X amount of electricity on refreshing, reading or writing. There is certain level of variation depending on how many 1s and 0s there is,more 1s more electricity is spent. But variation is so small compared to battery capacity that you can approximate it as round value of X. So when you do absolutely nothing on your laptop,your RAM consumes 1333X volts per second. Copying data from RAM in NAND will spend 2X volts. This is infinitely small amount compared to battery capacity.

    bctande1Very interesting concept! Makes conceptualizing the HDD-free future much easier. I would like it, however, if industry can release more 30nm-based RAM, like Samsung's offerings.

    That's utterly wrong because HDD-free future is impossible. There will always exist need for secondary storage and prices of RAM will never fall down to HDD or SSD level.

    wiinippongamerVery interesting indeed, but buying a good SSD will probably remain much cheaper for quite a long time.

    This is not competition for SSD. NAND flash of same capacity coupled with RAM module is not replacement of SSD. It's aim is to provide time required to bring system up in working order after power failure as close to 0s as possible while preserving integrity of data that was loaded in RAM. Think about hospital clerk filling out your chart when power goes out, that clerk will be able to continue working as soon as generators kick in.

    Razor512how fast is the NAND. the data will have to be transfered to and from the NAND to actually be loaded into memory. (the type of data has a major impact on write speeds, in a wost case scenario, will the capacitors hold enough power to dump all of the RAM's contents to the NAND (if the RAM is 100% full)?Will it provide power loss protection, for example if the power were to fail, could a system be designed where if power is restored, the system will notice the data still in the RAM and pick up where it left off due to the power failure?if so then that would be worth upgrading to.A system that can handle power loss without having to go through a full reboot can be a very big evolutionary step forward for servers and other systems where uptime and not losing working data is extremely important.

    Well duh. Here's one question that makes sense as much as your does. Do cars have enough wheels to be driven around, are those wheels round enough to roll on the ground? That is how and why they are designed, both wheels and these RAM modules.