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Princeton: Replacing RAM with Flash Can Save Massive Power

By - Source: Princeton University | B 116 comments

Fusion-io and Princeton University recently announced a partnership in which the company would enable customers to use Flash memory as an extension of DRAM.

Fusion-io and Princeton University recently announced a partnership in which the company would enable customers to use Flash memory as an extension of DRAM. The University now added some more information about the technology that adds to the product and developer offering provided by Fusion-io.

The development of the software that enables Flash to serve as DRAM replacement is promoted by the fact that Flash is considerably cheaper and that it uses up to 90 percent less power than its volatile counterpart, Princeton researchers said. The software they created, called SSDAlloc, turns Flash memory into an entity that can behave more like traditional and not like storage memory, which removes a bottleneck that is present when a program switches from DRAM to storage memory.

According to the researchers, SSDAlloc allows developers to bypass "this traditional system of searching for information in storage memory. […]Essentially, SSDAlloc moves the flash memory up in the internal hierarchy of computer data — instead of thinking of flash as a version of a storage drive, SSDAlloc tells the computer to consider it a larger, somewhat slower, version of RAM."

The benefit of this approach is that that the software does not require changes to the program. If you were using RAM and you want to use RAM, you can do that. If you want to use solid state you can use that," said Anirudh Badam, a graduate student who pas part of the developer team.

 

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  • 48 Hide
    hector2 , July 25, 2012 2:41 PM
    I bet turning off the computer saves even more power
  • 42 Hide
    kcorp2003 , July 25, 2012 2:24 PM
    performance for flash memory is slow when compare to RAM memory.
  • 32 Hide
    Pyree , July 25, 2012 2:29 PM
    And how much electricity would it save for an average personal computer? I doubt that is something an average PC user have to worry about.
Other Comments
  • 42 Hide
    kcorp2003 , July 25, 2012 2:24 PM
    performance for flash memory is slow when compare to RAM memory.
  • 32 Hide
    Pyree , July 25, 2012 2:29 PM
    And how much electricity would it save for an average personal computer? I doubt that is something an average PC user have to worry about.
  • 4 Hide
    serendipiti , July 25, 2012 2:30 PM
    Replacing RAM with some kind of non volatile memory makes sense for newer solid state storage based on newer technologies. If one of the NAND-flash replacements gets its way to consumers and keeps up to the promises these technologies do, it could get into RAM just to get to a simpler design.
    Nowadays the gains are very little: 90% on power usage of MEMORY (some watts, we are not talking about CPU or GPU). Wonder about the lifespan of the NAND cells in such scenario...
  • 3 Hide
    chronium , July 25, 2012 2:37 PM
    kcorp2003performance for flash memory is slow when compare to RAM memory.

    What this article forgets to remind people is that the flash side is only used on items that are not active in the ram so the performance difference does not become an issue.
  • 26 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , July 25, 2012 2:37 PM
    and what would that do the limited write-cycles on a SSD?
  • 30 Hide
    lahawzel , July 25, 2012 2:39 PM
    RAM is to Flash Memory as Flash Memory is to Floppy Disks.
  • 18 Hide
    oneblackened , July 25, 2012 2:40 PM
    Quote:
    and what would that do the limited write-cycles on a SSD?


    I was just about to ask that, that strikes me as a little worrisome considering flash has a very limited lifespan.
  • 48 Hide
    hector2 , July 25, 2012 2:41 PM
    I bet turning off the computer saves even more power
  • 5 Hide
    wiyosaya , July 25, 2012 2:42 PM
    chroniumWhat this article forgets to remind people is that the flash side is only used on items that are not active in the ram so the performance difference does not become an issue.

    What this does do is significantly increase the performance of the "disk interface" i.e., whatever version of SATA is currently being used to access flash storage. The result is that the "disk" subsystem's performance is boosted to nearly that of RAM.
  • 13 Hide
    werfu , July 25, 2012 2:44 PM
    Why not simply have a swap partition onto a SSD?
  • 6 Hide
    bucknutty , July 25, 2012 2:45 PM
    Sounds alot like readyboost, the caching system in win vista and win7.
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , July 25, 2012 3:05 PM
    Hmmm, shades of "Expanded" memory? Those running PCs in the late 80's early 90's will remember... LIM EMS...QEMM386...DesQview...
  • 8 Hide
    haplo602 , July 25, 2012 3:07 PM
    werfuWhy not simply have a swap partition onto a SSD?


    because they could not make headlines with that :-))
  • 3 Hide
    shin0bi272 , July 25, 2012 3:26 PM
    to counteract what the brilliant minds at princeton (the ones who gave us woodrow wilson ... who gave us the fed, the income tax, and prohibition) I say talk to IBM about their new PCM if youre wanting to include NV ram into your memory chips.
  • 1 Hide
    syrious1 , July 25, 2012 3:45 PM
    Ya, I'd like to see some benchmarks or some type of data on the speed gained by implementing this solution.
  • -1 Hide
    juanc , July 25, 2012 4:21 PM
    In other words. FLASH as Main Memory and RAM as Cache L4
  • -2 Hide
    blazorthon , July 25, 2012 4:27 PM
    LaHawzelRAM is to Flash Memory as Flash Memory is to Floppy Disks.


    Read performance per cell of NAND flash is fairly close to DRAM read performance. Write performance is exponentially lower than DRAM, but read performance (arguably more important) is close. Even then, the write perfomrance difference is nothing like the difference between NAND flash and floppy disks.
  • 26 Hide
    sylvez , July 25, 2012 4:32 PM
    Princeton: Replacing Computer with Typewriter Can Save Massive Power
  • -4 Hide
    blazorthon , July 25, 2012 4:37 PM
    juancIn other words. FLASH as Main Memory and RAM as Cache L4


    That might be an accurate way of viewing this. I'd think that a specialized flash memory would be preferable for this, such as some SLC that is specifically optimized for this, to alleviate the reliability concerns. It would be expensive per GB, but it could be cheaper than RAM per GB and if it's done right like the guys from the article have been talking about and working on, then maybe it could be a better solution than what we use now, at least in high-capacity servers such as powerful web servers and such.

    sylvezPrinceton: Replacing Computer with Typewriter Can Save Massive Power


    That's probably true too, but not even remotely comparable and thus relevant to what is being looked into here.
  • -1 Hide
    f-14 , July 25, 2012 4:48 PM
    is this what's employed in ASUS's V series, the maximus V gene, maximus V formula, & maximus V extreme with the special m/b header at the top left? that is what the sales people at microcenter are pedaling it as despite my thought it was a SSD from what ASUS reps made it sound like.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131830

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131854

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131858
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