Skip to main content

Princeton: Replacing RAM with Flash Can Save Massive Power

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.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

  • kcorp2003
    performance for flash memory is slow when compare to RAM memory.
    Reply
  • Pyree
    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.
    Reply
  • serendipiti
    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...
    Reply
  • chronium
    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.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    and what would that do the limited write-cycles on a SSD?
    Reply
  • lahawzel
    RAM is to Flash Memory as Flash Memory is to Floppy Disks.
    Reply
  • oneblackened
    10423790 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • hector2
    I bet turning off the computer saves even more power
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    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.
    Reply
  • werfu
    Why not simply have a swap partition onto a SSD?
    Reply