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.


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  • kcorp2003
    performance for flash memory is slow when compare to RAM memory.
  • 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.
  • 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...