Diablo Technologies Launches Memory1

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 5, 2015

Diablo Technologies announced Memory1, an all-flash server system memory technology that the company claims will rewrite the rules of datacenter performance and economics. Diablo’s design replaces expensive conventional DRAM with low cost, high capacity flash, while delivering the performance an enterprise demands. Memory1 is deployed into standard DDR4 DIMM slots and is compatible with standard motherboards, servers, operating systems and applications.

According to Diablo, Memory1 can support up to four times the memory capacity of the largest existing DRAM modules, delivering greater capability on fewer servers and lowering datacenter costs by up to 70 percent. The same system memory slots that now hold 128 to 384 gigabytes of DRAM memory can house up to four terabytes of Memory1, allowing them to power data-intensive applications that were previously beyond reach.

Memory1 is designed for environments that require large memory footprints per server for workloads, such as big data analytics and complex Web applications. The company noted that the average Memory1 use case enables a four-to-one server reduction, and one customer use case requires 90 percent fewer servers. Accordingly, Diablo will initially focus on delivering Memory1 to cloud and hyperscale datacenters, which stand to see significant economic benefits because of their scale.

Memory1 is shipping now to select customers and will be broadly available this fall. Diablo will also be showcasing Memory1 at the upcoming Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California,

The pitch

Diablo Technologies’ Memory1 replaces conventional DRAM server memory with high density, cost-effective flash technologies.

Final analysis

Though Diablo Technologies has been around for a while (it was founded in Ottawa, Ontario in 2003), some context might be helpful for understanding the timing and market opportunity of its Memory1 announcement.

As noted on the company website, Diablo began as a developer of high performance storage solutions for global Fortune 2000 companies. The company focused on leveraging the potential of flash technologies to address storage-related processing and throughput challenges. Those issues have become increasingly problematic with the rise of demanding virtualization and analytics applications and use cases.

Diablo’s Memory Channel Storage (MCS) solutions represented a significant step forward for the company and its ambitions. Basically, MCS consists of flash memory modules that plug directly into the memory bus, resulting in highly consistent and scalable ultra-low latency storage.

Why is that a big deal? First and foremost, Diablo and others note that flash delivers 10X the density of DRAM while costing about 1/10th as much and using just 1/3 the amount of power. Secondly, the arrival of powerful analytics technologies, particularly in-memory offerings like SAP HANA, Redis and Apache SPARK, have helped popularize solutions maximizing memory performance.

The challenge has been in finding a methodology that supports true memory performance at more compelling price points than DRAM. That is a key issue, since building multi-terabyte in-memory systems based entirely on DRAM would be prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of business organizations.

In contrast, expanding system memory with flash allows the development of highly cost-effective systems that support large in-memory workloads with no changes to the system, motherboard, OS or application. The potential benefits of using flash to achieve this have been around for some time. In fact, my colleague Jim Handy of Objective Analysis has written regularly on the subject since 2010.

In a literal sense, Diablo’s Memory1 qualifies as a next logical step forward to replace traditional DRAM in enterprise servers. Is this truly achievable? Interestingly, just two weeks ago, MIT researchers demonstrated an experimental system that proved the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of using flash to perform server memory functions in comparison to DRAM. Now, Diablo is delivering a commercial solution that offers that same essential value proposition.

Why is this important? Extrapolate the value of Memory1’s price/performance benefits if Diablo’s solutions were deployed in highly virtualized hyperscale and cloud data centers running tens of thousands of servers. In addition, Memory1 should help cloud service providers (CSPs) develop and deliver cost-effective new and next generation solutions, particularly personalized services that require high performance analytics, such as voice recognition, paid search and financial analysis.

Overall, we consider Diablo’s Memory1 a significant step forward for the company and its customers and strategic partners. Memory1 certainly builds on innovations that Diablo achieved with its Memory Channel Storage. But it also measurably extends the benefits that flash-based memory solutions offer in hyperscale and cloud infrastructures. In a world that seems intent on moving ever further and deeper into cloud computing, Diablo Technologies’ new Memory1 solutions should help ease the way forward.

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