SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Startup Diablo Technologies emerged from stealth mode with a chip that enables up to 400 Gbytes of flash to ride a DDR3 memory bus. Its Memory Channel Storage aims to plug terabytes of memory into dual in-line memory module sockets running at 85 percent lower latencies than today's solid-state drives running on PCI Express.
MCS marks the next logical for the use of NAND flash. Not long ago, flash jumped from the hard drive's serial ATA and SAS interconnects to PCIe, thanks largely to innovations from startup Fusion-IO.
Diablo's MCS chip buffers fast memory transfers, directing data as needed to DRAM or higher capacity but lower speed flash. The chip is in a late stage of validation with three OEM partners. It initially will be available only on DIMMS made under an exclusive relationship with Smart Storage Systems, itself in the process of being acquired by flash chip maker SanDisk.
The startup's technology requires at least one DIMM slot in a system use traditional DRAMs. Nevertheless that opens up the door to terabyte-sized pools of system storage for typical servers and other infrastructure gear that sport multiple DIMM slots.
In real workloads for high frequency financial trading, the approach could cut transaction latencies that vary from 150 microseconds to 2 milliseconds down to a more deterministic 60 microseconds to 70 microseconds, Diablo claims. It also opens the door to larger in-memory databases, faster analytics, and other applications.
"If everything lines up right for them they could take as much as half the $30 billion market for system DRAM," Jim Handy, a principal at Objective Analysis told EE Times.
The challenge is "it's a change in how people think, so it's a matter of getting people warmed up to the idea of using flash this way -- it took people a while to get used to using SSDs," Handy said. "I think they have the technology itself worked out," he added.
MCS beats other interfaces in performance/dollar and latency.