Ron Wilson, Intel FPGA
June 20, 2017
For data-center architects it seems like a no-brainer. For a wide variety of applications, from the databases behind e-commerce platforms to the big-data tools in search engines to suddenly-fashionable data analytics to scientific codes, the dominant limitation on application response time is storage latency. But DRAM keeps getting denser, and solid-state drives (SSDs) cheaper. And a new class of memory devices—storage-class memory (SCM)—promises to put enormous amounts of memory on server cards. So why not just make all the data for these problem applications memory-resident, and eliminate disk and even SSD latency altogether?
The notion fits well into the shifting needs of data-center workloads. Many are becoming more sensitive to user-level response time, as users show increasing willingness to abandon a search, an online purchase, or a content view after only a few seconds’ delay. And the emergence of real-time constrains, as machine-learning or data-analytic functions are included in control systems—notably for autonomous vehicles—puts an extra urgency on latency questions.
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