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this may be a stupid question but...

have you thought of supporting a RAM disk emulation in your new "flash as RAM" solution?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - StorageSearch.com - February 27, 2017
The idea of RAMdisk software is as old as the hills - and as you know for a long time now there have been real hardware SSDs - so why was I interested in a new blog - RAM Disk technology: Performance Comparison by Alex Khorolets (whose linkedin profile I can't find yet) at StarWind Software?

It wasn't the benchmark itself - although it's nice to see that there's so much choice now.

The blog post had reminded me of something which I had forgotten to ask Diablo Technologies in my recent conversation with them about their Memory1. (Although we had plenty to talk about as you can see by scrolling down below this "stupid question" blog.)

My question - which is now an open question to any vendor of software or related modules which repurposes flash as RAM to provide a high capacity, transparent memory tier is this...

Do you have a supported RAM Disk emulation for it?

and

how do the benchmark numbers look? (compared to a similar quantity of flash - or maybe even the same physical devices) when they are configured as native flash SSDs?

Now - if you're not into the art of evaluating new technologies - you may be thinking - that's just a stupid thing to ask.

I mean - why would you want an SSD emulation of a flash drive running on a flash system which is emulating RAM?

There are a couple of reasons.
  • The results will reveal interesting performance anomalies (in the flash as DRAM emulation) and (if they exist) complex quality idiosyncrasies.

    That's because RAM disk software is mature and generally well behaved. But flash as a RAM software is relatively new. Running one as an emulation on the other means you can leverage well proven flash SSD benchmark tools to see if there are holes or spikes in the RAM emulation software.

    This isn't going to magic away the need for true RAM tier evaluation tools. Something I've touched on before in a news story is it realistic to talk about memory IOPS?

    But you will learn something useful from the gap between ideal behavior and what you measure.
  • Another reason is this... In the present state of the market the need for pure play vanilla SSD storage (whether it's dressed up as AFA (capacity or performance optimized), or hybrid appliance or SDS is healthy and users will still be buying such quaint old fashioned products for many years to come. But....

    In the long term future... in another 5 to 10 years - such "storage focused" implementations of memory systems will become a smaller part of the overall local storage market. ("Local" being on your premises and not in the cloud. In the cloud we assume they will still find value based uses for cheap old slow stuff in the same way as they currently do with hard drives.)

    Instead - I think that "storage" itself may become just a software selectable setting in resource boxes which are really just big memory systems. The forerunners of which I hinted at in my blog - after AFAs - what's the next box?

    When all storage is made from memory chips - then the decision - sell it as memory or sell it as storage - may become a business and branding decision rather than a true representation of the technology in the box.
That's why I think the "supported RAM disk" emulation question today is a probe into a future market.

And I use the term "supported" advisedly - because it's obvious that a vendor specific "SSD emulation" on "flash tiered as RAM" should include hardware supported datamovers and perform better than a bland software based solution.

Either way - the industry will learn a lot about the "goodness" of new memory tiering products by stressing them in ways which the original designers never intended.

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