March 30th, 2016 by Adam Armstrong
HPE Unveils A New Tier Between Memory & Storage
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced what they are calling the first non-volatile DIMMs (NVDIMMs). HPE is calling this new product category Persistent Memory. They went on to state that their Persistent Memory gives the performance of memory with the persistence of storage and could potentially open up several new opportunities.
NVRAM is not a new concept; we’ve actually recently reviewed PMC’s NV1604 Flashtec NVRAM Drive. What HPE is doing is combing the performance of memory and the persistence of NAND on the same DIMM form factor. The first product has 8GB of DRAM backed by 8GB of flash. The goal is to make a new tier that has the performance of DRAM but won’t lose all the data is there is a failure. It also helps to bridge the gap in pricing between DRAM and NAND. DRAM is a super high performer but its cost gets prohibitive after a certain point. There has been a drop in the price of DRAM over the years but not as sharp as the price drop in flash.
While this all sounds good in theory, customers are more interested in how it will work out in actual production. HPE has run some internal testing and have come up with some impressive results. In fact, in database and analytics HPE claims to have seen 2x to 4x performance increases. The testing they conducted consisted of a comparison of Microsoft SQL Server transaction log performance on a pair of 400GB SSDs versus their new Persistent Memory 8GB NVDIMM (HPE used their ProLiant DL360 Gen9 server). The SSDs gave a performance of 970,000 TPM with a latency of 372us. When moving the transactions log over to the NVDIMMs performance jumped to 1.08 million TPM and latency dropped more than half to 181us.
HPE made their point about performance increases with the above internal test but they took it a few steps further by comparing their new NVDIMMs to SAS SSDs and PCIe workload accelerators and looked at IOPS, bandwidth, and latency. This time they didn’t provide raw number but instead reported that the NVDIMMs had 34x more IOPS, 16x better bandwidth, and 81x lower latency than the SAS SSDs and 24x more IOPS, 6x better bandwidth, and 73x lower latency than the PCIe workload accelerators.
HPE’s Persistent Memory sets out to remove the storage bottleneck but can in turn create a software bottleneck. To help combat this HPE is creating a ecosystem of software provider partners including Microsoft, Linux, Red Hat, and Hortonworks. This ecosystem will help Persistent Memory reach its full potential on HPE servers.
Availability and pricing
HPE plans on releasing its Persistent Memory NVDIMMs in its ProLiant Gen9 Servers as well as a standalone product and it currently has a MSRP of $899.