NVDIMM Market Buoyed By Evolving Data Center Demands

NVDIMM is set to gain ground as support for the memory expands.


The NVDIMM market
A recent report published by Transparency Market Research (TMR) confirms that the global Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM) market is being propelled by an increased demand for advanced data center infrastructure. Indeed, NVDIMMs offer fault-tolerant data integrity, while simultaneously optimizing the performance of storage and cache, as well as indexing, message queuing, logging, batch processing, on-line transactions and RAID applications.

According to TMR, the high performance of the above-mentioned devices is crucial to hyper-scale computing environments that are focused on cloud computing, big data analytics and high-performance database applications. This is precisely why NVDIMMs are primarily targeted at huge in-memory computing tasks such as ultra-speed in-memory transactional database systems, including those used in search engines and hyper-scale computing applications.

A closer look at NVDIMM
There are currently three types of JEDEC-compliant NVDIMM implementations: NVDIMM-N, NVDIMM-P and NVDIMM-F.

NVDIMM-N can perhaps best be described as battery-backed DRAM. Essentially, an NVDIMM-N operates just like a standard DRAM DIMM when the CPU is accessing it. However, in the case of a power failure, data is immediately moved from the DRAM to backup NAND on the DIMM itself. This ensures the data in memory is never lost. From our perspective, NVDIMM-N is a critical stepping stone that will help ensure the success of future SCM and persistent memories on the memory channel.

NVDIMM-P allows the host to access both the DRAM and a secondary SCM on the DIMM to enable systems with high capacity and persistent main memory (further reducing the memory-storage performance and capacity gap), while NVDIMM-F pairs storage DIMMs with traditional DRAM DIMMs.

Windows 10 Pro for Workstations and NPM
The NVDIMM-N market recently received a significant boost from Microsoft, with Redmond confirming that Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will support non-volatile memory (NVDIMM-N) hardware, along with ReFS (Resilient File System and faster file sharing). It should be noted that Microsoft’s Windows Server 2016 also features support for NVDIMM-N, as does SQL Server 2016. In addition, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has announced an update to its non-volatile memory programming model (NPM), which was specifically developed to change how developers think about and interact with main memory.

According to Electronic Design, NPM currently supports multiple NVM types, including NVDIMM-F, NVDIMM-N and NVDIMM-P. The non-volatile memory programming model offers two primary approaches for developers: a block mode used with NVMe and block devices (SAS and SATA drives), as well as a memory mapped paradigm. The former allows the block mode driver to act as a back end for the typical file systems provided by the kernel, with applications using the native file system APIs or NVM block driver (accessing blocks directly). The latter typically translates to memory mapped files that have traditionally been backed by disk storage, with faster NVDIMMs making a range of applications far more practical.

A waning Moore’s Law
The shift from the traditional enterprise data center to the cloud is driving an insatiable demand for increased bandwidth and lower latencies. This has prompted the semiconductor industry to begin the process of redefining conventional memory, storage, network and computing architectures. Concurrently, the industry continues to grapple with a waning Moore’s Law. As traditional DRAM scaling slows, there is a collective interest in emerging memories such as NVDIMM which are capable of extending Moore’s Law within the confines of a traditional von Neumann paradigm.