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By | Chris Mellor 19th October 2011 17:27

New RAM shunts data into flash in power cuts

No batteries needed

Viking has built a hybrid, battery-free, non-volatile storage memory product, combining DRAM and NAND, which is faster than PCIe flash. Eat your heart out, Fusion-io.

Viking Technology is a division of Sanmina-SCI, and its DDR3 ArxCis-NV is a DIMM that comes in 2, 4 and 8GB capacity points and operates at DRAM speed. It integrates into industry-standard x86 motherboards and functions in the host environment as a JEDEC standard DDR3 registered DIMM. If there is a power failure, or a host driven command, the ArxCis-NV will save all data in the DRAM to SLC (single-level cell) flash; upon power being restored, the data is written back to the DRAM ready for the system to access immediately following boot-up, provided there's sufficient operating system-level support for such a restore.

It is battery-free, which makes it cleaner and greener. Jim Handy, an analyst for Objective Analysis, said: "Data centres have addressed certain needs in the past by using battery-backed DRAM, an approach that leaves most data centre managers feeling vulnerable. This ... new approach will not only allay these concerns, but should also open the door to new computing architectures based on the concept of nonvolatile DIMMs that operate at DRAM speeds."

Viking's release gives battery backup units a good kicking. Handy adds: "Batteries are constructed of heavy metals and must be recycled. They regularly need to go through the arduous steps of conditioning to remain fully functional and require replacement on an annual basis. Batteries that have not been maintained correctly are at risk of not being able to secure the data during a power outage."

We might envisage PCIe flash card suppliers, like Fusion-io and STEC, offering similar functionality by adding super-capacitor-powered DRAM contents backup to their PCIe flash cards.

The ArxCis-NV product is available now. No pricing information was released. Viking options include a variety of super-capacitor pack energy capacities, depending upon application demands. ®

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