Most people I know who talk tech associate flash memory with mobile phones and other small handheld gadgets, but the technology now is emerging as an option for reducing the power requirements in massive server farms, especially those that are frequently called upon to serve up data quickly and often. (Think Google or Yahoo or Amazon. Or maybe a corporate data mining application.)
Hans Wildenberg, executive vice president of the mass storage division for Spansion, says EcoRAM is distinct from either NAND flash (which he says supports random read speeds that are too slow for server farm applications) or NOR flash (which offers slower write performance and offers lower densities than what is required by a massive data center).
Spansion is pitching EcoRAM as an amalgamation of the two technologies that is as a viable alternative to DRAM. Yes, DRAM is quick, but it eats up a lot of electricity, according to Wildenberg. The other missing link to make this work is technology from Virident Systems called GreenGateway, which bridges existing server subsystems with the EcoRAM technology. According to Wildenberg and Kumar Ganapathy, cofounder of Virident, the thing that makes the EcoRAM GreenGateway combination truly unique is the fact that it can be used with existing server designs.
Here are the main EcoRAM benefits that Spansion is pitching: - One-eighth the energy consumption of DRAM - 10 times the reliability of DRAM - Read performance that meets rapid access requirements - Appropriate densities for a data center and write performance that is 2 to 10 times faster than traditional NOR flash memory
EcoRAM will initially be available in densities of 128 gigabytes to 512 gigabytes. By the middle of next year, however, Wildenberg says the company will be gearing up to supply 1 terabyte components. The companies expect services that use the technology to emerge late this year. The first platform will be Linux-based.