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Microsoft uses flash to boost RAM HDD communications

Posted at 18 February 2011 13:00 CET by wconeybeer

The terms “FlashStore”, “ChunkyStash”, and “SkimpyStash” may not mean much to you right now, but if Microsoft has their way, these recently-developed software utilities will improve the efficiency of tomorrow’s data storage systems.

“Flash is great technology, but it requires intelligent software to make the best use of it,” says research scientist Sudipta Sengupta, who is a co-developer of Microsoft’s FlashStore research project. The design utilizes the speed of flash memory as a bridge between HDD and RAM to speed up communications between the two. The result is a data storage system that they claim is 60 times faster than the Berkeley DB system developed by Oracle.

“FlashStore is designed to eliminate random writes,” a paper by Microsoft explains. “It organizes data in a log structure on flash so that new data sent to flash does not lead to random writes and, hence, is not subject to garbage collection by the device.”

The process is even more efficient with ChunkyStash, an application that takes advantage of the flash bridge to prevent unnecessary data duplication, and companion SkimpyStash, a utility to further minimize the burden of the system’s RAM.

Flash storage alone is impractical to utilize for large-scale data storage operations because of the high price. The FlashStore system is a sort of compromise to improve performance significantly without breaking the bank.

While consumers may not be using FlashStore at home anytime soon, they may still benefit from the innovation if it is incorporated into Microsoft’s Xbox Live systems as the company has noted as a possible application of the technology.

If you’ve ever worked with enterprise-level database systems, you’ll likely have a special appreciation for just how much of a difference it can make to eliminate some of the read/write cycles and redundancy as data is transmitted. It sounds like Microsoft has really done something here which will improve performance significantly while remaining affordable enough to be a practical solution.

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There are 4 comments

Blu-rayFreak
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 18 Feb 11 19:04
    Anything that improves HDD performance is good progress! Glad to hear that these innovations are still moving along...
    paulw2
    MyCE Senior Member
    Posted on: 18 Feb 11 21:49
      Quote:
      Originally Posted by Blu-rayFreak
      Anything that improves HDD performance is good progress! Glad to hear that these innovations are still moving along...
      But someone else will claim it was their idea and the lawyers battles will start and the idea will be tied up for years..
      RTV71
      MyCE Member
      Posted on: 19 Feb 11 02:38
        Quote:
        Originally Posted by paulw2
        But someone else will claim it was their idea and the lawyers battles will start and the idea will be tied up for years..
        That's assuming that someone else didn't create it before they did and that the idea is even patentable (then again, with the current PTO most anything is patentable).
        debro
        Blown to smitherines
        Posted on: 22 Feb 11 13:22
          Quote:
          Originally Posted by paulw2
          But someone else will claim it was their idea and the lawyers battles will start and the idea will be tied up for years..
          Quote:
          Originally Posted by RTV71
          That's assuming that someone else didn't create it before they did and that the idea is even patentable (then again, with the current PTO most anything is patentable).
          Like ... seagate with their hybrid drives?

          All microsoft is doing is moving the flash buffer closer to the system bus.

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