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June 02, 2011

Phase Change Memory-Based "Moneta" System is up to seven times faster than flash memory drives

A view of the internals of the Moneta storage array with phase change memory modules installed

A University of California, San Diego faculty-student team is about to demonstrate a first-of-its kind, phase-change memory solid state storage device that provides performance thousands of times faster than a conventional hard drive and up to seven times faster than "current state-of-the-art" solid-state drives (SSDs, flash memory). Micron has released new flash memory SSDs that have faster read and write speeds. “Moneta,” uses phase-change memory (PCM), an emerging data storage technology that stores data in the crystal structure of a metal alloy called a chalcogenide



Moneta's custom-built "Onyx" phase-change memory module.


Moneta uses Micron Technology’s first-generation PCM chips and can read large sections of data at a maximum rate of 1.1 gigabytes per second and write data at up to 371 megabytes per second. For smaller accesses (e.g., 512 B), Moneta can read at 327 megabytes per second and write at 91 megabytes per second , or between two and seven times faster than a state-of-the-art, flash-based SSD. Moneta also provides lower latency for each operation and should reduce energy requirements for data-intensive applications.

Swanson hopes to build the second generation of the Moneta storage device in the next six to nine months and says the technology could be ready for market in just a few years as the underlying phase-change memory technology improves. The development has also revealed a new technology challenge.

“We’ve found that you can build a much faster storage device, but in order to really make use of it, you have to change the software that manages it as well. Storage systems have evolved over the last 40 years to cater to disks, and disks are very, very slow,” said Swanson. “Designing storage systems that can fully leverage technologies like PCM requires rethinking almost every aspect of how a computer system’s software manages and accesses storage. Moneta gives us a window into the future of what computer storage systems are going to look like, and gives us the opportunity now to rethink how we design computer systems in response.”

Note: Micron has a P320h drive using Micron’s 34nm SLC ONFI 2.1 NAND Flash that can perform sequential reads at up to 3 GB/s

The Micron P320h can write it at an impressive 2GBps. The P320h clocks in at 750,000 IOPS (input / output operations per second) when running Linux or 650,000 with Windows Server as the OS.



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