Crossbar Briefing Note
Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) is the nirvana of the memory and storage market. It provides most of the speed and durability of RAM but the persistence of flash. The combination should drive both in-memory computing initiatives and high performance storage. In fact, other than archive, one has to wonder why a data center armed with NVM will need storage. Of course we are a long way from replacing flash with NVM but the initial steps are underway. One of the leaders in that market is Crossbar. It is announcing at the Flash Memory Summit its Resistive RAM (RRAM) technology is ready for licensing at 40nm (nanometers).
24 Million IOPS
Crossbar believes that it can achieve 24 million IOPS on a single 4TB NV-DIMM without the use of a RAM buffer or a capacitor. More importantly, RRAM does not need to do the garbage collection that flash does. The elimination of garbage collection means that the high performance should be able to be sustained even if the inbound writes to the device are constant.
What is Resistive RAM?
Crossbar’s product is Resistive RAM (RRAM), which is a type of NVM. It is focused on storage. Crossbar claims that their RRAM technology can perform a byte write in 12us (microseconds) and a read in 25ns (nanoseconds). Unlike flash memory the RRAM technology does not have to perform a block erase prior to a write. The technology is scaleable, available today at 40nm with the potential to get down to 10nm or less. The technology is also more power efficient than current flash technology. It is also durable. Crossbar is claiming a 10-year life expectancy and 100K cycles.
The technology is very simple to port and transfer, based on the use case. SMIC, the first licensee of the technology was able to make the move in less than one year. This simplicity also enables density RRAM, much more than flash and other NVM memory technology like MRAM. The memory cells sit much closer thanks to the crosspoint technology that Crossbar uses.
The Use Cases
Crossbar’s initial target is Internet of Things (IoT) that could leverage the technology to replace flash storage increasing speed, power efficiency, density and durability. The next step is for Crossbar to create a new tier of storage between system RAM and flash storage. The goal is to provide an ultra low latency tier for in-memory databases and analytics applications.
Demands on systems and devices are moving from “fast” to real-time. In a real-time world flash is slow. Persistent RAM is critical to getting there and there are several technologies competing to be “the” technology. There are several companies promoting a cross point type of design, not the least of whom is Intel. Crossbar is proving that it can do more than keep pace and with the announcement they are open for business.