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Microsoft builds speedy flash bridge between RAM, hard disk

Jon Brodkin | Feb. 17, 2011
Microsoft researchers are trying to improve the efficiency of flash memory by building software that uses solid-state storage in conjunction with RAM and hard disk, and eliminates random writes and other wasted operations.

Microsoft didn't say when or if FlashStore will be turned into a commercial product, but mentioned Xbox Live and ad-sponsored online searches as the types of applications that might benefit from such a system. Microsoft also said FlashStore makes Flash "work efficiently enough to be more attractive on the price-performance tradeoff for heavy-duty server and cloud computing."

Flash-based solid state storage has become cost-effective in many types of applications that require very fast access to data, such as online search, social networking, e-commerce, databases, data processing and online transaction processing, IDC analyst Jeffrey Janukowicz says.

"Software vendors, like Microsoft, and hardware vendors needed to optimize those pieces for the characteristics of NAND flash technology," Janukowicz writes in an email. "NAND flash behaves very differently than both DRAM and HDDs, so vendors needed to address both the physical hardware and software stacks to accommodate solid state storage to avoid shifting performance bottlenecks to other components of the system. This means looking at aspects like the elimination of random writes."

 

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