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The Memory Cube

By Steve Jones,

How would you like memory in your SQL Server that's 15 times as fast as your current DDR3 DRAM? I know I would, and since memory is often one of the things that can dramatically speed up, or hinder, SQL Server performance, this article about new memory cubes is good news. Over 100 companies have signed on to the specifications for three dimensional DRAM, which stacks memory dies on top of each other.

How much better is the performance? Try 160GBps for this cube against the 11GBps that we typically see from DDR3. Even DDR4 is only 18-20GBps of aggregate bandwidth. What's more, this new technology should require less power. That's a good sign as more and more data centers are finding that power and cooling are significant issues and can end up being a significant percentage of the total cost of operating computer systems. 

This technology isn't quite ready for production, as the prototypes only hold 2GB and 4GB of memory right now. However I would expect that to grow quickly as memory companies look to get production cubes out in 2013. The deployment will likely start in network devices and other environments where extremely high speed memory is needed, but I could see that server computers, especially those slated to handle large numbers of virtual machines, will move to this technology once capacities get over 32GB. At that point, there could be lots of OLTP systems that would benefit from faster access to memory, especially those systems backing high volume, (relatively) low storage systems.

The bottleneck for many systems will continue to be the disk drives, but if you can process more data in memory, at a much faster rate, I'm sure there are lots of DBAs that would love to use this technology to reduce the number of complaints from their clients.

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