Alternative to SSDs

Violin Intelligent Memory Modules (VIMMs) are the best way to deliver the benefits of flash in the data center. VIMMs function as a hardware-based Flash Translation Layer within the Flash Fabric Architecture (FFA), providing our Flash Storage Platform with garbage collection, wear leveling, and error/fault management. Data is written to and read from VIMMs, which avoid the shortcoming of Solid State Disk (SSD) designs and the limitations of their legacy storage architectures. As a result, Violin is able to deliver the full potential of flash technology at the cost of legacy enterprise disk with our Flash Storage Platform.

Each VIMM includes:

  • High-performance logic-based flash controller
  • Management processor
  • DRAM for metadata
  • NAND flash for storage

Scalability

VIMMs enable the scalability of large flash arrays. The advantages of our VIMM architecture over simple SSDs are significant:

  • Integrated garbage collection for sustained write performance
  • Low latency access to DRAM metadata and flash memory
  • Safe access and local storage of metadata for fault recovery
  • Integrated monitoring and management of flash memory health
  • Distributed ECC correction for maximum bandwidth
  • Hot swap and redundancy management

vRAID

Violin’s patented flash vRAID technology, designed specifically to enhance VIMM availability, provides full RAID data protection and a fundamentally more efficient and higher performance solution. vRAID guarantees spike-free latency under load by ensuring there aren’t any reads blocked by erases. Notably, the microsecond latency of Violin’s Flash Storage Platform significantly improves metrics such as file read and write, response, and query times.

Availability

VIMMs work in conjunction with vRAID to ensure a very high degree of system availability and data integrity through multiple techniques, including:

  • Data validation
  • Data scrubbing: Flash wear leveling
  • Flash statistics monitoring

The combination of VIMMs and vRAID resolve the issues of flash errors, reliability, and wear to deliver an enterprise-class flash array with a far greater life expectancy than typical HDD arrays. In all the time that Violin Systems has been shipping flash arrays, no customer has worn out a VIMM. There have been component failures, but typical enterprise use has resulted in wear rates of significantly less than 10% per year.