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Supermicro New Zealand
Technology Developments (DDR4, SAS3, SATAe, NVMe)
31 July 2014

This newsletter aims to provide our readers a good overview of the up and coming technology developments in our industry.

  • DDR4 SDRAM
  • SAS 3.0 12Gb/s
  • SATA Express 16Gb/s
  • NVM Express (NVMe)

DDR4 SDRAM is the latest variant of DRAM main memory to succeed the common DDR3 memory widely used today. While it is unfortunately not compatible with DDR3 it promises higher speeds and lower power consumption as an evolutionary step. In the later half of this year (2014) we should start to see computing platforms adopt this latest memory technology in order to offer higher computing performance. Pricing and availability will remain high and scarce respectively until mainstream demand picks up later this year. The early DDR4 products will be released at speeds of 2133 MT/s compared to the fastest DDR3 memory at 1866 MT/s today. DDR4 is expected to scale to at least 3200 MT/s and possibly beyond to 4266 MT/s.

Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) 3.0 12Gb/s has been around for a year but mainstream consumption is expected to rise rapidly later this year due to more products being made available. This latest revision of SAS brings twice the performance over SAS 6Gb/s, providing more bandwidth between hosts and end storage devices. This will be welcome news for users of SAS expanders to build large storage arrays or to connect more drives to existing systems. Be aware that this technology update brings along new cabling standards mini-SAS HD (SFF-8643 and SFF-8644) to replace the existing mini-SAS (SFF-8087 and SFF-8088).

SATA Express 16Gb/s is an interesting development that will eventually succeed SATA3 6Gb/s. Instead of doubling the speed of SATA3 it will use PCI-Express connectivity to reach speeds of 1969MB/s for SATA Express storage devices (i.e. SSDs) while keeping compatibility with older SATA3 6Gb/s SSDs and HDDs. This is equivalent to 3.2x faster than SATA3 at 600MB/s and is made possible by using two PCI-Express 3.0 x2 lanes.

Last but not least, NVMe (it stands for Non-Volatile Memory over PCI Express) is a new logical device interface that has been optimised to take advantage of the much faster SSDs available today and in the future. Think of NVMe as a standardised driver to replace the aging AHCI driver designed for spinning mechnical hard drives. Effectively it allows SSDs to communicate directly with the CPU over PCI Express while reducing the software stack latency of AHCI to achieve twice the IOPS and 50% lower latency than the older standard. In short, SATA Express and NVMe is the future for high performance SSD storage.

Hopefully this technology overview gives you an idea of what's ahead for us. Please feel free to contact us for assistance with any of your current and future projects and requirements.

Editor

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