HPE, NVDIMM and SUSE: A History of Collaboration

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Guest blog by Tom Vaden, Distinguished Technologist, HPE 

What is NVDIMM?

NVDIMM persistent memory is a watershed technology that enables persistent data storage at memory speed. With the availability of Hewlett Packard Enterprise NVDIMM DDR4 modules and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2, the promise of NVDIMM solutions in standard computing platforms now can be realized.

Why NVDIMM?

NVDIMM devices can be used as read/write storage devices that easily outperform even fabric-connected, solid-state devices. It can also be used with memory load/store semantics to allow applications to provide computer memory that needs no backing store to retain and protect memory contents when systems crash. In either the storage device personality or memory semantic personality, NVDIMM technology presents a new pattern for application use that provides significant performance improvements both in normal application operation and application recovery scenarios.

As Scott Farrand, VP Platform Software, Hewlett Packard Enterprise said, “Next generation applications, especially database and analytics applications, require new levels of performance.  Through close collaborative engineering HPE and SUSE have enabled support for NVDIMM technology on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2 allowing customers to begin achieving and exceeding performance requirements for next generation applications.”

Collaboration with SUSE

To make effective use of NVDIMM technology, server platforms need reliable and fast NVDIMM devices, and HPE now provides that. Also, changes are required in the operating system software stack. SUSE and Hewlett Packard Enterprises along with others in the Linux kernel community have been working to do just that for SLES12 SP2.

With the availability of system solutions from HPE and SUSE, ISVs and application communities now have access to NVDIMM technology to improve both their data access performance and data resilience. However, ISVs and application communities have choices to make with how they make use of NVDIMMs. The dual storage-device/memory-semantic personalities provided in the Linux technology in SLES12 SP2 allow applications to evolve to take advantage of NVDIMMs at their own pace. Applications can simply start by replacing solid-state or spinning-media devices with NVDIMM storage devices to see improvements. Over time applications can progress into deeper application changes that take advantage of byte-addressable, memory-semantic operations to see even better performance and resilience. Some of the different models of application use are cataloged by the SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) NVDIMM programming model available at: http://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/technical_work/final/NVMProgrammingModel_v1.1.pdf.

To provide support of NVDIMMs in an enterprise distribution, HPE and SUSE both worked in the Linux community to provide up-stream code and worked together to bring up-stream NVDIMM system software technology into SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 2. HPE and SUSE have done joint work specifically on the Linux code that makes use of the firmware interfaces that provide platform support for the type of NVDIMM (i.e. NVDIMM-N) that HPE provides with the new DDR4 modules. For more on NVDIMM types go to SNIA’s NVDIMM SIG site: http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi/NVDIMM. The two companies also have done work on general NVDIMM drivers and performance by-pass mechanisms (e.g. DAX a.k.a. Direct Access that’s eXciting).

The NVDIMM technology collaboration is another in a long line of teamwork efforts between HPE and SUSE. This latest collaboration allows Linux-based enterprise support of HPE’s persistent memory that is the industry’s first server platform providing persistent memory in an NVDIMM form factor.

NVDIMMs provide a new pattern of memory speeds with storage device persistence that allows opportunities for better performing and more resilient solution stacks. Applications that decide to take advantage of this technology to store persistent data can realize remarkable gains in their ability to perform while satisfying their requirements for data storage integrity.

For more information on HPE NVDIMM technology go to: http://www.hpe.com/info/persistentmemory

For more information on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP2: https://www.suse.com/products/server/highlights

Tom Vaden is a Distinguished Technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. He currently works as a strategist in Linux operating environments in HPE Servers focusing on areas of OS enablement and performance of future technologies in HPE server products. He has been involved with Unix-based operating systems for over 40 years.

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