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Designing computer systems with MEMS-based storage

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.1994 by Steven W. Schlosser
Abstract: "For decades the RAM-to-disk memory hierarchy gap has plagued computer architects. An exciting new storage technology based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is poised to fill a large portion of this performance gap, significantly reduce power consumption, and enable many new classes of applications. This research explores the impact that several different MEMS-based storage designs will have on computer systems. Results from five application studies show these devices reduce application I/O stall times by 3-10X and improve overall application performance by 1.6-8.1X. Further, integrating MEMS-based storage as a disk cache achieves a 3.5X performance improvement over a standalone disk drive. Power consumption simulations show that MEMS-based storage devices use up to 10X less power than state-of-the-art low-power disk drives. Many of these improvements stem from the fact that average access times for MEMS-based storage are 10X faster than disks and that MEMS devices are able to rapidly move between active and power-down mode. Combined with the differences in the physical behavior of MEMS-based storage, these characteristics create numerous opportunities for restructuring the storage/memory hierarchy."