#184 – MCAS – Memory Centric Active Storage

#184 – MCAS – Memory Centric Active Storage

Chris EvansGuest Speakers, In-Memory Computing, Persistent Memory

This week, Chris and Martin talk to Daniel Waddington, Principal Research Staff Member in the Global Storage Research Group at IBM Research. Daniel is developing MCAS – Memory Centric Active Storage – a high-performance key-value store designed for persistent memory. The aim is to create a platform that can be used to bring storage and compute closer together.

Persistent memory has been a regular topic on Storage Unpacked (see related podcasts below) and we’re always interested to understand exactly how it can be fully exploited in the enterprise. PMEM offers byte-level addressing and is particularly suitable for sparse workloads. It’s hoped that MCAS can fully utilise the unique nature of persistent memory and find uses in traditional storage platforms and the public cloud.

To learn more, check out the MCAS repository on GitHub. If you’re interested in learning more about the Computer History Museum we discussed at the top of the recording – here’s their website.

Elapsed Time: 00:36:41


  • 00:00:00 – Intros
  • 00:02:20 – How tall is a 3380?
  • 00:03:20 – What is MCAS?
  • 00:05:20 – MCAS uses persistent memory DIMMs using Intel Optane
  • 00:06:30 – Optane offers much lower I/O granularity – byte addressable
  • 00:07:42 – Intel Optane provides much more deterministic I/O latency
  • 00:08:38 – Has Optane been fully exploited in its current form?
  • 00:11:00 – Could Arm be used with persistent memory?
  • 00:11:34 – MCAS – deeper dive
  • 00:12:30 – MCAS will enable “push down” operations
  • 00:14:15 – MCAS could be used to help eliminate battery backup
  • 00:19:00 – How will CXL and other remote memory technologies help?
  • 00:21:30 – Computing architectures are evolving
  • 00:23:00 – Disaggregation is enabled via technologies like CXL
  • 00:24:33 – How long will it be before MCAS is available?
  • 00:26:23 – Exactly how would “push down” work?
  • 00:31:00 – MCAS will enable technologies like Computational Storage
  • 00:34:02 – Wrap Up

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