ARM, Dell EMC, HPE, Huawei, IBM and Samsung have formed an alliance to create and commercialise a new scalable computing interconnect and protocol.
The Gen-Z Consortium was put together to develop a new high-performance fabric because existing technologies are based on the assumption that storage is slow, persistent and reliable, while data in memory is fast but volatile.
The increasingly low cost, and hence adoption, of SSD storage, which offers 10 times the performance of conventional hard disk storage, has busted that consensus.
"As new storage-class memory technologies emerge that drive the convergence of storage and memory attributes, the programmatic and architectural assumptions that have worked in the past are no longer optimal," said the consortium in a statement.
"The challenges associated with explosive data growth, real-time application demands, the emergence of low-latency storage-class memory and demand for rack-scale resource pools require a new approach to data access."
The initiative aims to create a simplified interface scalable to several hundred gigabits per second of bandwidth with a load-to-use memory latency of less than 100 nanoseconds.
This will enable "data-centric computing with scalable memory pools and resources for real-time analytics and in-memory applications", according to the consortium.
The companies added that it will be highly software compatible and will require no changes to operating systems, although that remains to be seen.
The alliance members include AMD, ARM, Cavium, Cray, Dell EMC, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, IDT, Lenovo, Mellanox Technologies, Micron, Microsemi, Red Hat, Samsung, Seagate, SK Hynix, Western Digital and Xilinx. It is also open to new members.
Brad McCredie, fellow and vice president of Power development at IBM, said: "The increased computing demands of artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics and other cognitive era workloads require greater hardware performance and innovation.
"This increased demand, combined with the reduction in benefit from Moore’s Law, calls for a new set of open standards.
"The combination of system-level acceleration via CAPI technology, and now data centre rack-level acceleration with Gen-Z, can enable the industry to deliver much-desired breakthroughs in data centre technology."
The organisation will publish a core specification covering the architecture and protocol by the end of the year.
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