Terracotta and Purdue push limits of RAM

Terracotta 3.6 harnesses untapped server memory to speed up apps, while Purdue develops new breed of faster RAM using far less energy

The price of memory has slowly and steadily dropped in recent years, to the point that hardware vendors are rolling out commodity servers loaded with a whopping terabyte of RAM. The challenge, however, has been for companies to get their applications to take advantage of all that memory, a feat that has become more important as cloud computing spreads and big data swells.

One company looking to unleash even more of RAM's untapped power is Terracotta, which this week released version 3.6 of its in-memory data-management product. This new edition uses a technology called BigMemory to make better use of those terabytes of increasingly inexpensive RAM cropping up in today's servers and to boost the performance of Java applications.

BigMemory, which is built on pure Java itself, provides an in-process, off-heap cache for storing up to a full terabyte's worth of data on a server's built-in RAM. That means fewer transactions between servers and storage, resulting in snappier application performance.

BigMemory plugs into Enterprise Ehcache, Terracotta's version of Java's de facto caching standard. In addition to being compatible with commodity servers, BigMemory works with the most common JVMs, including HotSpot, IBM JDK, and JRockit.

Terracotta 3.6 also leverages ARC (Automatic Resource Control), an open source solution that allows an admin to specify the maximum size of a cache. From there, ARC dynamically allocates memory resources across data cache to optimize application performance.

In related RAM news, researchers out of Purdue University this week are developing a new type of RAM that could prove faster than existing memory -- while using 99 percent less energy than flash units. Dubbed FeTRAM (short for Ferroelectric Transistor RAM), the technology combines silicon nanowires with a ferroelectric polymer.

FeTRAM is similar to FeRAM, which is already being used commercially, albeit minimally. FeTRAM trumps FeRAM in that its data can be read without being lost. Development of FeTRAM is still in its early stages, though the university has already patented the technology.

This article, "Terracotta and Purdue push limits of RAM," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.