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Membrain is an enterprise-level software cache and data store created specifically to exploit the performance and cost advantages of flash memory. Membrain powers access to data at speeds close to that of DRAM from up to 1TB of flash memory on each server. Instead of caching data in DRAM and spreading (sharding) the data across many servers to deliver a desired level of performance, Membrain delivers much higher cache capacity from flash drives at greatly reduced cost in servers and their annual operating costs. Membrain is fully compatible with the widely used Memcached caching protocol but goes beyond to offer persistent flash with enterprise-grade high-availability features.
Caching is essential to many data centers as a way to speed up the performance for end users utilizing highly trafficked web applications. For example, in a traditional database, such as MySQL or Oracle 11, , data running on hard drives is copied and placed into short-term storage on a cache. The cache often uses DRAM, a traditional fast-but-expensive memory technology that allows an application to retrieve data very quickly. The application sees if the data is in the cache, and if so, accesses it very quickly. If not, the data is read from the slower source and placed into the cache for much faster future access. By enabling the use of flash rather than DRAM, Membrain is a cost-effective alternative to caching exclusively in DRAM.
Memcached and other traditional caching solutions speed up the performance of web applications, making it easier for data centers to meet their service-level agreements for end-user performance. But traditional Memcached has a drawback it shares with many NoSQL databases: data must be kept in expensive DRAM to achieve the best performance. In addition to being cost prohibitive, traditional Memcached also often leads to excessive sharding, spreading data across many inefficiently utilized servers. Instead, Membrain uses less-expensive solid state drives (SSDs) running on commodity, multi-core x86 servers, providing DRAM-like speed at a lower cost.
Membrain has built-in high-availability features, including high-speed synchronous replication between pairs of Membrain-powered servers and immediate, automated failover and recovery. Active/active replication fully utilizes all nodes, and synchronous replication ensures no data is lost on failover.
With Memcached or any other DRAM-based cache, data can be lost during a power outage because of the volatility of DRAM. By exploiting flash memory, Membrain ensures that all cached data is immediately available, even if a server unexpectedly loses power. Thanks to persistent caching, Membrain also eliminates performance-degrading warm-up periods.
Multi-core processors allow parallel execution of multiple threads, yet Memcached and NoSQL solutions typically don't exploit this parallelism. Thus, much of the raw processing power of standard multi-core x86 servers is unused, and these systems are underutilized. While maintaining compatibility with Memcached, Membrain software delivers maximum parallelism and extremely efficient server CPU utilization, which allows dramatic server consolidation for many projects.
Membrain works with RAID and, depending on the specific Solid State Drives (SSDs) used, can protect against downtime from SSD failure or planned maintenance. Membrain also supports hot-swapping where available with SAS and SATA SSDs. Membrain is compatible with RAID5, which minimizes the capacity overhead required for redundancy.
Membrain Software is optimized for and requires flash memory. Membrain must be evaluated and deployed on a dedicated server. Do not run Membrain under a VM either for an evaluation or production use.