Concept

Memory virtualization

Summary
In computer science, memory virtualization decouples volatile random access memory (RAM) resources from individual systems in the data centre, and then aggregates those resources into a virtualized memory pool available to any computer in the cluster. The memory pool is accessed by the operating system or applications running on top of the operating system. The distributed memory pool can then be utilized as a high-speed cache, a messaging layer, or a large, shared memory resource for a CPU or a GPU application. Memory virtualization allows networked, and therefore distributed, servers to share a pool of memory to overcome physical memory limitations, a common bottleneck in software performance. With this capability integrated into the network, applications can take advantage of a very large amount of memory to improve overall performance, system utilization, increase memory usage efficiency, and enable new use cases. Software on the memory pool nodes (servers) allows nodes to connect to the memory pool to contribute memory, and store and retrieve data. Management software and the technologies of memory overcommitment manage shared memory, data insertion, eviction and provisioning policies, data assignment to contributing nodes, and handles requests from client nodes. The memory pool may be accessed at the application level or operating system level. At the application level, the pool is accessed through an API or as a networked file system to create a high-speed shared memory cache. At the operating system level, a page cache can utilize the pool as a very large memory resource that is much faster than local or networked storage. Memory virtualization implementations are distinguished from shared memory systems. Shared memory systems do not permit abstraction of memory resources, thus requiring implementation with a single operating system instance (i.e. not within a clustered application environment).
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