Functional and Non-functional Properties of NVRAM for Embedded Systems: An Analysis and Discussion

Henriette Hofmeier, Stefan Reif, Tobias Langer, Laura Lawniczak, Timo Hönig and Wolfgang Schröder-Preikschat
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


For the reliable operation of embedded systems, it is critical to look at their individual functional and non-functional properties and their system software. Therefore, it is an integral part of the design of system software and its implementation to consider functional properties such as data consistency and correctness. For a growing number of systems, it is also essential to consider non-functional properties: this includes, for example, low power demand and high performance (e.g., the reduction of latencies) as system resources are often limited. In particular, with edge computing and Internet of things (IoT) devices, the operating environments are subject to a thorough analysis of their individual non-functional properties.

Today, we see a number of radical changes for the functional and non-functional properties of storage devices and memory technologies. With the recent advances in byte-addressable non-volatile memory technologies, latencies and write endurance moved much closer to the performance of SRAM and DRAM rather than just to regular NAND flash memories. The improved non-functional properties position NVRAM as a possible replacement for the volatile memory technologies (i.e., SRAM, DRAM). NVRAM’s non-volatility and low leakage power, among other beneficial features like increased circuit density, allow for new embedded system designs. With the new hardware properties, new challenges arise for the design of system software, which is subject to current systems research.

This talk gives an overview of new NVRAM technologies and hardware platforms that are available today. Furthermore, the talk discusses hardware- and software-based adjustments required to incorporate NVRAM in system software for operating modern embedded systems.