Caching is a well-known concept in both the hardware and software worlds. Traditionally, caching has been a stand-alone mechanism, but that is not workable anymore in most environments because applications now run on multiple servers and in multiple processes within each server.
In-memory distributed caching is a form of caching that allows the cache to span multiple servers so that it can grow in size and in transactional capacity. Distributed caching has become feasible now for a number of reasons. First, memory has become very cheap, and you can stuff computers with many gigabytes at throwaway prices. Second, network cards have become very fast, with 1Gbit now standard everywhere and 10Gbit gaining traction. Finally, unlike a database server, which usually requires a high-end machine, distributed caching works well on lower cost machines (like those used for Web servers), which allows you to add more machines easily.
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