Microsoft has announced a next-gen open-source cache-store system, Garnet, which it claims will bring major advances in making apps and services run faster. A cache store is a type of memory that is important for the quick storage and processing of data, and optimizing a system’s performance. 

According to Microsoft, it’s already deploying Garnet across a range of its products and services, such as Windows & Web Experiences Platform, Azure Resource Manager, and Azure Resource Graph, and that can lead to apps and services being able to run faster. 

In a surprising turn, it’s also made Garnet open-source and available for download at GitHub for free, going against Microsoft’s previous ambivalent (and somewhat downright hostile) approach to open-source. 

Microsoft's motivations for developing Garnet

Microsoft goes into detail about Garnet and what it’s been able to achieve on the Microsoft Research Blog, explaining that it takes a pretty big toll on most existing devices, due to it needing particularly powerful hardware to be able to achieve its full potential. 

The good news is that most modern PCs and laptops should come with hardware that's capable of taking advantage of Garnet, so hopefully soon most people using Windows 10 or Windows 11 will be able to make use of this innovative new tech.

In its blog post, Microsoft explains that it’s been working on a remote cache store since 2021, which would replace existing cache stores – and this work has resulted in Garnet. In a very welcome move, Microsoft has also opened up Garnet to anyone interested in learning about, implementing, and contributing to the tech on GitHub, stating that it hopes others can build on its work and expand what Garnet can do, as well as encouraging further academic research and collaboration.

Problems of legacy (read: older) cache store systems for app and software developers include that they might not be easily upgraded to add new features, or they might not work well across a variety of platforms and operating systems. Microsoft suggests that Garnet doesn’t have problems like these because it is open source and that it can lead to better-performing and faster apps.

It’s to Microsoft’s credit that it’s opened Garnet up to the public in this way, and shows both a willingness to learn from others through direct collaboration and a great degree of confidence that it’s willing to offer up its innovations for analysis. It's certainly a nice change from the anti-open source Microsoft of old. Hopefully, users can start to see real-world benefits from Garnet in the near future. 


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