The current paradigm has become increasingly complex, said Black, and HMC is a significant shift. It uses a vertical conduit called through-silicon via (TSV) that electrically connects a stack of individual chips to combine high-performance logic with DRAM die. Essentially, the memory modules are structured like a cube instead of being placed flat on a motherboard. This allows the technology to deliver 15 times the performance of DDR3 at only 30% of the power consumption.
Even though DDR4 memory modules have been around in quantity for a short time, people are resistant to change. And the need for speed, whether it’s SSD’s stymied by SATA-2 data throughput or being married to DDR4 ram modules, is still pretty constant. But many manufacturers and analysts wonder aloud, “isn’t this speed good enough?”. That is true to an extent, the current OSes and chipset/motherboard manufacturers are perfectly happy cranking out product supporting the current state of the art. But know one wants to be the first to continue to push the ball of compute speed down the field. At least this industry group is attempting to get a plan in place for the next gen DDR memory modules. With any luck this spec will continue to evolve and sampled products will be sent ’round for everyone to review.
Given changes/advances in the storage and CPUs (PCIe SSDs, and 15 core Xeons), eventually a wall will be hit in compute per watt or raw I/O. Desktops will eventually benefit from any speed increases, but it will take time. We won’t see 10% better with each generation of hardware. Prices will need to come down before any of the mainstream consumer goods manufacturers adopt these technologies. But as previous articles have stated the “time to idle” measurement (which laptops and mobile devices strive to achieve) might be reason enough for the tablet or laptop manufacturers to push the state of the art and adopt these technologies faster than desktops.
Everspin on Wednesday said its MRAM magnetoresistive random access memory is trickling into products that require reliable, fast non-volatile memory that can preserve data in the event of a power failure.
Magneto-Resistive RAM in the news
I haven’t heard any product announcements in a while. But it appears Everspin is keeping the faith and shipping real products to real manufacturers. I couldn’t be happier that it’s now on the market and competing for some product designs head to head with RAM and Flash memory. But in this instance it’s really competing against a whole other main stream product; static RAM.
The so-called SRAM was always used as a high speed read mostly cache that allowed a good sized buffer to stay close to the CPU. Static RAM caches were the easiest (but maybe not most cost effective) way to bump the speed of any Motorola or Intel cpu during their co-domination of the desktop market (Intel 386 and Motorola 680000). Stick an SRAM between the CPU and the motherboard, and voila 10-15% performance increase versus a straight through connection between CPU and the motherboard. And static RAM much like Flash based memory chips could also be used to hold data resident for many days powered down. But the cost versus Flash makes it much less competitive. However MRAM can also be used where you might have used a static RAM in the past. Current manufacturers are using it in place of static RAM in hard drive Host Bus Adaptors. This is not just a cost savings but a material savings as these days it is more common to back any mission critical drive electronics with a super-capacitor.
With Magnetic RAMs you can skip including the super capacitor and let the persistence built-in to MRAM do the rest (no need for refreshes or write/re-writes in the background). It makes me wonder if you also went with a super-capacitor to back everything locally and a Magnetic RAM module as well how big a mess that might give them to manage. But from a risk management standing, how much extra or how much less risk would you incur using MRAM plus Super-capacitors in your Disk Controller? I’m sure the cost of manufacture might not warrant the extra effort, but it would still be cool to see a statistical analysis comparing this ‘belt and suspenders’ extravagant setup versus just MRAM or just Super-capacitors.
- New memory models support system design for next year’s introduction of Everspin STT MRAMs (eda360insider.wordpress.com)
- Elpida prototypes 50nm, 64Mbit, 10nsec Resistive RAM (ReRAM). 30nm production slated for 2013 (denalimemoryreport.wordpress.com)
- ReRAM and the memory chip contest (bbc.co.uk)
Covering the evolution off desktop commodity computer technologies has been fun going back to the days of Computer Shopper. I used to look at all the different specs, and standards and technologies. We’ve gotten faster CPUS, graphics cards, PCI buses, hard drives and now Solid state disks instead of hard drives. What’s left to innovate? Well let’s take a look at the lowly Dynamic Random Access Memory chip shall we? Or more specifically how that chip is packaged up onto a circuit board the Dual Inline Memory Moducle (DIMM). Read On:
Invensas, a subsidiary of chip microelectronics company Tessera, has discovered a way of stacking multiple DRAM chips on top of each other. This process, called multi-die face-down packaging, or xFD for short, massively increases memory density, reduces power consumption, and should pave the way for faster and more efficient memory chips.
Who says there’s no such thing as progress? Apart from the DDR memory bus data rates moving from DDR-3 to DDR-4 soon what have you read that was significantly different, much less better than the first gen DDR DIMMS from years ago? Chip stacking is de rigeur for manufacturers of Flash memory especially in mobile devices with limited real estate on the motherboards. This packaging has flowed back into the computer market very handily and has lead to small form factors in all the very Flash memory devices. Whether it be, Thumb drives, or aftermarket 2.5″ Laptop Solid State Disks or embedded on an mSATA module everyone’s benefiting equally.
Wither stacking of RAM modules? I know there’s been some efforts to do this again for the mobile device market. But any large scale flow back into the general computing market has been hard to see. I’m hoping this announcement Invensas is a real shipping product eventually and not an attempt to stake a claim on intellectual property that will take the form of lawsuits against current memory designers and manufacturers. Stacking is the way to go, even if it never can be used in say a CPU, I would think clock speeds and power savings requirements on RAM modules might be sufficient to allow some stacking to occur. And if the memory access speeds improve at the same time, so much the better.
- Laptop Memory Upgrade – Notebook RAM Types & Prices (apparichith.wordpress.com)
- What are advantages of ddr2 over ddr1 (wiki.answers.com)
- Single-Chip DIMM To Replace Big Sticks of RAM (hardware.slashdot.org)