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Micron Shows Superfast 128 GBps DRAM Memory

By - Source: c't | B 23 comments

Micron demonstrated a prototype of a possible future DRAM technology at the Hot Chips conference.

Called Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC), the technology represents a logic layer with a stack of memory chips that are vertically connected with through silicon vias (TSVs). According to Micron, the number of contacts as well as short distances enable dramatically higher data transfer rates than today's memory architecture. The prototype shown at Hot Chips was rated at 128 GBps.

In comparison, current DDR3-1600 devices deliver 12.8 GBps. Micron claims that a single HMC could deliver about 20 times the bandwidth of a DDR3 module, while it consumes substantially less energy - only 10 percent of the energy per bit that DDR3 uses. According to the manufacturer, the architecture also requires about 90 percent less space than current RDIMMs.

Micron does not provide any information when HMCs will be available for purchase, but it pitches the technology as a way to break through the "memory wall", which is a term that commonly refers to the relatively small gains in memory efficiency and performance gains. The memory is designed to be used either to be used in close proximity to the CPU in performance-based systems or as far memory in systems that are built for better power efficiency.

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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    RazberyBandit , August 25, 2011 2:13 AM
    From the sounds of it, they basically laid a bunch of memory chips down, stacked 'em up, then poked them full of high-speed pathways. What a simple but brilliant idea if it truly works.

    It'd be wise for chip-makers to look into developmental partnerships with Micron on this one. Getting this kind of tech integrated into CPUs and/or Northbridges, or even simpler SOC designs would be pretty huge.
  • 10 Hide
    stewch , August 25, 2011 1:04 AM
    Awesome! Maybe Micron will give me my job back.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    stewch , August 25, 2011 1:04 AM
    Awesome! Maybe Micron will give me my job back.
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • 8 Hide
    house70 , August 25, 2011 1:09 AM
    This is the first step towards a RAM-less system, where you can cram enough memory in a cache-type CPU to make RAM obsolete. Otherwise, the transfer rate would be limited by the mobo/northbridge.
  • 6 Hide
    x Heavy , August 25, 2011 1:43 AM
    Kewl. Maybe no more ram modules. Just stack em cubes into the bridges and CPU.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , August 25, 2011 1:52 AM
    Sounds interesting. Does anyone have any idea how it might affect Adobe Photoshop products? Would there be any performance boost?
  • -1 Hide
    memadmax , August 25, 2011 2:13 AM
    NICE, if capacity is as high as the thoroughput, then say goodbye to mass storage lol
  • 10 Hide
    RazberyBandit , August 25, 2011 2:13 AM
    From the sounds of it, they basically laid a bunch of memory chips down, stacked 'em up, then poked them full of high-speed pathways. What a simple but brilliant idea if it truly works.

    It'd be wise for chip-makers to look into developmental partnerships with Micron on this one. Getting this kind of tech integrated into CPUs and/or Northbridges, or even simpler SOC designs would be pretty huge.
  • -3 Hide
    FloKid , August 25, 2011 3:07 AM
    Ramory cubed.
  • -1 Hide
    christop , August 25, 2011 4:19 AM
    Nice speed but my minds wonders how much will it cost?
  • 2 Hide
    Meatymutawings , August 25, 2011 5:00 AM
    It's a "Prototype" of a "Possible" future DRAM as in sub-title.
    I'd be surprised to see it on the market any time soon.
  • -6 Hide
    whysobluepandabear , August 25, 2011 5:10 AM
    My name is WhySoBluePandaBear, and I support this message....article....thing.
  • 5 Hide
    CaedenV , August 25, 2011 5:32 AM
    Hyper Cube!
  • -1 Hide
    ikyung , August 25, 2011 5:33 AM
    Wow 128gbps
  • 3 Hide
    Lekko , August 25, 2011 6:00 AM
    What kinda thermal properties does it have? Something that gets hot sandwiched between more things that get hot sounds bad, however it uses far less juice, so it might balance out.

    Good work guys!
  • 5 Hide
    archange , August 25, 2011 6:21 AM
    Umm, sounds vaguely familiar with Terminator's wafer-like stacked CPU xD


    Seriously, that would be an awesome companion for GPU embedded graphics [cough] Fusion [cough].
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2011 6:31 AM
    TSV technology is really hot topic at the semicon industry at the moment. Samsung has demonstrated similar stacked memory modules couple months ago. The problem still is the cost of stacking the modules. Much more expensive than having them side by side on the PCB.
  • 1 Hide
    zodiacfml , August 25, 2011 8:34 AM
    +1
    quite agree. video is becoming integrated, why not also RAM which could be made more than enough for its specific usage and lifespan of the system.

    house70This is the first step towards a RAM-less system, where you can cram enough memory in a cache-type CPU to make RAM obsolete. Otherwise, the transfer rate would be limited by the mobo/northbridge.

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2011 9:54 AM
    Time to add a memory cube to minecraft.
  • 0 Hide
    TeraMedia , August 25, 2011 2:42 PM
    Now "all" they need to do is incorporate some thermal conduction channels (either fluid or metal, whichever works better) into this concept so that a Chipset-CPU-GPU-SRAM-DRAM stack can be cooled down enough to avoid dopant migration, and they're onto something. The socket for such a thing would need to include the SB port pins (SATA, USB, HD Audio, etc.), plus the video outputs (HDMI / DP), plus perhaps a few PCIe channels for other peripherals. An expandable version might have a single memory channel as well. I could see this being a success as a laptop-on-a-chip, or an office desktop-on-a-chip, as well as a server performance add-in module for a VM host. That memory bandwidth is in the same realm as the top-end discrete GPUs of today, so if the power and heat problems can be solved then this even facilitates a viable gaming computer on-a-chip. Of course, that's an awful lot of power and heat to manage on a single chip, though you would be able to save some by reducing the power consumed in chip-to-chip interconnect circuits and amplifiers.

    This is going to be interesting to see where it goes.
  • 3 Hide
    bboysil , August 25, 2011 2:48 PM
    I see people saying about being used as a cpu cache but the article doesn't state about the latency which is very important for caches(a normal CPU L1 cache should have 1 to a very few CPU clock cycles).. and I am guessing it does have a latency comparable to todays DRAM modules if not greater... Let's just wait and see ...
    but my bet is that this tech is not for caches, but for regular DRAM usage
  • 1 Hide
    mac_angel , August 25, 2011 7:12 PM
    LekkoWhat kinda thermal properties does it have? Something that gets hot sandwiched between more things that get hot sounds bad, however it uses far less juice, so it might balance out. Good work guys!


    Well, it says it's only going to need 10% of the power of equivalent DDR RAM, so I'd assume if it's using less power it will produce less heat.
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