Samsung Waves Around Industry’s First 16GB DDR4 Memory Modules

July 23rd, 2012

by Paul Lilly

Lest anyone forget that Samsung dabbles in more areas than just displays, the technology guru has just begun sampling what it claims is the world’s first 16GB double data rate-4 (DDR4), registered dual inline memory modules (RDIMMs), which at the outset are designed for use in enterprise class servers.

Samsung said it’s sampling both 8GB and 16GB DDR4 memory modules, which it produces using a 30nm-class process technology.  These aren’t the first DDR4 modules, however, as Samsung unveiled 2GB DDR4 memory sticks way back in December 2010.

Samsung_DDR4

“By launching these new high-density DDR4 modules, Samsung is embracing closer technical cooperation with key CPU and server companies for development of next-generation green IT systems,” said Wanhoon Hong, executive vice president, memory sales & marketing, Samsung Electronics. “Samsung will also aggressively move to establish the premium memory market for advanced applications including enterprise server systems and maintain the competitive edge for Samsung Green Memory products, while working on providing 20 nanometer (nm) class based DDR4 DRAM in the future.”

According to Samsung, DDR4 technology offers the best performance out of all memory products currently available, and it’s expected to reach twice the current 1,600Mbps throughput of DDR3 by next year. DDR4 modules also require just 1.2 volts, reducing power consumption by about 40 percent compared to DDR3 memory operating at 1.35V.

As of right now, there doesn’t exist a finalized JEDEC standard for DDR4, though Samsung is confident an official specification will be hammered out by August.

Micron Announces its First DDR4 Module, Production in Q4

July 9th, 2012

by Douglas Perry – source: Micron

Micron said that it has begun shipping “fully functional” DDR4 memory modules in sample numbers to customers.

DDR4 is expected to be shipping in volume in 2014, but Micron believes that it will enter volume production in the fourth quarter of this year and have the chips ready for applications in early 2013.

The modules were developed in collaboration with Nanya and manufactured as a the 4 Gb DDR4 x8 part in a 30 nm process. When in production, Micron says it will be offering RDIMMs, LRDIMMs, 3DS, SODIMMs and UDIMMs in standard and ECC versions. Initial speeds of the devices will reach 2,400 MT/s and eventually hit 3,200 MT/s.

“With the JEDEC definition for DDR4 very near finalization, we’ve put significant effort into ensuring that our first DDR4 product is as JEDEC-compatible as it can be at this final stage of its development,” said Brian Shirley, vice president for Micron’s DRAM Solutions Group, in a prepared statement. “We’ve provided samples to key partners in the market place with confidence that the die we give them now is the same die we will take into mass production.”

Micron’s roadmap looks especially interesting in the light of its planned acquisition of Elpida Memory, which could boost its DRAM market share to an estimated 25 percent, according to market research firm IHS. The company could grow into a serious competitor for Samsung, which announced the first DDR4 module in January 2011.

Samsung targets embedded memory at smartphones

June 4th, 2012

Richard Wilson

Samsung Electronics says it has started production of embedded multi-chip package (eMCP) memory for smartphone designs.

The embedded memory is low power DDR2 (double-data-rate 2) DRAM made with 30nm process technology and NAND flash memory using 20nm-class technology.

Embedded memory is expected to become an important element in smartphone data storage as platform software and web browsing capabilties increase in complexity.

The advantage of embedded memory is lower power consumption and a simpler design process.

“As the need is growing for more advanced software and increased data storage in smartphones and tablets, mobile device makers are expected to introduce embedded memory solutions throughout 2012 that offer higher performance and density,” said Myungho Kim, v-p of memory marketing at Samsung Electronics.

This may interest you: Samsung plans $41bn investment

Samsung is expected to put a focus on its eMCP product range in 2012.

Samsung’s embedded multi-chip packages incliude 4Gbyte device based on 20nm-class NAND flash memory for data storage. There is also 256MB, 512MBs or 768MBs of 30nm-class LPDDR2 DRAM for higher performance mobile devices. (Each is equivalent to 2Gbit, 4Gbit and 6Gbit, respectively.)

The 30nm-class LPDDR2 DRAM chip will offer smartphones a data transmission speed of 1,066Mbit/s, which doubles the performance of the industry’s previous mobile DRAM (MDDR).

When compared to a 40nm LPDDR2 DRAM, the 30nm LPDDR2 DRAM increases performance by approximately 30%, while consuming 25% less power, said Samsung.

DDR4 memory poised to boost tablet and server performance

May 29th, 2012

IHS iSuppli analysts expect big performance gains in data centres and on consumer devices

By Lucas Mearian – ComputerWorld US

The upcoming shift from Double Data Rate 3 (DDR3) RAM to its successor DDR4 will herald a significant boost in both memory performance and capacity for data centre hardware and consumer products alike, according to IHS iSuppli analysts.

The DDR4 memory standard, which the Joint Electronic Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC) expects to ratify this summer, represents a doubling of performance over its predecessor and a reduction in power use by 20% to 40% based on a maximum 1.2 volts of power use.

“It’s a fantastic product,” said Mike Howard, an analyst with market research firm IHS iSuppli. “Increasing the amount of memory and the bandwidth of that memory is going to have huge implications.”

DDR4’s significant reduction in power needs means that relatively low-priced DDR memory will, for the first time, be used in mobile products such as ultrabooks and tablets, according to Howard.

Today, mobile devices use low-power DDR (LPDDR) memory, the current iteration of which uses 1.2v of power. The next generation of mobile memory, LPDDR3, will further reduce that power consumption (probably by 35% to 40%), but it will likely cost 40% more than DDR4 memory, said Howard. (LPDDR memory is more expensive to manufacture.)

Designed for servers

The impact that DDR4 will have on the server market could be even greater.

Intel, for example, is planning to start using DDR4 in 2014, but only in server platforms, according to Howard. “Server platforms are the ones really screaming for this stuff, because they need the bandwidth and the lower voltage to reduce their power consumption.

“So while Intel is only supporting DDR4 on their server platforms in 2014, I have a feeling they’re going to push it to their compute platforms as well in 2014,” Howard continued.

The draft of the DDR4 specification and its key attributes were released last August.

“With DDR4, we’re certainly seeing some larger power savings advantages with the performance increase,” said Todd Farrell, director of technical marketing for Micron’s DRAM Solutions Group.

Both Samsung and Micron have announced they’re preparing to ship memory modules based on the DDR4 standard. Samsung’s memory modules, expected to ship later this year, purport to reduce power use by up to 40%. Both companies are using 30nm circuitry to build their products, their smallest to date.

By employing a new circuit architecture, Samsung said its DDR4 modules will be able to perform operations at speeds of up to 3.2Gbps, compared with today’s DDR3 speeds of 1.6Gbps and DDR2’s speeds of up to 800Gbps.

Another benefit from the arrival of DDR4 will be greater density and the ability to stack more chips atop one another. Micron’s DDR4 memory module is expected to ship next year, but test modules have already shipped to system manufacturers.

“For DDR3, we see stacking going up to four chips (4H), but for DDR4 this clearly will go up to eight chips stacked on top of each other (8H), which means that, using a 16Gbit memory chip, manufacturers will be able to produce 128Gbit memory boards,” Farrell said.

Farrell described the jump from DDR3 to DDR4 as greater than any other past DDR memory evolution.

“It’s hard to pick just one attribute. DDR4 is one of these devices where you’re getting a lot of benefits at once. Power reduction is key. But at the same time we’re reducing power, we’re getting a substantial increase in performance. They kind of go hand in hand,” Farrell said.

For example, if you run DDR4 at the same bandwidth as DDR3, you can achieve a 30% to 40% power savings. Running at its maximum bandwidth, which represents a doubling of performance, DDR4 will use the same power as its predecessor.

Does power improvement matter?

Historically, memory power consumption has not been considered a big issue because at the motherboard level, processors were responsible for most of the power use in a system.

“Moving forward, as we see a tremendous amount of power reduction – especially in tablets – at that point, if the memory power doesn’t reduce with it all of a sudden the memory is setting your battery life,” Farrell said.

I/O signaling has been improved for added power savings. The I/O uses an “open drain” driver, meaning it only uses power when it writes a zero and not a one at the data bit level. Previous DDR memory used power when writing both zeros and ones.

“Our DRAM controller doesn’t drive current to a one,” Farrell said.

Another power-saving feature with the DDR4 standard will be a reduction in refreshes. In DDR3 memory boards, refreshes occur periodically – and more frequently as the temperature of a device rises. DDR4 memory is being tuned to take advantage of mobile device cooling capabilities. For example, as mobile devices like tablets and laptops go into sleep mode, they cool off. As they cool, DDR4 memory modules will refresh less often, thus using less power.

Additionally, DDR4 can be optimised for server use. For example, higher reliability can be configured using a Cyclic Redundancy Check for the data bus to verify the integrity of the memory. The command address bus also has parity built directly into the DRAM module. Traditionally, parity was achieved through the use of a separate register or another chip on a buffer DIMM.

Memory prices plummet, then stabilise

Even as the arrival of DDR4 memory nears, prices for DRAM remain soft, though the market is expected to pick up steam this year.

Last year, IHS iSuppli reported there was an oversupply in the DRAM market as demand came in lower than expected.

ISuppli has released figures showing that DRAM pricing declined to its lowest point at the end of 2010, the latest period for which it has released data. In December 2010, the contract price for a 2GB DDR3 DRAM module stood at $21, less than half the $44.40 the same module cost just six months earlier.

The price dip isn’t restricted to DDR3. Pricing for a DDR2 DRAM module dropped to $21.50 in December 2011, down from $38.80 in June 2010, according to iSuppli.

This year, iSuppli said it has a much more optimistic outlook for DRAM prices. “DRAM prices have stabilised (and look to stay firm), and the dynamic of the world economy looks much more positive in 2012,” it stated in a report last month.

After seeing major price declines in 2011, memory manufacturers cut output, bringing supply more in line with demand.

“Prices have been essentially flat in the commodity memory market since December, specifically DDR3. It is really weird,” Howard said, adding that market consolidation should help firm up memory prices this year.

For example, Japan’s Elpida Memory filed for bankruptcy in February. This week reports circulated that Micron is in talks to acquire Elpida.

“So it looks like there is going to be some really meaningful consolidation in the industry, and that’s pointing to a much better balance between supply and demand,” Howard said. “We’re anticipating prices for commodity products increasing in the second half of the year.”

AMD launches branded desktop memory modules

May 21st, 2012

by Steven Williamson

Advanced Micro Devices has announced the retail availability of its new AMD Memory branded desktop system memory modules.

In a statement announcing their availability AMD said it “aims take the guesswork out of DRAM selection, providing an easy and straightforward experience when looking for the ideal match for gaming or multimedia PC needs.”

The modules are available with various sizes, including 2GB, 4GB and 8GB, and various speeds. For the entertainment category, it will feature 1333 MHz and 1600 MHz speed RAM. A performance version supports speed up to 1600 MHz with low latency and comes in matched pairs, while Radeon Edition DRAM will run at 1866 MHz.

radeon

AMD has been supplying and validating memory for AMD Radeon graphics cards for several years,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD GPU Division. “Based on this experience, adding system memory to our product line was a clear opportunity for us. This move provides our partners and end-users with a trusted brand synonymous with quality — we can help ensure performance and reliability with AMD Memory.”

The devices are geared toward the OEM market as well as retail with the aim of providing an “easy and straightforward experience” for customers when adding memory to their PC system.