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Six trends in high-speed memory technologies

Posted: 11 Apr 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:-speed memory  Rambus  DDR4  DDR3  embedded DRAM 

Aside from DDR4, which will enter high-level production this year, there are a number of other high-speed memory technologies that can increase the performance of servers, systems and SoCs. Here are six of the latest technologies, from DDR4 to embedded DRAM and various SRAM cells, as well as the latest technology from memory specialist Rambus.

DDR4

The latest high speed dynamic memory technology is DDR4, set to reach the market in volume later this year. The specification started in 2005 in order to deliver faster clock frequencies, to provide higher data rates of 4266MT/s (up from 2133Mtransfers/s for DDR3), and to support lower voltages of 1.05-1.2V in new chipsets. The standard also includes Connectivity Test, a type of JTAG boundary scan that boosts device and module manufacturing testing by enabling early fault detection in order to reduce time spent on debugging and improve system reliability. Samsung started production of 4G DDR4 devices on 20nm in September 2013, while Micron Technologies, which now includes Elpida, is shipping 8G and 4G DDR4 devices.

DDR3

The older high-speed memory technology is still thriving and moving from 30-20nm to save power, give it a new lease of life, and cover the gap before DDR4 ships in high volume. DDR3 is presently the mainstream PC technology with voltages of 1.2-1.5V and data transfers up to 2133Mtransfers/s.

Embedded DRAM

The interface to the memory banks is often the limiting factor for high-speed performance, and that can be avoided by integrating the memory directly alongside the logic. This is where embedded DRAM (eDRAM) comes in. This technology can deliver memory access speeds that match the processor interface, eliminating the need for memory banks. Normally every bit in a commodity DRAM is refreshed every 64ms or longer, but embedded DRAM allows a much more frequent refresh spec as low as 2ms, but this depends on the memory controller that is used. The issue has traditionally been delivering reliable DRAM capacitors in leading edge process technologies, although the smaller capacitors allow for faster operation.

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