In this first post of a five-part series contributor Ron Neale analyzes selector technologies presented by CEA Leti at the 2018 IEDM conference last December.
At the close of last year the IEDM maintained its long-standing reputation for offering across-the-board the right focus at the right time on important and key parts of the electronic device discipline. For those with an interest in the future of stacked or 3D NV-memory arrays there were a number of important papers and presentations on a variety of thin film memory selectors or matrix isolation devices (MIDs).
Important, because as the move towards stacked memory arrays for storage class memory (SCM) and persistent memory (PM) applications gains momentum, the thin film selector may be the device which is key in determining the performance and reliability for a number of different types of NV memory arrays or even the very existence of that type of memory array. One of the important and poorly understood variables in the mix is the selector forming voltage and the structural changes which lead from it to the operating device threshold voltage which, in my view needs a lot more by way of detailed understanding.
As the memory array moves into Continue reading “NV Stacked Memory: Selectors and Forming (Part 1)”
[The following is a guest post written by Ron Neale.]
Until now designers of PCM devices have tried to make PCM meet their expectations by experimenting with an almost infinite number of possible multi-element glass compositions, in order to tinker with or emphasise a particular composition-related device characteristic. The apparent advantage of this great variety of materials comes with the baggage of reliability and performance-compromising element separation, driven by the forces of electro-migration, electrostatic effects and phase separation.
Is it possible to cast aside the problems of the multi-element PCM compositions and look at the possibility of monatomic PCMs? For a team at IBM, Zurich and Aachen University the answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” and recently they have published details of the remarkable progress they have made with amorphous antimony (Sb), as an initial candidate element. This research was published in a June 2018 paper in Nature Materials Letters titled: Monatomic phase change memory, by Martin Salinga et al, IBM and Aachen University).
A difficulty faces those venturing in this new direction: While it is possible to bring many elements to the amorphous state, they very quickly crystallize at room temperature and higher. The IBM researchers used simulations to find that the keys to obtaining a stable amorphous state is to control the quenching rate and the volume of the sample. That part of the antimony research is underpinned by some very impressive simulations that use only about 200 atoms.
Here’s the issue that this approach Continue reading “Monatomic PCMs: A New Direction”
This is Part 3 of a short Memory Guy series in which contributor Ron Neale continues to explore the possible future impact on PCM memory performance, especially write/erase endurance, building on the results of the IBM/Yale University analysis outlined in Part 1 and Part 2.
Part 3 of this series of articles triggered by the recently published PCM device analysis by a team from IBM/Yale University, moves to a look at its possible implications for the arsenic doped GST threshold switch. Although the threshold switch was not part of the IBM/Yale work, the implementation of the call for bipolar operation of PCMs means there will be a requirement for a threshold switch whose durability matches that of the memory with which it will be associated in a memory array.
If the study’s finding for PCM can be applied to the arsenic-doped GST threshold switch which is used in today’s commercially-available PCM arrays then the threshold switch might just be the weak link that accounts for the poor endurance of commercial PCM memory arrays.
One little conundrum we must address is: Which Continue reading “Extending the Write/Erase Lifetime of Phase Change Memory: Part 3 – Failure Modes for the Threshold Switch”
Last year I stumbled upon something on the Internet that I thought would be fun to share. It’s the picture on the left from a 1978 book by Laurence Allman: Memory Design Microcomputers to Mainframes. The picture’s not too clear, but it is a predecessor to a graphic of the memory/storage hierarchy that The Memory Guy often uses to explain how various elements (HDD, SSD, DRAM) fit together.
On the horizontal axis is Access Time, which the storage community calls latency. The vertical axis shows cost per bit. The chart uses a log-log format: both the X and Y axes are in orders of magnitude. This allows a straight line to be drawn through the points that represent the various technologies, and prevent most of the technologies from being squeezed into the bottom left corner of the chart.
What I find fascinating about this graphic is not only the technologies that it includes but also the way that it’s presented. First, let’s talk about the technologies.
At the very top we have RAM: “TTL, ECL, and fast MOS static types.” TTL and ECL, technologies that are seldom Continue reading “Storage/Memory Hierarchy 40 Years Ago”
There has been quite a lot of interest over the past few days about the apparently-inadvertent disclosure by Intel of its server platform roadmap. Detailed coverage in The Platform showed a couple of slides with key memory information for the upcoming Purley server platform which will support the Xeon “Skylake” processor family. (A review of this post on 7/13/17 revealed that The Platform’s website has disappeared. The above link and the next one no longer work.)
One slide, titled: “Purley: Biggest Platform Advancement Since Nehalem” includes this post’s graphic, which tells of a memory with: “Up to 4x the capacity & lower cost than DRAM, and 500x faster than NAND.”
The Memory Guy puzzled a bit about what this might be. The only memory chip technology today with a cost structure lower than that of DRAM is NAND flash, and there is unlikely to be any technology within the leaked roadmap’s 2015-2017 time span that will change that. MRAM, ReRAM, PCM, FRAM, and other technologies can’t beat DRAM’s cost, and will probably take close to a decade to get to that point.
Since that’s the case, then what is this mystery memory? If we think of Continue reading “What Memory Will Intel’s Purley Platform Use?”
This year’s Kyoto Prizes included an Advanced Technology Prize for the father of DRAM, IBM’s Dr. Robert Dennard.
The Kyoto Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious accolades, is an international award bestowed once a year by The Inamori Foundation to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of humankind. Some say it is similar to the Nobel Prize, and seven Kyoto Prize laureates have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.
In addition to the kudos of receiving this honor, Denning was also Continue reading “DRAM Inventor Wins Kyoto Prize”
My prior 3D NAND post explained how Toshiba’s BiCS cell works, using a silicon nitride charge trap to substitute for a floating gate. This post will look at an alternative technology used by Samsung and Hynix which is illustrated in the first graphic, a diagram Samsung presented at a technical conference. This cell also uses a charge trap.
Let The Memory Guy warn you, if the process in my prior post seemed tricky, this one promises to put that one to shame!
Part of this stems from the use of a different kind of NAND bit cell. You can shrink flash cells smaller if you use a high-k gate dielectric (one with a high dielectric constant “k”) since it Continue reading “An Alternative Kind of Vertical 3D NAND String”
Let’s look at how one form of 3D NAND is manufactured. For this post we will explore the original design suggested by Toshiba at the IEEE’s International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM) in 2007. It’s shown in the first graphic of this post. (Click on any of the graphics for a better view.)
Toshiba calls this technology “BiCS” for “Bit Cost Scaling.” The technique doesn’t scale the process the way the world of semiconductors has always done to date – it scales the cost without shrinking the length and width of the memory cell. It accomplishes this by going vertically, as is shown in this post’s first graphic.
This takes a special effort. This is where the real Continue reading “3D NAND: Making a Vertical String”
Today Samsung announced that its chips are used exclusively to make up the 324-terabytes of DRAM in Germany’s new Leibniz Supercomputing Centre SuperMUC supercomputer.
Samsung’s release tells us that the SuperMUC, the most powerful supercomputer system in Europe, is an IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 M4 server built using over 18,000 Intel Xeon CPUs and over 80,000 4GB DRAM modules from Samsung. (Simple math makes this out to be 82,944 modules.)
That looks like a lot of silicon! Let’s see how much that might be.
A 4GB parity DRAM module would use nine 4Gb DRAM chips, which Samsung appears to Continue reading “Samsung DRAMs in Massive Leibniz SuperMUC”
In a December 1 press release IBM announced that the company will be manufacturing Micron Technology’s Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) which IBM claims to be “the first commercial CMOS manufacturing technology to employ through-silicon vias (TSVs).”
This device is one that Altera, Intel, Micron, Open Silicon, Samsung, and Xilinx have all presented recently as a plausible solution to the difficulty of increasing the speed of DRAM/processor communications. The Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium (HMCC) website offers a deep dive into the details of the consortium and the technology.
Continue reading “IBM to Build Micron Hybrid Memory Cube”