There’s never been a more exciting time for emerging memory technologies. New memory types like PCM, MRAM, ReRAM, FRAM, and others have been waiting patiently, sometimes for decades, for an opportunity to make a sizeable markets of their own. Today it appears that their opportunity is very near.
Some of these memory types are already being manufactured in volume, and the established niches that these chips sell into can provide good revenue. But the market is poised to experience a very dramatic upturn as advanced logic processing nodes drive sophisticated processors and ASICs to adopt emerging persistent memory technologies. Meanwhile Intel has started to aggressively promote its new 3D XPoint memory for use as a persistent (nonvolatile) memory layer for advanced computing. It’s no wonder that SNIA, JEDEC, and other standards bodies, along with the Linux community and major software firms are working hard to implement the necessary standards and ecosystems to support widespread adoption of the persistent nature of these new technologies.
This post introduces a Continue reading “Emerging Memories Today: New Blog Series”
This is Part 4 of a series contributed by Ron Neale to the Memory Guy blog, in which Ron looks into some important detailed analytical work by a joint team at IBM and Yale University which might point to the way of achieving improved PCM endurance.
I want, in this final part, to focus on its possible implications for commercial PCM products.
When Intel and Micron first introduced 3D XPoint Memory the companies claimed that it would be 1,000 times as fast as flash memory with 1,000 times the endurance at ten times the density of standard memory (meaning DRAM). Now that Intel’s XPoint-based Optane SSDs have been released and their specifications are public we can estimate what the technology’s endurance might be.
The table below, explained in another Memory Guy blog post, gives estimates of best-case endurance for the cells in the XPoint memory in Optane SSDs. In other words, with a sophisticated enough controller, good DRAM buffering, and overprovisioning, all of which are techniques commonly used to extend the life of the media in a NAND flash SSD, the cell lifetime could be significantly lower than that shown in the last column of the table and the SSD would still provide the specified endurance. (These techniques are explained in detail in an SSD Guy blog post series for anyone who is interested in understanding them.)
As the calculated Continue reading “Extending the Write/Erase Lifetime of Phase Change Memory: Part 4 – The Possible Implications for 3D XPoint and Optane”
This is Part 2 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.
After, in Part 1, summarizing the methodology my next step was to try to bring together in another simple diagram all the detail of the complexity of the movement of the different elements of the phase change memory material at different locations within the memory cell which the IBM/Yale work has disclosed. Movement which leads to the conclusion that bi-polar operation would be means of extending PCM endurance.
In this post’s first diagram (below) the central region provides illustration of the paper’s unique PCM device structure: A high aspect ratio tapered cell lined with a metal conductor. With the two-state memory switching region located (red coloured) roughly at the centre of the taper. This means that, Continue reading “Extending the Write/Erase Lifetime of Phase Change Memory: Part 2 – A More Complete View of Element Separation”
This is the first of a new line-up of Memory Guy posts by Ron Neale. In this 4-part series Ron takes a look at the recently-published analysis by a team from IBM and Yale University (Wiley: Communications of Advanced Materials, Volume 30, Issue 9, March 1, 2018 “Self-Healing of a Confined Phase Change Memory Device with a Metallic Surfactant Layer,” Xie et al) which has cast some new light on the complexity of the movement and element separation in phase change memory (PCM) device structures.
In this series of articles I will briefly review what I think is an important piece of work and its implications for the future of PCM write/erase (w/e) endurance in commercial PCM memory arrays. Today’s production Phase-Change Memory, the basis of the Intel/Micron 3D XPoint Memory, wears out faster than expected. This series will investigate some of the potential reasons for this discrepancy.
Back in 2016 a research team led by IBM claimed the world record for PCM w/e endurance of greater than 2 x 10E12 cycles (ALD-based Confined PCM with a Metallic Liner Toward Unlimited Endurance, Proc IEDM 2016 ). As of today commercially available PCM memory arrays offer w/e endurance of some six orders of magnitude less. The table below Continue reading “Extending the Write/Erase Lifetime of Phase Change Memory: Part 1- PCM Element Separation and Endurance”
There has been a lot of discussion in the trade press lately about new memory technologies. This is with good reason: Existing memory technologies are approaching a limit after which bits can’t be shrunk any smaller, and that limit would put an end to Moore’s Law.
But there are even more compelling reasons for certain applications to convert from today’s leading technologies (like NAND flash, DRAM, NOR flash, SRAM, and EEPROM) to one of these new technologies, and that is the fact that the newer technologies all provide considerable energy savings in computing environments.
Objective Analysis has just published a white paper that can be downloaded for free which addresses a number of these technologies. The white paper explains why energy is wasted with today’s technologies and how these new memory types can dramatically reduce energy consumption.
It also provides a Continue reading “Latest White Paper: New Memories for Efficient Computing”
Micron Technology has introduced a 32GB NVDIMM-N. Perhaps the most important thing about this device is not so much its high density as the fact that it runs at higher bus speeds than competing NVDIMMs, doing 2933 megatransfers per second (MT/s), a speed that Micron representatives tell us is required to support Intel’s Skylake processor.
Up to this point NVDIMM-Ns have been limited to 2400 MT/s, which is fast enough for Broadwell, but which misses the mark for Skylake. Design is tricky even at this slower speed, requiring a number of expensive high-speed multiplexers in the DRAM’s critical speed path.
“Multiplexers?” Yes, NVDIMMs use them, even though no other kind of DIMM does. The Memory Guy can explain why, having just finished a report covering the NVDIMM market and technology.
Here’s a little refresher for those who either don’t remember or never knew that NVDIMM-N requires multiplexers. The NVDIMM-N looks to the system like a standard Continue reading “Micron’s Super-Fast New 32GB NVDIMM”
The Memory Guy, as a regular reader of The SSD Guy’s posts, found an interesting one that compares the endurance of Optane SSDs against that of NAND flash SSDs. Perhaps this could provide some insight into the Intel & Micron claim that 3D XPoint Memory’s endurance is 1,000 times that of standard NAND flash, shown in the graphic to the left.
The SSD Guy post converts several different measures of SSD endurance against each other: TBW, DWPD, and GB/Day. Definitions of these terms can be found in that post.
It occurred to me that any of these can be used to roughly gauge the relative endurance of 3D XPoint Memory against that of NAND flash.
Take DWPD for example: Drive Writes per Day. Not only is this a measure of how many times that an SSD can be over-written every day, but it’s also an indication of the number of times that each memory cell can be overwritten. If you know this, and if you know how long Continue reading “Examining 3D XPoint’s 1,000 Times Endurance Benefit”
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?”