That RAM is stacked

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2013 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: DRAM, HMC, hybrid memory cubes, micron, TSV

Hybrid Memory Cubes are DRAM stacked in layers with logic on the bottom layer to decide which memory layer to address commands to whic is being developed by a team that includes Altera, ARM, IBM, SK Hynix, Micron, Open-Silicon, Samsung and Xilinix.  This is intended to give DRAM enhanced parallelization which will help it keep up with today's multi-cored processors.  Micron's example which the Register takes a look at here claims up to 10 GB/sec (80 Gb/sec) of bandwidth from each of the 16 vaults present on the chip, a vault being an area of memory on a layer.  That compares favourably to the maximum theoretical JEDEC speed of DDR3-1333 which is just a hair over 10GB/s.  Read more here.

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"Dratted multi-core CPUs. DRAM is running into a bandwidth problem. More powerful CPUs has meant that more cores are trying to access a server’s memory and the bandwidth is running out.

One solution is to stack DRAM in layers above a logic base layer and increase access speed to the resulting hybrid memory cubes (HMC), and Micron has done just that."

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Source: The Register

SK Hynix Will Resume DRAM Production At Chinese Plant Soon

Subject: Memory | September 6, 2013 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: manufacturing plant, Hynix, DRAM

SK Hynix experienced a fire at one of its DRAM manufacturing plants in Wuxi, China on September 4th. Initial reports suggested that the plant would need major repairs as the large black smoke cloud above the facility appeared rather ominous. Because the plant is responsible for approximately 40% of Hynix's DRAM output (which amounts to 12% of global DRAM supply), the plant shutting down for repairs would have severely disrupted the memory market and pricing of both individual chips and memory modules.

Fortunately, the fire was much less severe than it appeared. SK Hynix recently released a statement indicating that the fire was concentrated in the air purification hardware connected to the rooftop which resulted in the large smoke plumes. There was “no material damage” to the machinery used on the manufacturing floor in the production of DRAM chips. The damage was relatively minor and the facility will resume production shortly following minor repairs.

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SK Hynix manufactures DRAM and flash memory chips.

A SK Hynix spokesperson Seongae Park was quoted by Bit-Tech in stating that “we expect to resume operations in a short time period.” Also, Hynix indicated that its overall supply volume and DRAM production would not see a major drop.

This is good news for PC OEMs and enthusiasts as it means prices for the chips and resulting hardware should not spike and will stabilize sooner than originally expected.

Source: Bit-Tech

Say farewell to the days of RAM deals

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2013 - 10:25 AM |
Tagged: ddr3, DRAM

It looks like the days of cheap RAM may be coming to a close, not just for the consumer but also for manufacturers of graphics cards, cellphones and anything else with onboard RAM.  What began as a slow rise in prices is now becoming a shortage, something guaranteed to bring prices up.  In Acer's case they will be out of stock by the end of the month while ASRock stockpiled RAM in this quarter to retain supplies to sell over the coming quarter.  As DigiTimes points out, competition is going to become fierce and you can expect both lower supplies and higher prices on the new components you want to buy over the summer.

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"Commenting on the issue, Acer chairman JT Wang pointed out that DRAM prices are likely to continue rising as many DRAM makers have switched their production lines to manufacturing smartphone DRAM, leaving insufficient capacity to supply the PC industry. Even If DRAM makers decide to switch back capacity, it will still take about 3-4 months for the process to be completed, Wang said."

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Source: DigiTimes

Bad news GPU fans, prices may be climbing

Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: gpu, DRAM, ddr3, price increase

It has taken a while but the climbing price of memory is about to have an effect on the price you pay for your next GPU.  DigiTimes does specifically mention DDR3 but as both GDDR4 and GDDR5 are based off of DDR3 they will suffer the same price increases.  You can expect to see the new prices last as part of the reason for the increase in the price of RAM is the decrease in sales volume.  AMD may be hit harder overall than NVIDIA as they tend to put more memory on their cards and buyers of value cards might see the biggest percentage increase as those cards still sport 1GB or more of memory.

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"Since DDR3 memory prices have recently risen by more than 10%, the sources believe the graphics cards are unlikely to see their prices return to previous levels within the next six months unless GPU makers decide to offer promotions for specific models or launch next-generation products."

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Source: DigiTimes

DRAM makers emulate the HDD business by devouring the competition

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2013 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: DRAM, micron, ssd, Samsung, Hynix

It is perhaps not obvious to many because of the huge number of DRAM resellers but there are only three major manufacturers of DRAM left at this point.  Apart from Micron, who claim top spot in this article on The Register, Samsung and Hynix are the only other big players left supplying DRAM.  Considering the instability of memory and SSD pricing it seems odd that it is a component with only three possible sources, the instability could be coming from the fact that many of the mergers are still rather recent or in the case of Elpida, not quite complete yet.  One very interesting comment from Kipp Bedard, Micron's investor relations VP, might also explain the volatilty of flash, "there simply isn't enough NAND fab capacity to store even 20 per cent of the data people are generating."   If demand outstrips supply by that order of magnitude you can dictate almost any price you wish.

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"When I first started at Micron, there were about 40 to 50 DRAM companies in the space," said Bedard. "And we spent most of the '80s with the Japanese deciding they wanted to own the DRAM space which they went from 10 per cent market share to about 90 per cent, [and] took all of the US companies out except for two, us and Texas Instruments."

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Source: The Register

Micron goes on a spending spree, picks up Elpida and a big majority of Rexchip shares

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2012 - 11:07 AM |
Tagged: purchase, billions, micron, Elpida, rexchip, powerchip, DRAM, flash

Micron has been very busy lately, spending $2.5 billion USD to purchase Elpida and another $334 million USD to purchase another 24% of DRAM maker Rexchip from Powerchip.  The latter of those purchases gives Micron a total of 89% of the existing shares of Rexchip which may not give them outright ownership of Rexchip but gives them such a huge majority that they can determine the outcome of any vote which is presented to shareholders.  Rexchip brings a single 300mm Fab working on 30nm process to the table, which gives Micron a bit more manufacturing capability to utilize for what is likely to be a busy season for them.

The Elpida purchase is much bigger for both the industry and Micron, especially as they decided to buy the company outright instead of purchasing a subsidiary or only the IP of Elpida.  Instead the company will remain intact for the near future though there will likely be changes to the executive structure as they are integrated with Micron.  Not only does this purchase give them access to all property, intellectual or physical, that Elpida currently possesses it give Micron an in at Apple as it was Elpida that supplied much of the chips used by Apple.  That would put Micron in the enviable position of supplying both PC and Apple products.  DigiTimes breaks down the deal here.

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"Micron Technology and Elpida Memory's trustees have signed a definitive sponsor agreement for Micron to acquire Elpida, according to the US memory chipmaker. The agreement has been entered into in connection with Elpida's corporate reorganization proceedings conducted under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo District Court.

Micron revealed that under the agreement, JPY200 billion (US$2.5 billion) total consideration and less certain reorganization proceeding expenses will be used to satisfy the reorganization claims of Elpida's secured and unsecured creditors. Micron will acquire 100% of the equity of Elpida for JPY60 billion to be paid in cash at closing."

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Source: DigiTimes

Samsung and Micron Developing Hybrid Memory Cube Technology

Subject: Memory | October 7, 2011 - 05:52 AM |
Tagged: memory, hybrid memory cube, HMC, micron, Intel, Samsung, ram, DDR, DRAM

Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics, in cooperation with Intel, Altera Corporation, Open Silicon, and Xilinx among others have formed the “Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium” to develop and encourage adoption of a new storage interface specification. This new storage technology is based on Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) technology, which is comprised of PCB, a thin logic layer, and stacks of DRAM chips. These memory chips are stacked vertically on top of one another and connected via TSV.

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A mock up of a HMC (Source: CNET)

According to Tech Connect Magazine, Micron’s Vice President for DRAM Marketing is quoted in stating “HMC brings a new level of capability to memory that provides exponential performance and efficiency gains.” Hybrid Memory Cube technology is claimed to be capable of using 70% less power than current DDR3 memory modules (DIMMs) while being up to 15 times faster.

Reinforcing Micron’s position is Intel’s CTO Justin Rattner who talked very highly of the technology and it’s massive bandwidth and I/O improvements versus traditional DDR style memory designs. The Hybrid Memory Cube is capable of sustained transfer rates of 1 terabit per second, and is “the most energy efficient DRAM ever built” by a bits transferred per amount of energy consumed.

Both Intel and Micron have expressed that the HMC technology will be a boon for data centers and high performance computing that demands low power and high bandwidth memory storage. Assuming the numbers pan out, the Hybrid Memory Cube will be quite a leap in memory efficiency and will further accelerate adoption rates of so called “cloud” applications as well as more efficient high performance servers used in scientific research endeavors. All in all, the idea of the Hybrid Memory Cube is cool stuff, and it will be interesting to see if the actual memory will live up to its grandeur name.