The fix was in, hope you saved those 14 year old receipts

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2014 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, micron, Hynix, infineon, nec, toshiba, ram, dirty pool

If you bought RAM between 1998 and 2002 from Samsung, Micron, Hynix, Infineon, NEC, and Toshiba in the USA, you are entitled to a small payout, assuming you have proof of purchase.  The DRAM makers never admitted guilt and chose to settle out of court and you have until August 1st to follow the link in The Inquirer's story to put in a claim.  If you wish to opt out and sue them yourself you have until May 5th to do so but you might be better off taking the $10.

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"Remember getting hosed on those 128MB DIMM RAM sticks back in Y2K? Well, it's time to exact your revenge: with a $10 payout."

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2014: Micron makes further advances in DDR4 memory

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 12:57 AM |
Tagged: ram, micron, memory, ddr4, CES 2014, CES

While the Crucial did not have much in the way of new flash memory product launches this year, Micron as a whole has been busily churning out further revisions of DDR4 memory. While our visit last year only revealed a single prototype for us to look at, now we have all of the typical form factors covered:

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From top down we have enterprise, enthusiast, OEM, and SO-DIMM form factors, all populated with DDR4 parts. All that needs to happen now is for motherboard and portable manufacturers to get on board with the new technology. As with all chicken-and-egg launches, someone needs to take the first plunge, and here we can see Micron has certainly been on the leading edge of things. That enterprise part above is a full 16GB (not bits!) of DDR4 capacity.

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Source: Micron DRAM

That RAM is stacked

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2013 - 01:48 PM |
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

Dell Unveils New T3610, T5610, and T7610 Workstations

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 9, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, workstation, quadro, micron, LSI, k6000, Ivy Bridge-EP, firepro, dell

Along with the release of new mobile workstations, Dell announced three new desktop workstations. Specifically, Dell is launching the T3610, T5610, and T7610 PC workstations under its Precision series. The new systems reside in redesigned cases with improved cable management, removable power supplies (tool-less, removable by sliding out from rear panel), and in the case of the T7610 removable hard drives. All of the new Precision workstations have been outfitted with Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-EP based Xeon processors, ECC memory, workstation-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, Xeon Phi accelerator card options, LSI hardware RAID controllers, and updated software solutions from Intel and Dell.

Dell Precision T3610 T5610 T7610.jpg

The new Precision workstations side-by-side. From left to right: T3610, T5610, and T7610.

Dell's Precision T3610 is a the mid-tower system of the group powered by single socket Xeon E5-2600 v2 hardware that further supports up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two graphics cards, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” SSDs.

Dell Precision T3610 Single Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

The Precision T3610, a new single socket, mid-range workstation.

The Precision T5610 ups the ante to a dual socket IVB-EP processor system that can be configured with up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. Quadro K5000) graphics cards, a Tesla K20C accelerator card, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” solid state drives.

Finally, the T7610 workstation supports dual Intel Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors (up to 24 cores per system), up to 512GB DDR3 ECC memory, three graphics cards (including two NVIDIA Quadro K6000 cards), four 3.5” hard drives, and eight 2.5” SSDs.

Dell Precision T5610 Dual Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

Dell's Precision T5610 dual socket workstation.

The new Precision workstations can also be configured with an Intel Xeon Phi 3120A accelerator card in lieu of a Tesla card. The choice will mainly depend on the applications being used and the development resources and expertise available. Both options are designed to accelerate highly parallel workloads in applications that have been compiled to support them. Further, users can add an LSI hardware RAID card with 1GB of onboard memory to the systems. Dell further offers a Micron P320h PCI-E SSD that, while not bootable, offers up 350GB of high performance storage that excels at high sequential reads and writes.

On the software front, Dell is including the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer and the Intel Cache Acceleration Software. The former automatically configures and optimizes the workstation for specific applications based on profiles that are reportedly regularly updated. The other bit of software works to optimize systems that use both hard drives and SSDs with the SSDs as a cache for the mechanical storage. The Intel Cache Acceleration Software configures the caching algorithms to favor caching very large files on the solid state storage. It is a different approach to consumer caching strategies, but one that works well with businesses that use these workstations to process large data sets.

Dell Precision T7610 Dual Xeon Ivy Bridge-EP Workstation.jpg

The Dell Precision T7610 workstation.

The Dell workstations are aimed at businesses doing scientific analysis, professional engineering, and complex 3D modeling. The T7610 in particular is aimed at the oil and gas industry for use in simulations and modeling as companies search for new oil deposits.

All three systems will be available for purchase worldwide beginning September 12th. Some of the options, such as 512GB of ECC and the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 on the T7610 will not be available until next month, however. The T3610 has a starting price of $1,099 while the T5610 and T7610 have starting prices of $2,729 and $3,059 respectively.

What are your thoughts on Dell's new mid-tower workstations?

Source: Dell

Micron Is Now Sampling 16nm NAND Flash, And Drives Using the Smaller Chips Are Expected in 2014

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 18, 2013 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: nand, micron, flash, 16nm

Micron recently announced that is has begun sampling 16nm NAND flash to select partners. Micron expects to begin full production of the NAND chips using the smaller flash manufacturing process in the fourth quarter of this year (Q4 2013). Drives based on its new 16nm MLC NAND flash are expected to arrive as early as next year. (PC Perspective's own storage expert is currently overseas, but I managed to reach out over email to get some clarification, and his thoughts, on the Micron annuoncement.)

The announcement relates to new NAND flash that is smaller, but not necessarily faster, than the existing 20nm and 25nm flash chips used in current solid state drives. In the end, Micron is still delivering 128Gb (Gigabit) per die, but using a 16nm process. The 16nm flash is a pure shrink of 20nm which is, in turn, a shrink of 25nm flash. In fact, Micron is able to get just under 6 Terabytes of storage out of a single 300mm wafer. These wafers are then broken down into dies in individual flash chips that are used in all manner of solid state storage devices from smartphone embedded storage to desktop SSDs. This 16nm flash still delivers 128Gb --which is 16GB-- per die allowing for a 128GB SSD using as few as eight chips.

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A single 16nm NAND flash die with a SSD in the background

Micron expects the 16nm MLC (multi-level cell) flash to be used in consumer SSDs, USB thumb drives, mobile devices, and cloud storage.

The 16nm process will allow Micron to get more storage out of the same sized wafer (300mm) used for current processes, which in theory should mean flash memory that is not only smaller, but (in theory) cheaper.

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A single wafer of 16nm NAND flash (just under 6TBs)

As Allyn further notes, the downside to the new 16nm NAND flash is a reduction in the number of supported PE cycles. Micron has not released specific information on this, but the new 16nm MLC flash is expected to have fewer than 1,000 P/E cycles. For comparison, 25nm and 20nm flash has P/E cycles of 3,000 and 1,000 respectively.

In simple terms, P/E (program-erase) cycles relate to the number of times that a specific portion of flash memory can be written to before wearing out. SSD manufacturers were able to work around this with the transition from 25nm to 20nm and still deliver acceptable endurance on consumer drives, and I expect that similar techniques will be used to do the same for 16nm flash. For example, manufactuers could enable compression that is used prior to writing out the data to the physical flash or over-provisioning the actual hardware versus the reported software capacity (ie a drive sold as a 100GB model that actually has 128GB of physical flash).

I don't think it will be a big enough jump that typical consumers wil have to worry too much about this, considering the vast majority of operations will be read operations and not writes. Despite the reduction in P/E cycles, SSDs with 16nm NAND MLC flash will still likely out-last a typical mechanical hard drive.

What do you think about the Micron announcement?

The full press release can be found below:

Source: Micron

Micron puts a suit and tie on its newest PCIe SSD

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: micron, PCIe SSD, P420m, 25nm, mlc

Soon to be available in 350GB, 700GB and 1.4TB capacities, the Micron P420m PCIe SSD will be in a half-height and half-length form factor perfect for use in racks.  DigiTimes mentions it will use a custom ASIC controller from Micron but does not specify the model.  As will it will use 25nm MLC flash and XPERT, which is Micron's eXtended Performance and Enhanced Reliability Technology which should guarantee a decent lifespan for your storage.  Production will not start until June so it will be a while before we finally see performance results.

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"The new Micron P420m combines consistent performance with the inherent power efficiency of an all-flash system to deliver improved economics for enterprise data centers. The drive accelerates performance of today's demanding data center applications, including online transaction processing (OLTP), data warehousing and virtualization, Micron said."

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Source: DigiTimes

Is there a Flash flood coming?

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2013 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: spintronics, racetrack, pram, molybdenum, micron, memristor, IBM, hp, graphene, flash

Over the past several years we have seen actual production of phase change memory from Micron, though no benchmarks yet, transistors whose resistance can be altered to be used as non-volatile storage which HP has dubbed Memristors and IBM's Spintronic Racetrack Memory; all of which claim to be the replacement for NAND.  There is no question we need a new type of flash, preferably non-volatile, as it is likely that there will be a limit on effective speed and density reached with traditional NAND.  It is also true that the path to our current flash technology is littered with the carcasses of failed technology standards, whether RAMBUS is willing to admit it or not. 

Now there is more details available on yet another possible contender based on molybdenum disulfide which sports a charge-trapping layer to make it non-volatile.  The Register was told that by layering MoS2 between layers of graphene they get a NAND cell smaller than traditional cells but unfortunately there was no report of the speed of these cells.  We may soon be living in interesting times, with process shrunk traditional flash and these four technologies competing for market share.  You can bet that they will not be compatible and that each will likely spawn their own breeds of controllers and make purchasing SSDs and other flash storage devices much more complicated, at least until one standard can claim victory over the others.

elreg_mos2_graphene_nvm_cell.jpg

"A Swiss government research lab has reinvented flash memory using graphene and molybdenite in a way that should be faster, scale smaller, use less energy and yet more flexible than boring old NAND.

Molybdenite is MoS2, molybdenum disulfide, which is similar to graphite and also has a lubricating effect. Atomically it is a layer of molybdenum atoms between top and bottom layers of sulfide atoms. It is a semiconductor and can be used to create transistor."

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Source: The Register

DRAM makers emulate the HDD business by devouring the competition

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
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 SAS SSDs, solid state for the enterprise grows up

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2013 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: ssd, enterprise ssd, SAS, micron, micron p410m

Micron has announced a new SSD, the P410 SSD which will use a Serial Attached SCSI interface, perfect for dropping into existing enterprise servers.  SATA is perfectly fine for SOHO users and enthusiasts but for large businesses with a need for extreme reliability, SAS has been the interface of choice.  Adoption of SSDs has been slowed in large businesses in part because it would require changing the existing architecture to SATA in order to incorporate SSDs into their systems.  With the new Micron drive that is no longer necessary, at 7mm it will support high density servers and with the 25nm MLC NAND it is expected to survive for five years of duty with 10 full drive fills every day.  Read more at DigiTimes.

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"Micron Technology has announced another addition to its growing lineup of solid state drives (SSDs) targeted at data center appliances and enterprise storage platforms. The new Micron P410m SSD is a high-endurance, high reliability 6Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drive built to provide the performance necessary for mission-critical tier one storage applications that require uninterrupted, 24/7 data access."

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Source: DigiTimes

NVDIMM: Nonvolatile... Not NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech, Memory, Systems | February 10, 2013 - 03:44 AM |
Tagged: NVDIMM, micron, IMFT NAND, imft

So a RAM chip, a NAND module, and an “ultracapacitor” walk into stick...

This week Micron released a press blast for technology called, “NVDIMM”. The goal is to create memory modules which perform as quickly as DRAM but can persist without power. At this point you could probably guess the acronym: Nonvolatile Dual In-line Memory Module. It has been around for a few years now, but it is in the news now so let's chat about it.

I often like to play the game, “Was this named by an engineer or a marketer?” You can typically tell who was responsible for naming something by gauging how literally it breaks down into a simple meaning versus not having any apparent meaning at all. A good example of an engineer name is UHF, which breaks down into ultra-high frequency because it's higher than VHF, very-high frequency. A good example of a marketing name would be something like “Centrino”, which sounds like the biggest little penny-slot machine in the world. I would quite comfortable guessing that NVDIMM was named by an engineer.

NVDIMM.jpg

This is AgigA Tech's module, who provides the capacitors for Micron and their NVDIMMs.

The actual makeup of NVDIMMs is quite sensible: DIMMs are fast but die when the power goes out. You could prevent the power from going out but it takes quite a lot of battery life to keep a computer online for extended periods of time. NAND Flash is quite slow, relative to DIMMs, in normal operation but can persist without power for very long periods of time. Also, modern-day capacitors are efficient and durable enough to keep DIMMs powered for long enough to be copied to flash memory.

As such, if the power goes out: memory is dumped to flash on the same chip. When power is restored, DIMMs get reloaded and continue on their merry way.

According to the Micron press release, the first NVDIMM was demonstrated last November at SC12. That module contained twice as much NAND as it did DIMM memory: 8GB of Flash for 4GB of RAM. Micron did not specify why they required having that much extra Flash memory although my gut instinct is to compensate for write wearing problems. A two-fold increase to offset NAND that had just one too many write operations seems like quite a lot compared to consumer drives. That said, SSDs do not have to weather half of their whole capacity being written to each time the computer shuts down.

Who knows, double-provisioning might even be too little in practice.

Source: Micron