CES 2013: Micron demos DDR4 DIMMs, announces 20nm Crucial M500 SSDs at $0.60/GB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2013 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: micron, crucial, ces 2013, CES

At the Micron/Crucial, we were shown an expansion to their DDR3 memory line, to include lower profile parts:

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These reduced height modules should make for easier installation into HTPC and other small form factor PCs and even 1U Servers.

Next we saw DDR4 running at its native 2133 MHz speed. Here is what the DDR4 DIMM looks like:

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Note the slight bulge at the center of the pin area. This is to make installation easier, as there is a considerable increase in pin count, which would have made installation more difficult if not for that design feature. Note the increased contact density in this pic:

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Last (and most certainly not least), Micron announced their next SSD Series, the M500. This line uses a newer Marvell controller with Micron engineered firmware, driving 20nm IMFT flash:

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All models will employ the enterprise feature of a capacitor bank used to store some reserve power. This helps to minimize any possible data loss should power be interrupted while data is being written:

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Micron told me they are planning a 1TB model, running *MLC* flash (not TLC), and they are shooting for a price point of $600. That's $0.60/GB! If this scales down at the lower capacity points, we should be in for some pretty nice price dips in Solid State Storage for 2013!

 

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Micron is showing off how solid it's controllers and flash chips are

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: micron, ssd, PCIe SSD

Micron has really jumped into the SSD business, which makes sense given that they have been creating flash-based storage for quite a while now.  They do not feel that simply producing flash memory is enough however and have branched into storage controllers to not only make their SSDs faster but also to bring new functionality to them.  The Register recently witnessed a company presentation that discussed their plans for the near future as well as enlightening customers about existing products they may not be familiar with such as their PCIe SSD cards.  On the client side (read consumer) they will soon be releasing C400 series SSDs  using 29nm to 20nm process moving onto a sub-20nm process soon after that.  On the Enterprise side you will see the P400m SATA and P410m SAS arrive, both likely using a 25nm process.  Check out the full release and see what else Micron has in store for the competition.

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"The semiconductor-maker has flash foundries and delivers both solid state drives (SSDs) and PCIe-connected flash cards – the single level cell P320h for example, which is used by EMC in its VFCache product. A hot-swap version of the P320h has been adopted by Dell for server use."

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Source: The Register

The possibilty of rising DRAM prices got you down? Try PRAM instead!

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2012 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: phase, phase change memory, micron, 45nm

Phase Change Memory is not new, Allyn listened to Intel talk about a breakthrough in this technology almost three years ago, but it is not common on the market.  It offers two major benefits over the current RAM on the market, the first being its lack of volatility as the crystals it forms will remain even after power is cut off, the second is more dear to computer enthusiasts as it should be faster than DRAM.  It may seem odd that a technology which requires the formation of crystals would be faster than the electronic flipping of bits but Micron claims that the trickle of voltage supplied creates seed crystals which speed the formation process during write cycles. The good news is that we should see real world testing soon as The Inquirer has heard that Micron has a good supply of PRAM to sell which means benchmarks are not far behind.

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"MEMORY MAKER Micron has announced high volume availability of its 45nm phase change memory (PCM) chips.

Micron has been pushing the development of PCM chips with Intel for a number of years and is finally at a stage where it can offer chips to its customers. The firm announced that its 45nm PCM chips are available in a 1Gb PCM plus a 512Mb LPDDR2 package for mobile devices."

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Source: The Inquirer

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

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
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

Micron also looks to buy Elpida

Subject: General Tech, Memory, Mobile | May 12, 2012 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: micron, Elpida

Micron Technologies has confirmed that they are in talks to purchase Elpida Memory. Despite Toshiba pulling out of the race, the deal would have a rumored value of 2.51 Billion dollars. This deal would move Micron into the second largest DRAM producer, behind Samsung, with a 25 percent market share globally.

Elpida Memory, Inc. has been having troubles as a company for a couple of years.

Elpida was established as a company from its parent companies, NEC and Hitachi, in 1999 and took its current name the next year. Elpida has been delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in late March, a month after filing for Bankruptcy.

Multiple companies have come and gone in talks to purchase Elpida. Toshiba and SK hynix have somewhat recently pulled out of negotiations as the American TPG Capital LP and the Chinese Hony Capital shared a bid for the manufacturer.

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Or buy us and be #2 : D

Micron has just recently announced that they would place a bid for Elpida which, if completed, would push Micron past Hynix into the second largest DRAM producer by market share. Micron also seems to be interested in purchasing Elpida to access its mobile technology. While the actual bid is not public knowledge, it has been rumored to be worth around 2.51 billion dollars.

It may also be possible that none of the above deals would go through. Reuters reports that a group of debt holders for Elpida might push for their own plan if they feel that none of the current deals would suffice.

Source: Reuters

Micron beats JEDEC to DDR4

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: ddr4, jedec, micron

If you are not familiar with JEDEC you might not realize why they are constantly referred to when news breaks about a new technology; if that is the case you should aquaint yourself with them.  The standard for DDR4 is almost finalized with the specific changes being that the DIMM's VDDQ must remain constant at1.2V with plans to reduce VDD and speeds of 1.6 giga transfers per second to an initial objective of 3.2 giga transfers per second.  This seems low considering DDR3-2400 can hit 2.4GT/s so when it arrives we may see speeds cross over like DDR2 did when we saw DDR3 first come onto the stage.

Micron has fabbed 30nm DDR4 chips, both DIMM and SODIMM varieties which operate at the lower voltage.  The initial speed of 4Gbit/s that The Inquirer reports on may seem conservative but for this initial run we are only looking for a proof of concept which can be refined.  Micron expects to see production swing into gear by the end of 2012 but they may not have many customers as neither AMD nor Intel have DDR4 support scheduled by that time.

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"Although JEDEC has yet to finalise the DDR4 specification, Nanya and Micron have been forging ahead designing and now fabricating 30nm 4Gbit DDR4 chips that will be part of the two firms' DDR4 product range that will include registered and low-voltage registered DIMMs and SODIMMs. According to Micron, it is already sampling DDR4 modules and expects its customers to support quick implementation in 2013."

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Source: The Inquirer

Intel / Micron Flash Technology Venture Expands, Micron Assumes Two Plants

Subject: Storage | February 28, 2012 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: micron, Intel, imft, flash, fab

Earlier today we caught some news of Intel and Micron extending their joint agreement to develop and create flash memory under the IMFT name. Along with this extension came some rearrangements to the current plan. Intel will be selling off their stake in two of the smaller fabs, located in Singapore and Manassas, VA. The sale is for $600 million, half of which will stay with Micron as a credit that Intel can use to later purchase NAND flash produced from those factories.

The 'tip of the spear' IMFT fab located in Lehi, Utah, will remain jointly owned and operated. This makes good business sense as the Lehi fab is the first to shift to smaller process nodes. IMFT announced 25nm flash memory production at this very fab in early 2010.

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PC Perspective toured IMFT Utah during the 25nm launch announcement.

Some may see this as Intel taking a step away from flash memory, but I see it as quite the contrary. Micron has always tended towards being a bulk producer of memory products, while Intel are the promary innovators in the arena. This move allows Intel to focus on the bleeding edge plant while Micron handles the particulars of cranking out those technologies developed at the Lehi Plant. It is likely that the highest grade flash comes from the Lehi plant, and Intel's half of the output is more than enough to supply their SSD production lines.

Click to view full article for the press release.

Source: Micron

CES Storage Roundup Part 3 - Intel Cherryville and IMFT 20nm flash die spotted!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: ssd, micron, Intel, imft, flash, cherryville, CES, 20nm

CES is sort of like a Where's Waldo book. There are thousands of places to look, with new technology spread around all over the place. Some of that unreleased tech shows up right in front of you and you don't even realize what you were looking at until later on. It's how we caught a look at prototype Light Peak (now Thunderbolt) two years ago, and this year we saw some more goodies not previously seen in the wild. I tend to be a bit of a shutterbug, and I take seemingly random pics of things as the PCPer gang runs around the various vendor booths and hotel suites. While going through the pics from my phone, I ran across this shot of what I thought was an Intel 320 Series SSD:

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Definitely not a 320, that's an Intel 520 Series (Cherryville) SSD. While Intel had their 520 Series locked up tight at their Storage Visions booth, this one was powering another motherboard makers product elsewhere in Vegas. Unfortunately this system was only to demo the motherboard itself, without a connected display, so it would not have been possible to run our own benches.

At storage visions, we also saw this display at the Micron booth. It's interesting to see how 16GB of flash memory has shrunk over the past few years. We've certainly come a long way from the good old X25-M:

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Some of you may know that I'm a sucker for a good die shot, so I snuck back out to Micron's suite later on to get my own macro shot of the 20nm IMFT flash die:

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Micron is, like many other vendors, working on their own SSD solution specifically for SSD caching applications. It's currently unreleased, so more to follow on this.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

A look at CES 2012 through other peoples eyes

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 11, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: yoga, ultrabook, tablet, ocz, micron, Lenovo, kilimanjaro, CES

By now you should have hit our CES 2012 page, where all of our news coming out of CES is aggregated for you.   The sad truth is that PC Perspective has yet to conquer time and space, so we can only be in one place at a time which leads to missed appointments with vendors.  However, we are not the only tech site represented at CES 2012; for instance The Tech Report is running around Las Vegas as you read this.  So far they've seen a Lenovo laptop/netbook which knows Yoga, seen the heights that the combined team of OCZ and Micron can climb to and tablets with better than 1080p resolution.  They also weigh in on the similarities between Ultrabooks and a certain Apple product, as they are one of Intel's main focuses at this CES.

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PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Samsung and Micron Developing Hybrid Memory Cube Technology

Subject: Memory | October 7, 2011 - 08:52 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.