Still no good news on the DRAM front

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, Samsung, SK Hynix, micron

The change process technology continues to have a negative effect on DRAM supplies and according to the story posted on Electronics Weekly there is no good news in sight.  The three major vendors, Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron are all slowing production as a result of new fabs being built and existing production lines upgraded for new process technology such as EUV.  This will ensure that prices continue to slowly creep up over the remainder of this year and likely into 2018.  Drop by for more information on the challenges each are facing.

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"While overall DRAM demand will remain high in 2018, new fabs being planned will not be ready for mass production until 2019 at the earliest."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Podcast #463 - AMD VEGA 64, Flash Memory Summit, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2017 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: video, T5, Samsung, RX VEGA 64, qualcomm, podcast, PC-Q39, P4800X, NX500, NGSFF, micron, Lian Li, Intel, EK Supremacy EVO, EDSFF, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #463 - 08/17/17

Join us for AMD Threadripper, Intel Rumors, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison, Sebastian Peak

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:37:18

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:26:30 Jeremy: caveat emptor
    2. 1:32:30 Ken: Prusa i3 MK2S 3D Printer (NOW IN STOCK!)
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Well that's not good, VGA RAM prices spike 30%

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2017 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, SK Hynix, micron, EVGA G3 850W

DigiTimes is the bearer of bad news for fans of GPUs, as the supply challenges which have marked 2017 are now spreading to GDDR5(x).  This month the price has spiked up just over 30% and that trend is going to continue into September and perhaps beyond.  This will not have an immediate effect on the MSRPs of graphics cards, not that we would notice due to the price inflation from the current mining craze however it will reduce the margins that NVIDIA and AMD receive from sales.  They do not specifically mention AMD in the article, nor HBM2, however the same companies fabricate both so there are likely to be repercussions felt by both technologies.  On the positive side, flash storage prices are reported to have stabilized; so we have that going for us.

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"August quotes for RAMs used in VGA graphics cards have risen to US$8.50, up by 30.8% from US$6.50 in July. Both RAM industry leaders Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have allocated part of their VGA RAM production capacities to producing memories for servers and handsets, fueling the price rally."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

FMS 2017: Micron Launches 9200 Series Enterprise Lineup with 3D TLC NAND, x8 PCIe

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 8, 2017 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: U.2, pcie, NVMe, micron, HHHL, FMS 2017, 9200, 3d nand

We were extremely impressed with the Micron 9100 Enterprise SSDs. They are still the fastest NAND flash SSDs we've tested to date, but they were built on planar NAND, and we know everyone is replacing their flat flash with more cost efficient 3D NAND. Same goes for the 9200:

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Highlights for the new models are IMFT 3D NAND running in TLC mode and a new controller capable of PCIe 3.0 x8 (HHHL form factor only - U.2 is only a x4 interface). Here are the detailed specs:

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Improvements for the x4 models are marginal upgrades over the 9100, but the x8 variants bump up the maximum performance to 900,000 IOPS and 5.5GB/s! These should be shipping by the end of the month, and we will review them as they come in.

Press blast after the break

Sadly not a NAND gate; even if some of these RAM rumours are false we are in for shortages

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: ram, micron, rumour, SK Hynix, toshiba

As is tradition, after we received hopeful news yesterday about Samsung's investing in the expansion of their flash production we now have bad news out of Micron.  DRAMeXchange reported a nitrogen leak in Micron's Taoyuan fab which prompted an evacuation and the possible stillbirth of ~60,000 wafer starts, or about 5.5% cut in the amount of RAM available by the end of the month.  Trendforce also reported the same incident and numbers

Micron has released a statement contradicting these stories, stating that while there was an incident, there was no real impact to the business or to employees.  One hopes that is the more accurate report as that particular Fab produces LPDDR4, which is already in high demand and short supply.  Indeed, another story mentions that SK Hynix and Toshiba's 3D NAND production was well below expectations and that the supply of NAND for iPhones may fall short by as much as 30%.

This would imply that any impact on Micron's RAM production, even if nowhere near the amount mentioned by the press, would have a large effect on the market in the coming quarters.  Samsung will certainly try to capture some of this demand, but the upgrades to their Fabs are still a while off and they are already operating at close to maximum capacity.   Fingers crossed we don't hear bad news from GLOFO tomorrow morning!

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"Micron Technology has issued a statement regarding recent reports about its fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Micron clarified that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuation of personnel. A minor event did occurred at the facility, but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Micron Pushes GDDR5X To 16Gbps, Expects To Launch GDDR6 In Early 2018

Subject: Memory | June 7, 2017 - 01:02 AM |
Tagged: micron, gddr6, gddr5x

JEDEC made the GDDR5X memory standard official almost a year and a half ago where it launched at 10 Gbps and quickly hit 12 Gbps. Set to bridge the gap between GDDR5 and the upcoming GDDR6, the “G5X” standard is quickly catching up to and matching the speeds that GDDR6 will run at.

Specifically, Micron’s Graphics Design Team in Munich was able to achieve an impressive 16 Gbps in their high speed test environment. The team was able to hit 16 Gbps on a “meaningful sampling” of its mass production GDDR5X silicon which makes the feat much more impressive as it means these higher speeds are moving closer to reality than theory. Micron measured a PRBS11 (psuedorandom binary sequence) pattern read at 16 Gbps using an oscilloscope and also showed off a chart that compared the stable data rate timing margin versus data rate from 10 Gbps to 16 Gbps.

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In addition to teasing the 16 Gbps memory speed (it will be awhile yet before we see products like graphics cards running memory at those speeds), Micron announced that it expects to being mass productions of GDDR6 chips in early 2018. GDDR6 will see a new (larger) FBGA1180 package, faster base sort speeds (GDDR6 will start at 12Gbps vs G5X's 10Gbps), and moving to a dual channel approach with channels that will have half as many I/O links (GDDR5X is x16/x32 while GDDR6 will be x8/16 per channel). It will be interesting to see how this move will stack up to G5X, but in theory Micron will be able to push clocks even higher (maybe even higher than 16 Gbps) by having more but simpler channels (and it may be easier for graphics card manufacturers to wire up their cards to the memory chips.

SK Hynix, who showed off its first GDDR6 chip at GTC, appears to be following the same I/O design as Micron with two channel memory at x8 or x16 per channel.

Are you ready for faster GDDR5X? Hopefully these new faster G5X chips come out soon to give AMD and NVIDIA a more appealing alternative to HBM and HBM2 for mid-range and high end consumer graphics cards since High Bandwidth Memory seems to still be suffering from limited supply and is holding the GPU guys back on being able to crank up the production lines!

Also read:

Source: Micron

Introduction, How PCM Works, Reading, Writing, and Tweaks

I’ve seen a bit of flawed logic floating around related to discussions about 3D XPoint technology. Some are directly comparing the cost per die to NAND flash (you can’t - 3D XPoint likely has fewer fab steps than NAND - especially when compared with 3D NAND). Others are repeating a bunch of terminology and element names without taking the time to actually explain how it works, and far too many folks out there can't even pronounce it correctly (it's spoken 'cross-point'). My plan is to address as much of the confusion as I can with this article, and I hope you walk away understanding how XPoint and its underlying technologies (most likely) work. While we do not have absolute confirmation of the precise material compositions, there is a significant amount of evidence pointing to one particular set of technologies. With Optane Memory now out in the wild and purchasable by folks wielding electron microscopes and mass spectrometers, I have seen enough additional information come across to assume XPoint is, in fact, PCM based.

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XPoint memory. Note the shape of the cell/selector structure. This will be significant later.

While we were initially told at the XPoint announcement event Q&A that the technology was not phase change based, there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and it is likely that Intel did not want to let the cat out of the bag too early. The funny thing about that is that both Intel and Micron were briefing on PCM-based memory developments five years earlier, and nearly everything about those briefings lines up perfectly with what appears to have ended up in the XPoint that we have today.

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Some die-level performance characteristics of various memory types. source

The above figures were sourced from a 2011 paper and may be a bit dated, but they do a good job putting some actual numbers with the die-level performance of the various solid state memory technologies. We can also see where the ~1000x speed and ~1000x endurance comparisons with XPoint to NAND Flash came from. Now, of course, those performance characteristics do not directly translate to the performance of a complete SSD package containing those dies. Controller overhead and management must take their respective cuts, as is shown with the performance of the first generation XPoint SSD we saw come out of Intel:

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The ‘bridging the gap’ Latency Percentile graph from our Intel SSD DC P4800X review.
(The P4800X comes in at 10us above).

There have been a few very vocal folks out there chanting 'not good enough', without the basic understanding that the first publicly available iteration of a new technology never represents its ultimate performance capabilities. It took NAND flash decades to make it into usable SSDs, and another decade before climbing to the performance levels we enjoy today. Time will tell if this holds true for XPoint, but given Micron's demos and our own observed performance of Intel's P4800X and Optane Memory SSDs, I'd argue that it is most certainly off to a good start!

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A 3D XPoint die, submitted for your viewing pleasure (click for larger version).

You want to know how this stuff works, right? Read on to find out!

Micron Launches SolidScale Platform Architecture, Consolidates NVMe in the Datacenter

Subject: Storage | May 24, 2017 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: SolidScale, NVMf, NVMe, micron, fabric, Cassandra

A few weeks back, I was briefed on Micron’s new SolidScale Architecture. This is essentially Micron’s off-the-shelf solution that ties together a few different technologies in an attempt to consolidate large pools of NVMe storage into a central location that can then be efficiently segmented and distributed among peers and clients across the network.

Traditionally it has been difficult to effectively utilize large numbers of SSDs in a single server. The combined IOPS capabilities of multiple high-performance PCIe SSDs can quickly saturate the available CPU cores of the server due to kernel/OS IO overhead incurred with each request. As a result, a flash-based network server would be bottlenecked by the server CPU during high IOPS workloads. There is a solution to this, and it’s simpler than you might think: Bypass the CPU!

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Read on for our deeper dive into Micron's SolidScale technology!

Source: Micron

Crucial expands their MX300 line of SSDs all the way up to 2TB

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2017 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: tlc, slc, MX300, micron, imft, Dynamic Write Acceleration, DWA, crucial, 3DNAND, 3d nand

Last June Al took a look at the Crucial MX300 750GB and its ability to switch its cache dynamically from TLC to SLC, helping Crucial improve how they implemented this feature along the way.  It proved to be a great value for the money; not the best performing drive but among the least expensive on the market.  Crucial has since expanded the lineup and Hardware Canucks took a look at the 2TB model.  This model has more than just a larger pool of NAND, the RAM cache has been doubled up to 1GB and the dynamic cache has more space to work in as well.  Take a look at this economy sized drive in their full review.

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"Crucial's newest MX300 series continues to roll on with a new 2TB version. This SSD may be one of the best when it comes to performance, price and capacity all combined into one package."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Micron Planning To Launch GDDR6 Graphics Memory In 2017

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 4, 2017 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: micron, graphics memory, gddr6

This year is shaping up to be a good year for memory with the promise of 3D XPoint (Intel/Micron), HBM2 (SK Hynix and Samsung), and now GDDR6 graphics memory from Micron launching this year. While GDDR6 was originally planned to be launched next year, Micron recently announced its intentions to start producing the memory chips by the later half of 2017 which would put it much earlier than previously expected.

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Computer World reports that Micron is citing the rise of e-sports and gaming driving the computer market that now sees three year upgrade cycles rather than five year cycles (I am not sure how accurate that is, however as it seems like PCs are actually lasting longer between upgrade as far as relevance but i digress) as the primary reason for shifting GDDR6 production into high gear and moving up the launch window. The company expects the e-sports market to grow to 500 million fans by 2020, and it is a growing market that Micron wants to stay relevant in.

If you missed our previous coverage, GDDR6 is the successor to GDDR5 and offers twice the bandwidth at 16 Gb/s (gigabits per second) per die. It is also faster than GDDR5X (12 Gb/s) and uses 20% less power which the gaming laptop market will appreciate. HBM2 still holds the bandwidth crown though as it offers 256 GB/s per stack and up to 1TB/s with four stacks connected to a GPU on package.

As such, High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2 and then HBM3) will power the high end gaming and professional graphics cards while GDDR6 will become the memory used for mid range cards and GDDR5X (which is actually capable of going faster but will likely not be pushed much past 12 Gbps after all if GDDR6 does come out this soon) will replace GDDR5 on most if not all of the lower end products.

I am not sure if Micron’s reasoning of e-sports, faster upgrade cycles, and VR being the motivating factor(s) to ramping up production early is sound or not, but I will certainly take the faster memory coming out sooner rather than later! Depending on exactly when in 2017 the chips start rolling off the fabs, we could see graphics cards using the new memory technology as soon as early 2018 (just in time for CES announcements? oh boy I can see the PR flooding in already! hehe).

Will Samsung change course as well and try for a 2017 release for its GDDR6 memory as well?

Are you ready for GDDR6?