Writing for SemiconductorEngineering, Ed Sperling reports that long-awaited DDR4 rollouts have begun. Indeed, a slew of consumer-centric motherboards packing Intel’s X99 chipset and DDR4 memory were reviewed by AnandTech’s Ian Cutress in late September.
In addition, a number of companies recently introduced a range of servers powered by Intel’s new 18-core Xeon E5-2600 v3 (Grantley) chip. The servers – designed by Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo and IBM – are loaded with DDR4 memory.
Similarly, AppliedMicro and Hewlett-Packard launched the first commercially available 64-bit ARMv8 server at ARM TechCon in October. Dubbed the ProLiant m400, the cartridge is specifically designed to fit HP’s Moonshot server framework. The new server – targeted at web caching workloads – is based on AppliedMicro’s X-Gene System-on-a-Chip (SoC) and runs Canonical’s versatile Ubuntu operating system.
According to Frank Ferro, a Senior Director of Product Management at Rambus, DDR4 will likely be around for quite a while. As Ferro explains, one of the primary advantages of DRAM is its versatility allowing it to be used across platforms – from servers to consumer electronics – which makes it difficult to replace the memory standard.
However, says Ferro, there are a number of next-gen technologies that can be implemented to bolster performance. One evolutionary approach uses low-swing, point-to-point signaling between the processor and DRAM to minimize loss, rather than relying on a multi-drop topology paradigm. This more efficient approach requires a reduced amount of power to drive signals and helps facilitate easy integration with timing and equalization built into the PHY.
“What we’re talking about is a conventional approach to DRAM but up to double the performance,” Ferro told SemiconductorEngineering.
It should be noted that DRAM led all semiconductors in 2014 with revenue growth of 26.3 percent – and is expected to reach all-time revenue high of $44.1 billion for the year. To be sure, DRAM is packed into an increasingly wide range of devices – HDTV, STB, and tablets – in addition to traditional PCs and laptops. Growth in demand coupled with stable prices means that DRAM revenue will increase 26% in 2014, after already rising ~30% from 2012 to 2013.
“In addition to the rise of mobile, we are also seeing a large amount of DRAM growth in datacenters and consumer electronics, which have grown 30% to 50% in the last year,” Loren Shalinsky, a Strategic Development Director at Rambus, added.