Cryogenic Memory and Interface Solutions
Rambus is researching opportunities to optimize memory and interface solutions for operation at cryogenic temperatures for future generation datacenters. In a manner similar to “Moore’s Law” memory systems have shown exponential improvements in energy efficiency, density and per-bit cost for decades. These gains have made possible the rapid growth in centralized computing commonly referred to as cloud computing. Recently, however the scaling of these metrics through conventional techniques has slowed, while at the same time demand for larger, faster data systems has increased by the proliferation of big data applications including data analytics and machine learning. Therefore the industry seeks step function changes in performance and cryogenic computing and/or quantum computing are potential breakthrough solutions that could lead to a new era in computing. The potential improvements in cycle time, power consumption, and higher compute density are all requirements for the most demanding applications and are all potential outcomes of our cryogenic research.
Overcoming Scaling Limits with Cryogenic Technology
The motivation for this work is to improve the energy efficiency and cost of ownership (COO) of memory systems in the data center, particularly by operating them at very cold temperatures. This work is an exploration to determine if there are sufficient energy saving opportunities or other advantages for memory systems operating at low temperatures. While energy consumption is a primary area of emphasis, bit density scaling, performance, cost per bit, and manufacturability may also benefit from reduced temperature and are being investigated. This would create an environment for potential computation speed increases at reduced power consumption. Today there are multiple public and private sector research projects around cryogenic computing as well as quantum computing. These efforts show high speed processes capable of manipulating large amounts of data, which creates a multiple order of magnitude gap in the speed at which data can be sent or received from that process. There is also a temperature gap between room temperature operation of current supercomputers (approximately 300K) and the operating temperature of a cryogenic core (4K). Rambus is seeking to close these gaps by designing and developing optimized memory sub-system solutions, capable of operating at 77K and interfacing to computers operating at liquid helium temperatures (4K).