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Lower-voltage DDR2 DRAMs target data center apps

Posted: 01 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low voltage DDR2 DRAM? 1.5V DDR2 DRAM? IC energy efficiency?

Lauer: Aspen memory reduces power in data centers by up to 24 percent.

Micron Technology Inc. launched in April what it claims to be the industry's first low-voltage DDR2 DRAM in reduced chip count (RCC) memory modules. The first member of Micron's new Aspen Memory product line boasts an operating voltage of 1.5V, down from the 1.8V of today's typical DDR2 components.

"The 1.5V part features the standard DDR2 interface. It does everything that the standard part does, except that it runs on a lower voltage," said Bill Lauer, director of product marketing for Micron Memory Group.

"As we pushed into high-volume production at 78nm, we started thinking of other benefits that can be derived apart from the 1.8V operating voltage," Lauer said. "We spoke with server makers and customers alike, and what they told us spurred our interest in developing the 1.5V part."

Targeting applications in data centers, the Aspen Memory DDR2 DRAMs come in 1Gbit and 512Mbit densities. According to the company, the 1.5V DDR2 DRAM parts can reduce power consumption in data centers by up to 24 percent, allowing global data centers to achieve annual savings of $300 million.

"We are targeting this product on large data centers because their blade servers or standard servers are always on. A memory system that is always on but runs on low voltage can generate a lot of savings," Lauer explained. Voltage is proportional to power, hence, reducing voltage reduces power usage and results in direct cost saving. The system also produces less heat under low voltage, thus cutting cooling costs.

The company admits that its new product has no infrastructure support yet, particularly for the chipset or motherboard, as the industry still follows the 1.8V standard for DDR2 parts. "That's why we are focused on putting the products on data centers because server makers, specifically RISC-based server makers, tend to design and build their own chipsets," Lauer said.

"The 1.5V parts are designed for a very select customer base," he revealed, adding that they are eyeing RISC-based server makers.

While currently pushing for the adoption of the 1.5V parts in servers and enterprise IP, Micron eyes mobile PCs as an alternative market. "The biggest issue here is how often that device using the DRAM is turned on. So we'll be looking at laptops certainly," Lauer said.

To date, 1.5V parts are manufactured in 'very low volumes' at Micron's Virginia fab. Its facility in Singapore may be tapped to produce them depending on market demand.

Meanwhile, Micron has announced that it will join the Green Grid, a non-profit industry consortium that aims to drive down energy consumption in data centers. It has also launched a blog ( dedicated to discussions of energy-efficiency measures for data centers.

- Anna Valmero
EE Times-Asia

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