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Future memory devices: 10 technologies to keep in mind

Posted: 23 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory? computer? density? algorithms?

Memory is the second key component that makes up a computer system, with the first being processor, and input/output (I/O), third. As no technology can ever afford to rest on its laurels, there are ten in the list of memory technologies that can just as well replace the types of devices being used today.

"Memory devices are a rich area of research right now, with almost everyone moving to solid-state devices of one kind or another. Remember what Richard Feynman said: 'There's plenty of room at the bottom.' Atomic-scale memories are just around the corner," Richard Doherty, research director of The Envisioneering Group, told us. "But just as important are the new memory architectures and algorithms using multiple types of memory controlled by software-defined storagetruly smart algorithms that only store or recall changes."

Current memory types are all getting higher density, such as multi-level flash that uses multiple bits per cell. Optical memories such as phase-change memory (PCM) are getting denser and smarter. Even plain old DRAM is going 3D to pack more bits into the same printed circuit board (PCB) footprint. But the future of memory technologies will be jam packed with new types of materials and, perhaps even more importantly, new smarter algorithms that make storage a hierarchy off-chip in a manner similar to the way that cache memory is hierarchical on-chip.

3D chip stacking using TSVs improve densities at Micron

Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube uses up to 2,000 through silicon vias (TSVs) to stack any number of DRAM chips on top of one another. Not only does this save board space, but its ultra-high speed interfaces, on the logic chip at the bottom of the stack, also enable the memory to have the ultimate in low latency and high-speed transfers. In fact, Intel will surround its next-generation 60+ CPU Xeon Phi multi-processor with Micron Hybrid Memory Cubes to boast 16GB per package.

Hybrid memory cube

True 3D chips layered directly on same die

True 3D chips from BeSang will be fabricated by SK Hynix. Each level of memory is layered directly on same die with no need for TSVs, potentially enabling much denser 3D memory arrays. The patent-licence agreement with SK Hynix allows for technology transfer, including updates based on a service fee, for a five-year period. Also, the agreement is non-exclusive, allowing BeSang to strike similar deals with other chip manufacturers.

3D chips

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