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Identifying memory trends: Issues, standards and specs

Posted: 09 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Keysight Technologies? memory? standard? DDR4? 3D silicon?

Developments surrounding memory technologies in 2014 mostly focus on 3D memory, mobile memory, high-performance memory and "next-gen" memory. For this year, Jennie Grosslight, the memory test product manager at Keysight Technologies, has given us her thoughts on what she thinks will be the prevailing memory trends.

As the memory test product manager, Grosslight is responsible for Keysight's logic analysis and compliance test tools for memory applications. With 25 years of experience and an electrical engineering degree from the University of Colorado, she has worked as an R&D engineer, technical marketing engineer, and product marketing engineer. She has been focused on helping engineers analyse and validate memory systems for the past 11 years.

Jennie Grosslight

Jennie Grosslight, memory test product manager at Keysight Technologies

What can we expect for memory in 2015? What are the trends you see?

Price, power and performance will continue to be the driving features of memory deployment. Both DDR4 and LPDDR4 offer impressive performance improvements and power savings. DDR4 will see broader deployment to replace DDR3 in servers and begin "trickle-down" deployment in high-end desktop workstations. This will improve cloud performance and save power. LPDDR4-based products will hit the market, and mobile memory will take over as the technology driver for the memory industry overall. As DDR4 and LPDDR4 DRAM sales increase, prices will decrease, driving even more design starts with these technologies. Finally, universal flash storage-based products will be formally introduced, laying the foundation for a quantum jump in mobile systems performance and price/performance.

If you could tell engineers one thing about memory test, what would it be?

DDR memory is at the heart of today's cloud computing servers, most of them having at least 24 DIMMs across four channels. With some data centres reporting that DDR memory is the second-highest failure they experience, the need for robust testing of designs continues to grow. To increase margin and overall performance and create a reliable and robust system, close attention to physical layer and functional testing, characterisation and debug to validate that the system is operating within JEDEC specifications is a critical step.

What has surprised you most about memory development over the past 3-5 years?

In the industry, the biggest surprise has been the emergence of the "Memory Wall" as a fundamental issue, its impact on computing architectures, and the incredible burst of innovation it has stimulated. For the past 10 years, memory has progressed along an evolutionary path, with DDR succeeding SDR, then DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. Now, everything from 3D silicon cubes to distributed memory architectures and completely new signalling methods are in development with some already deployed. Every few months a new possibility seems to emerge for consideration. It's the most interesting time to be involved in memory in the last 20 years. Along this evolutionary path, lower power and increased data rates in LPDDR technologies for mobile applications continues to push the limits. The LPDDR specification in mobile applications now has the performance of DDR technologies in computing.

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