MetaRAM-based 8GB Dual-Rank DDR2 RDIMMs  (Source: SMART)
MetaRAM technology to cut server and workstation memory costs by up to 90 percent

Fabless semiconductor company MetaRAM today launched a new memory technology, called DDR2 MetaSDRAM that promises to double or quadruple memory capacity while maintaining compatibility with existing DIMMs.

MetaRAM achieves this feat by using 3D chip stacking methods to fit more capacity into a single memory chip. Such a method alone would have caused issues with compatibility, but MetaRAM developed a custom chipset that sits between the chips that makes the multiple DRAMs look like a larger capacity DRAM to the memory controller.

Also designed to maintain compatibility with existing systems is MetaRAM’s WakeOnUse power management technology. WakeOnUse, as the name implies, enables MetaSDRAM to remain in a sleep state until needed, allowing the memory to fit within current constraints. The company claims that its advancement has accelerated memory technology development by two to four years.

Without any system modifications, MetaRAM says that its memory technology will work with current AMD and Intel server and workstations.

“I've spent my career focused on building balanced computer systems and providing compatible and evolutionary innovations. With the emergence of multi-core and multi-threaded 64 bit CPUs, I realized that the memory system is once again the biggest bottleneck in systems and so set out to address this problem,” said Fred Weber, CEO of MetaRAM, and once the CTO at AMD. “MetaRAM's new MetaSDRAM does just that by bringing breakthrough main memory capacity to mainstream servers at unprecedented price points, without requiring any changes to existing CPUs, chipsets, motherboards, BIOS or software.”

Using DD2 MetaSDRAM, MetaRAM estimates that a four-processor server with 16 cores and a quarter-terabyte of memory would cost under $50,000 – a figure the company says is a 90 percent reduction in current system cost.

Perhaps for the reason of lowered server hardware costs, smaller firms and industries will suddenly find themselves able to afford high-end hardware, thus driving the rest of the industry. One such interested party in increasing chip sales is Intel, an investor of MetaRAM.

“The rapid adoption of Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors and platform virtualization, combined with the growth of data intensive applications, is driving demand for increased server memory capacity,” said Bryan Wolf, managing director, Enterprise Platforms, Intel Capital. “MetaRAM's technology presented an opportunity for Intel to participate as both an investor and a strategic technology collaborator to deliver a compatible solution that enhances system performance.”

Launching today are two chipsets based on the MetaRAM technology. The MetaSDRAM MR08G2 chipset enables 2-rank 8GB DIMMs and is available at $200 each in 1,000 kit quantities. For those who crave more, the MetaSDRAM MR16G2 chipset enables 2-rank 16GB DIMMs and is priced at $450 each in 1,000 kit quantities. Both chipsets are capable of functioning at speeds up to 667MT/s.

As MetaRAM is a fabless company, it partners Hynix Semiconductor and SMART Modular Technologies will be the first to bring to market 8GB dual-rank PC2-4200 registered DIMMs.

Besides increased memory space, moving to the new 8GB dual-rank modules will also cut down on power requirements. SMART believes that, by replacing four traditional 4GB dual-rank RDIMMs with two of 8GB dual-rank DDR2 RDIMMs, designers can reduce power consumption by up to 20 percent.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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