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Print 10 comment(s) - last by Lord Evermore.. on Dec 17 at 10:47 PM

When less is definitely more

Samsung today announced what it calls OneDRAM memory "fusion," a new type of high-speed DRAM designed to eliminate the need for both DRAM and SRAM components inside compact, high-speed multimedia devices. Samsung noted that devices such as smart phones and portable media players rely heavily on at least two types of memory for two types of processors: a communications and a media processor. With Samsung's OneDRAM, compact devices can eliminate the need for extra components, saving power as well as increasing speed at the same time -- both processors can use the same memory bank at the same time. According to Samsung:

Samsung’s new fusion solution, OneDRAM, is expected to be specified in the design of handsets, game consoles and in other digital applications, especially those that use 3-dimensional graphics. Due to rapidly increasing demand for multimedia features in mobile applications, designers have been specifying the use of two separate processors – a communication processor and a media processor. The new OneDRAM will channel data between the processors through a single chip eliminating the need to also specify DRAM and SRAM chips for buffer memory.

OneDRAM has the capability to be flexible as well as high-speed. Samsung indicated that when OneDRAM is used in devices such as handsets and game consoles, the total capacity can be divided and adjusted for use depending on application. The memory itself is based on double-data-rate (DDR) technology and currently operates at 133MHz. In fact, Samsung is claiming that memory performance will show to be up to five times faster than traditional designs. Samsung is producing silicon at 512Mb samples with larger cells to come later.

Handheld devices are decreasing in sizes on a daily basis, and manufacturers and designers show no sign of slowing down. This is one area where Samsung's OneDRAM will show benefits. A single OneDRAM chip can replace at least two mobile memory modules in a smart phone and because physical size is smaller, circuit space can be used for other features or just to reduce product size in general. Power consumption will be reduced by up to 30-percent said Samsung.

DailyTech recently reported that Samsung became first in the world to produce DRAM chips at 50nm. The company announced first samples back in mid-October, claiming that moving from 60nm to 50nm increased memory efficiency by nearly 55-percent. Mass production of 50nm DRAM samples will commence in 2008. Although no mention of what fabrication level Samsung's OneDRAM will be made at, we can expect Samsung to move to 50nm for OneDRAM if that isn't already the goal. Samsung is also developing 16-chip stack packaging, where multiple chips are stacked ontop of each other in the same package to effectively increase capacity.

With all the new memory technologies that Samsung is working on, we can expect to see a healthy dose of new product designs -- all faster, smaller and more capable than those available today. Samsung said that OneDRAM will start appearing in mobile phones first and since the company makes its own phones, we can expect to see product announcements soon.


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unified memory controller?
By Eris23007 on 12/13/2006 2:52:51 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds to me like one large, fast memory bank with a dual-port memory controller...

Anyone have a greater level of insight into the design of this product?




RE: unified memory controller?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 12/13/2006 4:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much, this eliminates the need to have different memory chips for different use. Now it just has a large memory block that all the chips and processors can plug into and use anytime they need memory space to work with. Which is good, this cuts down on redundancy and allows designs to be smaller with one centralized memory chip.

Definately a step up.


RE: unified memory controller?
By Lord Evermore on 12/17/2006 10:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
What does all that have to do with eliminating the two different memory types though? How can one memory type replace both static and dynamic memory chips, if the two features that differentiate those were needed in the first place? Does the memory controller act as a pseudo-SRAM chip as far as one of those processors is concerned, handling the refresh and other stuff so that the processor can still act as if it's connected to SRAM? I suppose that's neat, not amazing, but maybe something nobody else was able to find a way to make practical yet.

As far as the dual-ported memory controller, that doesn't seem all that astounding, but of course they have to announce it like it's a big leap in technology. You just design a memory controller that can communicate with both types of bus technology for the two processors, or if you can use two processors that use the same bus type, it's even easier, more like a dual-core Athlon or the newer Intel chipsets for quad-core processors which have two FSBs.

Really all this sounds like is what PCs have used for years, shared memory access.

Of course it will lead to phone makers using smaller total amounts of memory, on the theory that since it can be dynamically partitioned, you don't need the full amount of memory continuously available to both processors. The result will be that half the time your phone can't handle the programs you want because the memory load never actually balances out so that only one processor at a time is using a large amount.


I'm wondering...
By samuraiBX on 12/13/06, Rating: 0
RE: I'm wondering...
By Microschoft on 12/13/2006 6:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
what has increased speed of memory to do with the quality of a picture? As far as I know the quality of a picture is pretty much defined by the lens, optical sensor and craftsmanship of the photographer ;)


RE: I'm wondering...
By TimberJon on 12/14/2006 11:59:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yea I doubt that a cell phone can soon compete with dedicated digis. I think the processing is much different, and the size of the components. Everything is microsized for the cell phones. Ive seen those cell phones that do 3MP, but I still think the components are manufactured by the lowest bidder and the quality is just not even close to a 3MP digicam.


wait
By neihrick1 on 12/13/2006 11:50:59 PM , Rating: 3
i'm waiting on pcm from ibm.
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/arstechnica/BAaf/~3...

FeRAM (ferroelectric memory), MRAM (magnetic memory), PCM (phase-change memory), and RRAM (resistive memory). Although at various degrees of maturity, these new memories are non-volatile and some promise to rival the performance of DRAM and/or SRAM.

meaning solid state memory with unlimited read write times at the speed of ddr2, possibly faster




More Powa to Mobile Tech
By Assimilator87 on 12/14/2006 12:18:55 AM , Rating: 2
"Handheld devices are decreasing in sizes on a daily basis, and manufacturers and designers show no sign of slowing down. This is one area where Samsung's OneDRAM will show benefits."

Perhaps all this mobile optimized technology will create a halfway decent UMPC in the near future.




Good article
By Gleemer on 12/14/2006 5:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
Good job, author. Figured out in a few sentences what all the other crap (eetimes, etc.) couldn't explain. Maybe I'll check out DailyTech some more. Maybe The Man will give you a bonus.




unified memory controller?
By Eris23007 on 12/13/06, Rating: -1
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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