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The test chips Rambus will use in its demonstration  (Source: Rambus Inc.)
Rambus plans to deliver huge leap in memory bandwidth by 2011

Rambus Inc. plans to announce this Wednesday a new memory signaling technology initiative targeted at delivering a Terabyte-per-second of memory bandwidth, which the company touts as a solution for next-generation multi-core, game and graphics applications.

Rather than simply increasing the clock speed of memory to achieve higher output, Rambus looks to boost bandwidth with a 32X data rate. Just as DDR memory technologies doubles transfer on a single, full clock signal cycle, Rambus’ proposed technology is able to data at 32 times the reference clock frequency. With 32X technology, the memory company is targeting a bandwidth of 16Gbps per DQ link with memory running at 500MHz. In contrast, today’s DDR3 at 500MHz achieves a bandwidth of 1Gbps.

“We're really excited about the Terabyte Bandwidth Initiative and the technologies that we've developed,” said Steven Woo, a senior principle engineer at Rambus. “The work of a large team of our scientists and engineers is pushing memory signaling technology to new levels of performance.”

Of course, it requires a little explanation on how a technology that enables a DQ link 16Gbps of bandwidth could result in a Terabyte of throughput. Rambus’ aim for the technology is to grant Terabyte bandwidth to a system on a chip (SoC) architecture, and such may be achieved with 16 DRAMs operating at 16Gbps, 4-bytes wide per device.

Another innovation that Rambus plans to integrate into its Terabyte memory initiative is FlexLink C/A (command/address), which the company claims is the industry’s first full-speed, scalable, point-to-point C/A link – with the C/A running at full speed along with the DQ. FlexLink C/A also simplifies the interface between the memory controller and DRAM. For example, traditional legacy interfaces may require a 12 wire interface, FlexLink C/A can operate point-to-point with just two wires.

Furthermore, FlexLink C/A is named for its flexibility given to system designers, as now the overhead wires freed from the FlexLink C/A interfaces may be devoted to more data wires. Conversely, the model may offer greater bandwidth with the addition of more FlexLink C/A wires, making the technology more easily scalable.

Rambus’ Terabyte bandwidth initiative will use a fully differential memory architecture, which will employ differential signaling for both the C/A and DQ. While current DDR3 and GDDR5 memory use differential signaling for data and strobe, Rambus aims for full differential at the DQ and C/A. Advantages of going full differential include better signal integrity, especially due to its suitability for use in low-voltage electronics, such as memory.

While this Terabyte bandwidth memory method isn’t slated for market until 2011, Rambus has recently received early silicon capable of demonstrating its technology. The early test rig uses emulated DRAM chips, connected to a Rambus memory controller at a 32X data rate capable of 64Gbps. Rambus will show its silicon test vehicle this Wednesday at the Rambus Developer Forum in Tokyo, Japan.

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By AlvinCool on 11/26/2007 9:03:25 AM , Rating: -1
So is Rambus really trying to make fast memory, or are they trying to quickly get a patent so that others will have to ,again, pay for something they would have developed? I mean if all companys are gonna do is blanket technology with roadmaps that can't be done now so they can be paid for it in the future what is that going to do to technology advancement?

RE: Infringment?
By Calin on 11/26/2007 9:14:01 AM , Rating: 2
Memory using technologies patented by Rambus is already used - XDR in Playstation3, by example.
Rambus developed (or tried to) fast memory with low pin count. While on PCs (with their 168-pins SDR module) pin count is not a problem, in small devices this space comes at a premium.

RE: Infringment?
By Screwballl on 11/26/2007 10:29:00 AM , Rating: 1
Rambus is another patent hog, get a generalized patent on something like this and when another company in the future claims something similar they sue them... Rambus is one that needs to die and die quickly... but history proves they will not... and this will stifle innovation (and double the price of a computer build due to the price they will expect)

RE: Infringment?
By ecktt on 11/26/2007 11:39:29 AM , Rating: 2
Well if that is the case, why don't the other manufactures do the R&D and beat them to the punch?

RE: Infringment?
By Murst on 11/26/2007 11:51:15 AM , Rating: 3
Although rambus has had some shady practices with patents (a certain case of creating a standard that relied on their own patents comes to mind), calling them patent hogs is idiotic.

These people have a R&D department. They are one of the primary reasons why memory is where it is today. Sure, someone else would have done the same with time, but RAM manufacturers have pretty much shown they don't care much for innovation when it comes to RAM.

If you were to look at all the major advancements in RAM, they pretty much came from either rambus or IBM. It wasn't the chip makers, yet people seem to think that the chip makers would take over if Rambus were to fold.

At least there's a company out there that will research it. It takes a lot of money to develop and test these technologies. There is also a lot of very smart people that need to be hired to make this happen. Yet some people think that Rambus should be giving this out for free.

RE: Infringment?
By Screwballl on 11/26/2007 12:46:49 PM , Rating: 2
The reason for my comment was that Rambus places generalized patents out there so either the company has to pay Rambus or they get sued. Other companies do have their own R&D but Rambus holds so many of these patents that it is impossible to make something better without crossing into one of Rambus' generalized patents.

RE: Infringment?
By Fritzr on 11/26/2007 11:52:31 AM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't affect the price of mainstream PCs. Will give the developers of DDR, a goal to aim at :) Terabit bandwidth with 32bit or 64bit transfer is now on the horizon :)

It really speeds things up when the goals are defined.

The hidden costs of Terabit bandwidth include.
4bit wide memory--16 memory modules per bank for 64 bit data
(32bit DDRx requires pairs on 64bit memory motherboards for this reason)
RDRAM requires blank modules in unused memory slots (minor issue, but was made to seem serious when new)
RDRAM latency increases with the number of modules installed. (This one is a major issue for performance)
RAMBus charges relatively high prices for both memory they manufacture and per unit licensing. This was the primary reason that RDRAM systems failed in the market. In a properly designed system, latency was not a big problem when comparing performance to the competition at the time RDRAM came out.
RAMBus loves patent lawsuits...expect that history to drive development of similar performance using an unrelated architecture. Highspeed DDR owes a lot to the original RDRAM for promoting interest in highspeed memories :)

RE: Infringment?
By DigitalFreak on 11/26/2007 3:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
highspeed memories :)

I prefer highspeed mammories, but to each their own.

RE: Infringment?
By Calin on 11/27/2007 3:13:59 AM , Rating: 2
"RDRAM requires blank modules in unused memory slots"
You mean if one of my RIMMs goes bad, and I've misplaced the blank memory modules that came with the mainboard, I can't run in reduced memory configuration? And until a new pair of memory modules comes, my computer is bricked?
"In a properly designed system, latency was not a big problem when comparing performance to the competition at the time RDRAM came out."
When RDRAM came out, system performance was equal to high speed SDRAM (on Pentium3). And RDRAM cost was almost 10 times higher than the said SDRAM.
Pentium4 made good use of the added bandwidth (and its architecture somewhat negated the increased latency). The prices for RDRAM were lower, and SDRAM needed two channels to be competitive. Yet, SDRAM was the cheaper option.
Dual channel DDRAM blew away any hope of competitiveness for RDRAM in desktop space.

RE: Infringment?
By Hoser McMoose on 11/26/2007 9:16:28 PM , Rating: 4
To be fair to Rambus they seem to have kicked the lawyers out, or at least into another building. With XDR and this new technology it looks like they're really gotten back to doing honest-to-goodness R&D work for their money.

Unfortunately for the engineers there though their innovations are never going to be fully realized. The Rambus lawyers just pissed off WAY too many of their customers (the memory manufacturers).

Who knew that trying to sue every single one of your potential customers might turn out to be a bad business plan?

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