The Problem with Memory Systems

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-02-25 Print this article Print

"What we found was that the memory system in both workstations and servers were becoming a big bottleneck in terms of system performance," Rajan told eWEEK.

"CPUs had continued to scale over the last 10 years, but what we both saw was that the memory system had not kept pace with the CPU. Therefore, all the improvements that AMD and Intel and Sun [Microsystems] and IBM had done to the CPU were not being fully utilized by the end-user because the memory subsystem had not kept pace."

These type of multicore processor advances, Rajan said, are important as workloads on servers increase. However, to keep pace, vendors are looking for ways to increase the amount of memory without adding huge costs to the base price of the system. He said that as the use of virtualization and "in-memory" databases increase, the burden to add more memory into each system will grow and prices will skyrocket.

That is where the MetaSDRAM products come in.

The technology behind the MetaSDRAM chip set works by making multiple DRAM memory chips look like one large DRAM chip to the system's memory controller. Instead of the memory chips communicating directly to the memory controller, that communication is now routed through the chip set This setup eliminates some of the limitations associated with system memory.

Instead of four separate 1GB DRAMs, the system believes it is communicating with a single 4GB DRAM.

Right now, a four-way system with 256GB of memory costs about $500,000, Rajan said. With the MetaSDRAM chip set eliminating the need for additional DIMMs with more expensive DRAM chips, that same system will cost about $50,000.

Although none of the top-tier OEMs are offering systems with the MetaRAM technology, several smaller vendors such as Appro, Verari Systems, Rackable Systems and Colfax International, will use the new technology.


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