AMD Looks to Increase System Memory

The company's new memory technology will support multicore processing and virtualization.

In two years, Advanced Micro Devices is planning to increase the memory on its Opteron microprocessor platform with a new memory extender that will increase the number of dual in-line memory modules that each CPU uses, the company announced July 25.

When the Sunnyvale, Calif., companys Socket G3 Memory Extender, or G3MX, technology hits the market in 2009, it promises to increase the number of DIMMs that can be used with each core from eight to 16.

In addition, the G3MX technology and the DIMMs, which are currently being co-developed with IDT and Inphi, a pair of integrated circuit companies, will also support the newer DDR3 DRAM (double-data rate 3 dynamic RAM) standards, according to AMD.

The result of this technology, according to AMD, will be an increase in the memory capacity of high-end and some midrange servers. The technology will also allow these systems to deliver increased performance when running mission-critical applications or large databases, or when used for virtualization.

While the amount of memory that comes with 64-bit processors is quite large, there are limitations in the number of DIMMs servers can fit due to the design of the chip set and the motherboard. This development by AMD addresses those design limitations and allows servers to run with much larger memory capacity.

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Within its current Opteron platform, AMD uses two memory channels with a total of four DIMMS per channel. The new G3MX technology will add two additional memory channels and bring the number of DIMMs up to 16, said Kishna Weaver, an Opteron product manager for AMD.

"The memory extender will be able to plug into the platform and this will allow the systems to utilize more memory capacity," Weaver said. "What users are asking for is a much larger memory footprint."

The new G3MX technology will begin hitting the market at the same time AMD begins introducing its next generation of microarchitecture, Weaver said. In addition to offering more memory capacity for high-end, four-way systems, the technology will also give a needed memory boost to midrange, two-way systems.

With more customers deploying virtualization along with the ability to deploy multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical server, users have asked AMD for new ways to beef up the memory in order to support multiple virtual environments running a number of different applications.

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"One of the areas that we see this technology making a big difference in is virtualization, Weaver said. "Virtualization is a trend that really mirrors what we are doing. In this case, you have one system running a lot of different applications and that really stretches the memory of the server."

Intel, the worlds largest chip maker, also has plans to begin offering the new DDR3 DRAM technology. A spokesperson for the Santa Clara, Calif., company said Intel will first offer DDR3 in desktop platforms first. He declined to detail any other specifics of the companys road map at this time.

"Intel will be first to offer desktop platforms that support DDR3," the spokesperson wrote in an email to eWEEK. "We support a wide range of technologies on our server platforms and are continually reviewing technologies to provide the best performance and performance efficiency to our customers."

Memory buffer technology, the spokesperson said, "is not new. Intel servers have had memory buffers for multiple generations, such as the MAC in the 460GX chip set and XMB in the E8500 chip set, and we continue to evaluate their use on future platforms."

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