MetaRAM Teams with Intel to Increase System Memory

MetaRAM and Intel are combining their chip technologies to increase the system memory in servers and work stations. MetaRAM is upgrading its memory chip set to work with new DDR3 memory standards that can be found in new work stations and servers that are based on Intel processors. MetaRAM's memory technology also works with the AMD Opteron processor.

MetaRAM is looking to team up with Intel to take advantage of new DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory standards and increase the system memory in servers and work stations.

MetaRAM, a startup that released its first memory product earlier this year, will be demonstrating its new memory technology that works with DDR3 at this week's Intel Developer Forum. Patrick Gelsinger, Intel's senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, also showed off how the MetaRAM technology works with Intel's new system platforms during his keynote address.

What MetaRAM offers is its own unique chip set that system vendors can use in conjunction with a server's DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) that then allows them to double or quadruple the memory capacity of a standard system without radically changing the physical infrastructure or motherboard.

What a company such as MetaRAM is trying to do is address what some believe will be a huge memory crunch in the years to come, especially since memory capacity doubles only about every 36 months compared to 18 months for processing power. In the case of enterprises trying to consolidate data centers through server virtualization, more memory is needed with each individual system.

"Through data center consolidation and virtualization, end users are trying to improve the utilization of hardware and lower the cost," said Suresh Rajan, the co-founder and vice president of Marketing and Business Development at MetaRAM. "We enable the consolidation to happen much faster because when you consolidate servers into one platform, the amount of memory in the platform has to double or quadruple in order for you to enable the consolidation.

The technology behind the MetaDRAM 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.

When MetaRAM first offered its original memory chip set, it focused on DDR2 memory and worked with system platforms that used Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors. The company has also focused on making its memory technology work with registered DIMMs as opposed to full-buffered DIMMs.

With the release on the new Nehalem microarchitecture and new platforms for servers and workstations at IDF, Rajan said Intel will support both full-buffered and registered DIMMs. In turn, this will give MetaRAM access to a much larger market.

"We believe that DDR3 registered DIMMs [dual in-line memory module] are going to be a significant portion of the server market," said Rajan. "Registered DIMMs are a much low-power solution for servers. While fully-buffered DIMMs will have a place in the market, registered DIMMs are more suited for the high end of the market, especially with the four- and eight-socket systems. We also think the makers of two-socket systems will also adopt registered DIMMs."

At IDF, MetaRAM will show three of its upcoming memory chip sets, which include support for 4GB, 8GB and 16GB of memory. The company is also announcing a partnership with Hynix Semiconductor, one of the world's largest makers of DRAM memory. At the show Hynix will show off a 16GB registered DIMM that uses the MetaRAM SDRAM technology. Hynix is also sampling a 8GB model that runs at 1333 million transactions per second.

Later, when AMD moves to DDR3, Rajan said the MetaRAM memory technology will work with those platforms as well.