Thoughts on Memory Trends from Micron’s Dean Klein

By Michael Feldman

June 23, 2011

With all the focus on more powerful microprocessors, sometimes it’s easy to forget that speedier chips do no good if memory or storage is your bottleneck. Since processors are increasing their performance at a much faster rate then bandwidth, there has been a renewed focus on technologies to help to close that gap between processors and memory as well as between memory and storage. Advanced DRAM, NAND flash, and other more exotic memories are being developed with just that challenge mind.

In the final keynote of the week at the International Supercomputing Conference, Dean Klein addressed this topic in some depth under the session titled: Trends in Memory Systems: Showstopper or Performance Potential for HPC. Klein is the VP of Memory Systems Development at Micron Technology and has been immersed in this area since joining the company in 1999. Prior to the conference, HPCwire asked Klein to preview the topic and give us his take on where he thinks memory technology is heading, especially for high performance computing systems.

HPCwire: What are the big drivers today for memory technology?

Dean Klein: Process, economics and architecture. Process technology has always been a driver, and it remains so today. Memory processes have always led the advanced lithography charge for the semiconductor industry, as well. Economics have been a significant driver, as well. The economics of shrinking have allowed us to pack over 64 gigabits of NAND on a single die today using 20nm processes.

For DRAM, the economics of government subsidies and expensive process R&D have created an industry of booms and busts. This cyclical market has shown recent signs of stabilization which will allow the industry to tackle the challenge of architecture. Memory has always been on a path of incremental evolution, with minor architectural improvements, which unfortunately have not kept pace with processors. Today, architecture is driving memory towards dramatically higher performance with aggressive power savings.

HPCwire: What sort of memory technologies do you think will become more important in the coming years, especially in regard to high performance computing and servers in general?

Klein: My biases here probably show in the previous answer! Memory technologies that allow greater performance, reliability and power savings are clearly going to play big roles in HPC this decade. We have shown our Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) concept, which is clearly an example of the type of DRAM technology that can revolutionize HPC.

But we can’t forget the other side of memory, either — the non-volatile side. Non-volatile memory (NVM) will play a major role in HPC and servers. The impact in servers is already being felt in systems employing SSD’s as part of the storage hierarchy. But we’re only touching the tip of the iceberg so far!

HPCwire: What role will 3D memory technologies play?

Klein: Shrinking in the X and Y dimensions will grow to be a greater challenge throughout this decade. There are multiple places where 3D memory technologies will play big roles. At the process level, 3D is already huge, with the DRAM cells themselves being highly engineered 3D structures. Transistors and capacitors both are highly 3D. At the die level, stacking of DRAM die is already occurring to meet density requirements. With DDR4 this will become even more common. Of course, the Hybrid Memory Cube takes die stacking to a whole new level, utilizing thru-silicon vias to build a much more efficient stack.

HPCwire: How will these new technologies affect processor and server architectures?

Klein: This is an area where a lot of innovation is set to occur and I can only dream of the impact of these technologies. Certainly, there is a probability of an expansion of the memory hierarchy as extreme bandwidth, coupled with dramatic power savings, from technologies like HMC and NVM are adopted into HPC. But this is only the start. There are a lot of factors influencing HPC architecture today that will also play a role. Other processor architectures, such as Power, ARM and GPUs can integrate new memory technologies in some pretty exciting ways.

HPCwire: What’s the next step for SSDs?

Klein: The next major step for SSD’s is to leave the legacy storage connections behind. PCIe is the next obvious connection as is highlighted by products from Fusion-IO, Micron, and others. Of course, NAND is today’s current choice for SSD’s but Micron has demonstrated phase change memory (PCM) in the PCIe environment as well.

HPCwire: How would you rate the potential of the more exotic solid state technologies like phase change memory, spin-torque transfer memories (STTM) or others, compared to conventional NAND?

Klein: NAND is real, and it is very inexpensive. Some companies have shown that NAND can continue to scale if the cells are constructed in a 3D manner. As long as NAND continues to scale, the economics will continue to be in its favor. However, memory technologies like PCM or STTM have other advantages, including an ability to read and write single words. This alone gives them an architectural advantage over NAND in non-storage applications.

HPCwire: What will be the role of HDDs when SSDs become a ubiquitous element in all computing systems?

Klein: HDDs are NOT going away! Globally we are creating data at a tremendous rate and we will still need rotating media to store much of it. But this rotating media will be focused more on density and less on performance.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Talk to Me: Nvidia Claims NLP Inference, Training Records

August 15, 2019

Nvidia says it’s achieved significant advances in conversation natural language processing (NLP) training and inference, enabling more complex, immediate-response interchanges between customers and chatbots. And the co Read more…

By Doug Black

Trump Administration and NIST Issue AI Standards Development Plan

August 14, 2019

Efforts to develop AI are gathering steam fast. On Monday, the White House issued a federal plan to help develop technical standards for AI following up on a mandate contained in the Administration’s AI Executive Order Read more…

By John Russell

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a good understanding of the early universe, its fate billions Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AWS Solution Channel

Efficiency and Cost-Optimization for HPC Workloads – AWS Batch and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

High Performance Computing on AWS leverages the power of cloud computing and the extreme scale it offers to achieve optimal HPC price/performance. With AWS you can right size your services to meet exactly the capacity requirements you need without having to overprovision or compromise capacity. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the combined power of HPC and AI to your business transformation

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Cloudy with a Chance of Mainframes

[Connect with HPC users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community.]

Rapid rates of change sometimes result in unexpected bedfellows. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Accelerates Cancer Prediction Research

August 13, 2019

In the fight against cancer, early prediction, which drastically improves prognoses, is critical. Now, new research by a team from Northwestern University – and accelerated by supercomputing resources at Argonne Nation Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AI is the Next Exascale – Rick Stevens on What that Means and Why It’s Important

August 13, 2019

Twelve years ago the Department of Energy (DOE) was just beginning to explore what an exascale computing program might look like and what it might accomplish. Today, DOE is repeating that process for AI, once again starting with science community town halls to gather input and stimulate conversation. The town hall program... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader and John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Drives Single-Socket Servers with AMD Epyc Rome CPUs

August 7, 2019

No summer doldrums here. As part of the AMD Epyc Rome launch event in San Francisco today, Lenovo announced two new single-socket servers, the ThinkSystem SR635 Read more…

By Doug Black

Building Diversity and Broader Engagement in the HPC Community

August 7, 2019

Increasing diversity and inclusion in HPC is a community-building effort. Representation of both issues and individuals matters - the more people see HPC in a w Read more…

By AJ Lauer

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Upcoming NSF Cyberinfrastructure Projects to Support ‘Long-Tail’ Users, AI and Big Data

August 5, 2019

The National Science Foundation is well positioned to support national priorities, as new NSF-funded HPC systems to come online in the upcoming year promise to Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This