IBM Will Chip in on Micron’s 3D Hybrid Memory Cube

By Michael Feldman

November 30, 2011

Micron Technology’s Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) got a big boost this week when IBM announced it will be supply some critical support for the technology. HMC is a 3D integrated memory chip that Micron is touting as a revolutionary device designed to make a direct assault on the memory wall.

The memory wall has come about because DRAM I/O has not kept up with multicore processors. Although DRAM capacities are keeping pace with Moore’s Law, the performance of the data channel between the memory and the processor has barely budged. Since every new core on a processor adds another hungry mouth to feed, and since cores are doubling in numbers every couple of years or so, the data channel has become a worsening bottleneck. Micron’s solution was to move memory into the 3rd dimension, allowing for the creation of more and wider I/O channels.

In a nutshell, the Hybrid Memory Cube is a 3D stack of memory glued together with through-silicon vias (TSVs). The TSVs provide the electrical interconnect for the DRAM chips. A logic controller is integrated at the base of the Cube.

Although Micron invented the Cube, the company has also brought in Samsung as part of its Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium. Intel, Altera, Open Silicon, and Xilinx are also on board, although it’s not clear if they are officially part of the Consortium or just technology partners. Intel seem particularly enthusiastic. CTO Justin Rattner demonstrated a prototype HMC at the fall Intel Developer Forum in September, noting that it was the world’s highest bandwidth DRAM device every built.

Cheerleading aside, the Consortium’s main purpose is to define an interface for the technology with enough industry backing to spur adoption by system vendors and board makers. Initially targeted to high performance computing, networking, and other memory-bandwidth hungry applications, Micron expects the technology to makes its way down into consumer devices. HMC can be coupled with CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs.

According to the announcement this week, IBM will be manufacturing the HMC controller and will use its 3D chipmaking technology to produce the Cubes. The company intends to manufacture the HMC parts using its 32nm process technology at its fab in East Fishkill, NY, with first shipments scheduled for the second half of 2012.

For high performance computing, networking, and other applications where the memory wall is already a bottleneck, the potential impact could be enormous. The HMC technology is advertised to deliver more than 15 times the performance of DDR3 memory. Using the current HMC design, transfer speeds of up to 128 GB/second (1 terabit per second) have been achieved. And because of the 3D configuration, Micron says it takes up 80 percent less space than traditional RDIMMs.

Significantly, Micron notes the Cube uses 70 percent less energy per bit than conventional DDR3 modules. A single HMC would use about 10 watts of power with current memory parts, compared to 82 watts for the equivalent performance found in 15 DDR3-1333 DIMMs.

The speedup and better energy efficiency is achieved principally through parallelism. Because the memory chips are stacked, there is more space for I/O pins through the TSVs. Thus each DRAM can be accessed with more (and/or wider) channels. The end result is that the controller can access many more banks of memory concurrently than can be accomplished with a two-dimensional DIMM. And because the controller and DRAM chips are in close proximity, latencies can be extremely low.

Prices for the HMC module have not been discussed. But given that the initial target market is for high-end systems, one could expect to pay a premium for these parts, at least from a memory capacity (bytes/dollar) perspective. But where performance, space, and energy consumption are primary considerations, the HMCs could provide a much better TCO than traditional DDR technology.

Certainly for the supercomputing community that is looking to achieve exascale computing with strict (20MW) power budget before the end of the decade, the Cube could become the go-to memory technology for these systems. For more generic HPC, pricing could be the issue, inasmuch as getting enough memory capacity at scale is already price-limited for many customers. In those cases, the Cubes might be more sparingly, as in a low capacity, high performance memory tier.

Although IBM says the first HMC chip are expected in the second half of 2012, that doesn’t mean the parts will be shipping in volume at that time. The interface spec for the Cube isn’t available yet, and isn’t expected to be ready until sometime next year. Given that, it’s more likely the first Cubes will start appearing in high-end servers, networking equipment, and compute appliances sometime in 2013.

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!

InfiniBand Still Tops in Supercomputing

July 19, 2018

In the competitive global HPC landscape, system and processor vendors, nations and end user sites certainly get a lot of attention--deservedly so--but more than ever, the network plays a crucial role. While fast, perform Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC for Life: Genomics, Brain Research, and Beyond

July 19, 2018

During the past few decades, the life sciences have witnessed one landmark discovery after another with the aid of HPC, paving the way toward a new era of personalized treatments based on an individual’s genetic makeup Read more…

By Warren Froelich

WCRP’s New Strategic Plan for Climate Research Highlights the Importance of HPC

July 19, 2018

As climate modeling increasingly leverages exascale computing and researchers warn of an impending computing gap in climate research, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) is developing its new Strategic Plan – and high-performance computing is slated to play a critical role. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Introducing the First Integrated System Management Software for HPC Clusters from HPE

How do you manage your complex, growing cluster environments? Answer that big challenge with the new HPC cluster management solution: HPE Performance Cluster Manager. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Are Your Software Licenses Impeding Your Productivity?

In my previous article, Improving chip yield rates with cognitive manufacturing, I highlighted the costs associated with semiconductor manufacturing, and how cognitive methods can yield benefits in both design and manufacture.  Read more…

U.S. Exascale Computing Project Releases Software Technology Progress Report

July 19, 2018

As is often noted the race to exascale computing isn’t just about hardware. This week the U.S. Exascale Computing Project (ECP) released its latest Software Technology (ST) Capability Assessment Report detailing progress so far. Read more…

By John Russell

InfiniBand Still Tops in Supercomputing

July 19, 2018

In the competitive global HPC landscape, system and processor vendors, nations and end user sites certainly get a lot of attention--deservedly so--but more than Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC for Life: Genomics, Brain Research, and Beyond

July 19, 2018

During the past few decades, the life sciences have witnessed one landmark discovery after another with the aid of HPC, paving the way toward a new era of perso Read more…

By Warren Froelich

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

AI Thought Leaders on Capitol Hill

July 14, 2018

On Thursday, July 12, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology heard from four academic and industry leaders – representatives from Berkeley Lab, Argonne Lab, GE Global Research and Carnegie Mellon University – on the opportunities springing from the intersection of machine learning and advanced-scale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Serves as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for the Information Age

July 12, 2018

In an age defined and transformed by its data, several large-scale scientific instruments around the globe might be viewed as a ‘mother lode’ of precious data. With names seemingly created for a ‘techno-speak’ glossary, these interferometers, cyclotrons, sequencers, solenoids, satellite altimeters, and cryo-electron microscopes are churning out data in previously unthinkable and seemingly incomprehensible quantities -- billions, trillions and quadrillions of bits and bytes of electro-magnetic code. Read more…

By Warren Froelich

Tsinghua Powers Through ISC18 Field

July 10, 2018

Tsinghua University topped all other competitors at the ISC18 Student Cluster Competition with an overall score of 88.43 out of 100. This gives Tsinghua their s Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE, EPFL Launch Blue Brain 5 Supercomputer

July 10, 2018

HPE and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausannne (EPFL) Blue Brain Project yesterday introduced Blue Brain 5, a new supercomputer built by HPE, which displ Read more…

By John Russell

Pumping New Life into HPC Clusters, the Case for Liquid Cooling

July 10, 2018

High Performance Computing (HPC) faces some daunting challenges in the coming years as traditional, industry-standard systems push the boundaries of data center Read more…

By Scott Tease

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

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