Micron Readies Hybrid Memory Cube for Debut

By Tiffany Trader

January 17, 2013

The next-generation memory-maker Micron Technology was one of the many innovative companies demonstrating its wares on the Supercomputing Conference (SC12) show floor last November. Micron’s General Manager of Hybrid Technology Scott Graham was on hand to discuss the latest developments in their Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) technology, a multi-chip module (MCM) that aims to address one of the biggest challenges in high performance computing: scaling the memory wall.

Memory architectures haven’t kept pace with the bandwidth requirements of multicore processors. As microprocessor speeds out-accelerated DRAM memory speeds, a bottleneck developed that is referred to as the memory wall. Stacked memory applications, however, enable higher memory bandwidth.

The Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) is a new memory architecture that combines a high-speed logic layer with a stack of through-silicon-via (TSV) bonded memory die that enables impressive advantages over current technology. According to company figures, a single HMC offers a 15x performance increase and uses 70 percent less energy per bit when compared to DDR3 memory, and takes up 90 percent less space than today’s RDIMMs. The Cube is also scalable per application, which is not possible with DDR3 and DDR4. System designers have the option of employing the HMC as near memory for best performance or in a scalable module form factor, as far memory, for optimum power efficiency.

Micron HMC demo
Micron HMC demo at SC12 – screen shot

This is a huge leap forward from a technology perspective, noted Graham, compared to DDRx and other boutique memory products that are out there.

As HPCwire editor Michael Feldman explained in an earlier review of the technology:

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.

Judging by the degree and caliber of community involvement, Micron’s HMC technology represents a real breakthrough in how memory is used. In October 2011, Micron together with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., formed the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium, tasked with developing an open industry standard that facilitates HMC integration into a wide variety of systems, platforms and applications.

The consortium is managed by a group of ten developers (Altera, ARM, HP, IBM, Micron, Microsoft, Open Silicon, Samsung, SK Hynix, and Xilinx), which have equal voting power on the final specification, along with an additional 75 adopters. The members are currently reviewing a draft specification, scheduled to be released next month, that details the communication interface between the Cube and the processor – CPU or GPU or FPGA.

Speaking to the initial set of targeted applications, the driving body notes that the “Hybrid Memory Cube represents the key to extending network system performance to push through the challenges of new 100G and 400G infrastructure growth. Eventually, HMC will drive exascale CPU system performance growth for next generation HPC systems.”

Companies are eager to get their hands on this product and Micron is working with an aggressive roadmap to meet that demand, Graham told HPCwire. The Gen1 demo, on display at SC12, was real silicon, and engineering samples for the Gen2 device are due out this summer. If all goes as planned, the Hybrid Memory Cube will be in full production at the end of this year or early 2014. In fact, contracts are already in place for the 2014 timeframe.

Hybrid Memory Cube demo
Side shot of the HMC demo at SC12. The actual Cube is on the far corner of the board.

High-speed networking vendors have signed up for the first productized version – with an HPC-centric product not far behind. Micron was not at liberty to identify these initial customers, but a look at the list of consortium partners turns up candidates like Lawrence Livermore, Cray, NEC, and T-Platforms.

The first couple of HMC implementations will be straight DRAM, but Micron and others are researching alternative memory combinations, for example multi-memory stacks that employ NAND flash and DRAM.

“There are all kinds of things you can do within the logic layer to pull different types of functionality, that are maybe off-chip today, into the logic layer and innovate further, with more functionality, better performance, and lower energy,” noted Graham.

Micron is framing this as an aggressive technology, emphasizing that this is the first time that all three of the largest memory makers (Micron, Samsung, and presumably SK Hynix) have teamed up.

“All of the memory manufacturers face the same challenge of being able to scale beyond 20nm, so we’re all coming up to even a bigger memory wall eventually,” explained Graham “Beyond 20nm, you’re going to have to move to some kind of management layer in order to continue with DRAM technology.”

The logic layer developed for the Cube allows for different flavors of technology – like spin-torque, memristor and others – to extend the viability of DRAM memory. “This means we can be really innovative with different types of cell technology and process technology so we can bring a more standard memory into the marketplace without these major shifts,” said Graham.

According to the Micron rep, they’ve also seen interest from companies outside the consortium. Most notably absent from the member roster are AMD and Intel, but that by no means implies a lack of involvement. Intel, for its part, demonstrated a prototype HMC device during the fall Intel Developer Forum in September 2011, deeming it the fastest and most efficient DRAM ever built. As Graham put it, these companies have opted not to be involved in the open standard in order to develop their own way of using the technology.

Still a year away from production, pricing for Cube products has not been announced, but early adopters should expect to pay a premium for the benefits of increased performance, power efficiency and space savings. The exascale community, in particular, will be paying close attention. If they’re to realize their goal of a 10^18 FLOPS machine within a 20MW power envelope, they’ll need all the help they can get.

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!

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after several years of expectations, be the year OpenPOWER and IBM’ Read more…

By Doug Black

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate scientists the ability to use machine learning to identify e Read more…

By Rob Farber

Mellanox Reacts to Activist Investor Pressures in Letter to Shareholders

March 16, 2018

Activist investor Starboard Value has been exerting pressure on Mellanox Technologies to increase its returns. In response, the high-performance networking company on Monday, March 12, published a letter to shareholders outlining its proposal for a May 2018 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders and highlighting its long-term growth strategy and focus on operating margin improvement. Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Harness the Full Power of HPC Servers with an Effective Cooling Approach

High performance computing (HPC) innovation is rapidly transforming the way we operate – with an onslaught of cutting-edge technologies designed to optimize applications and workloads, increase productivity, and enable better business outcomes. Read more…

Quantum Computing vs. Our ‘Caveman Newtonian Brain’: Why Quantum Is So Hard

March 15, 2018

Quantum is coming. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough. Within 10 to 12 years, we’re told, special-purpose quantum systems will enter the commercial realm. Assuming this happens, we can also assume that quantum will, over extended time, become increasingly general purpose as it delivers mind-blowing power. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts OpenPOWER Ecosystem, Announces New Customers, Products for AI and Hyperscale

March 20, 2018

At SC17 in Denver four months ago, Ken King, GM, OpenPOWER, IBM Systems Group, told a somewhat jaundiced trio of journalists that 2018 would, finally, after sev Read more…

By Doug Black

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Stephen Hawking, Legendary Scientist, Dies at 76

March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking passed away at his home in Cambridge, England, in the early morning of March 14; he was 76. Born on January 8, 1942, Hawking was an English theo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hyperion Tackles Elusive Quantum Computing Landscape

March 13, 2018

Quantum computing - exciting and off-putting all at once - is a kaleidoscope of technology and market questions whose shapes and positions are far from settled. Read more…

By John Russell

Part Two: Navigating Life Sciences Choppy HPC Waters in 2018

March 8, 2018

2017 was not necessarily the best year to build a large HPC system for life sciences say Ari Berman, VP and GM of consulting services, and Aaron Gardner, direct Read more…

By John Russell

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SciNet Launches Niagara, Canada’s Fastest Supercomputer

March 5, 2018

SciNet and the University of Toronto today unveiled "Niagara," Canada's most-powerful supercomputer, comprising 1,500 dense Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 high-perfor Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

World Record: Quantum Computer with 46 Qubits Simulated

December 18, 2017

Scientists from the Jülich Supercomputing Centre have set a new world record. Together with researchers from Wuhan University and the University of Groningen, Read more…

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This