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Dec 4, 2011

Micron and IBM Make 15 Times Faster 3D Memory Chips

The memory market is in the ditch, so a nice breakthrough might be just what it needs to climb back up, a breakthrough like the one Micron and IBM are developing.

Technically, the idea for the new memory technology appeared some time ago.

Known as 3D memory chips, it, or they, are a something that more than one chip maker is looking at, like IBM and Micron.

The latter has a type of semiconductor that carries the moniker of Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC).

The two started the month of December on a high note, showing that they had discovered a way to make the already impressive 3D chips 15 times faster.

The first memory chip to use CMOS manufacturing technology with through-silicon vias (TSVs) is what they described in their announcement.

The 32nm chips will not only have bandwidth of 128 GB/s, but also an energy efficiency improvement of 70%.

Not only that, but the size is more compact as well: 10 percent of the so-called footprint of conventional memory.

For the sake of comparison, currently available chips have a limit of 12.8 GB/s.

“HMC is a game changer, finally giving architects a flexible memory solution that scales bandwidth while addressing power efficiency,” said Robert Feurle, vice president of DRAM Marketing for Micron.

“Through collaboration with IBM, Micron will provide the industry's most capable memory offering.”

The 3D memory chips will only start selling in about three years and will be more fully detailed (the TSV in particular) at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in Washington, DC, on December 5.

“This is a milestone in the industry move to 3D semiconductor manufacturing,” said Subu Iyer, IBM Fellow.

“The manufacturing process we are rolling out will have applications beyond memory, enabling other industry segments as well. In the next few years, 3D chip technology will make its way into consumer products, and we can expect to see drastic improvements in battery life and functionality of devices.”


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