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Oct 21, 2014

SK Hynix Releases 16 GB DDR4/NAND Combo Module Made of 20nm Chips

DDR4 memory seems to be coming out every other week now. Not as often as we might have expected or hoped perhaps, but often enough considering that consumer products still can't use the tech for the most part. SK Hynix has just made its latest contribution.

In the attached picture you have what SK Hynix claims is “the world's highest density 16 GB (Gigabytes) of NVDIMM (Non Volatile DIMM) based on 4 Gb (Gigabit) DDR4 using its advanced 20 nm class technology.” When taken all together, it's not as big a deal as it sounds, since NVDIMM is just one type of memory module. Also, it kind of pales in comparison to the 32 GB DDR4 Module from Samsung, the RVDIMM that we brought to you earlier today (October 21, 2014). But that's neither here nor there.

The SK Hynix 16 GB NVDIMM

In essence, the module combined DRAM and NAND Flash in a single module, along with the module controller microprocessor. This means that data from the DRAM is easily sent to NAND chips once the processing is complete. And with NAND having double the density of the DRAM, it can be done easily and repeatedly. Having all chips on the same PCB also reduces power loss from the transfer and means that data can be safely stored and restored in case of sudden power loss. All the while, the performance is no lower than that of standard DDR4 memory modules: 1.2V current, 2,133 MHz clock speed, 64-bit I/O, and processing speed of up to 17 GB of data per second.

Not bad at all for what is essentially a fusion of two technologies that were not initially envisioned as interchangeable, but which seem to be fusing and crossing over into each other's turf anyway. And with the extra stability enabled by NAND, the new NVDIMM from SK Hynix might just become the prime option on the server memory market. All that's left is for modules of higher capacity, and maybe other form factors, to adopt the NVDIMM memory/storage combo, and for the capacity to reach above 16 GB. Servers are famous for allowing much more than that per slot after all, and it would be a shame for things to stop here, or even slow down.

Availability and pricing

As is customary for enterprise/server products, the price wasn't revealed in the press release. Shipments should start shortly though, assuming they haven't already. Depends on how soon you get a call in and how viciously you haggle.

Press Release:SK Hynix Inc. announced that it has developed the world's highest density 16 GB (Gigabytes) of NVDIMM (Non Volatile DIMM) based on 4 Gb (Gigabit) DDR4 using its advanced 20 nm class technology.
This NVDIMM is able to send DRAM data to NAND Flash whose density is two times bigger than the DRAM in a unanticipated power loss by combining DRAM, NAND Flash and the module controller in a single module. Therefore, it is feasible to save and restore data safely as well as performing on the same level with general DDR4 modules. This new product works at 2133 Mbps and with a 64-bit I/O it processes up to 17 GB of data per second running at 1.2V.
SK Hynix says it has already provided the samples to several customers and the attention to the product from corporations developing server and operating system has been increasing. SK Hynix is expected to create new market demand in heavily increasing big data processing with the new product. The Company plans to start volume mass production of this from the first half of next year to provide the specialized solution to clients who are in need of higher level in data stability.
"The development of the world's highest density 16 GB DDR4 NVDIMM has its significance in leading a new memory solution sector" said Senior Vice President Sung Joo Hong, the Head of DRAM Development. "The Company will further strengthen its competitiveness in server memory market by developing such hybrid modules" he added.
Furthermore, SK Hynix is looking forward to consolidating its leadership in high density DDR4 server market with this development. In April, the Company developed the world's highest density 128 GB DDR4 module based on the industry's highest density DDR4 sole unit of 8 Gb and its 64 GB DDR4 module was the only DDR4 module certified by the latest 'Intel Validation'. The DDR4 interface is expected to be commercialized regularly from 2015 and the main standard in the industry from 2016.
According to Gartner, server DRAM market will grow 37% (on a unit base) in annual average until 2018 following expansion of mobile environment. Plus, according to IHS Technology, the portion of server in DRAM module market (on a unit base) is to expand prominently, which is expected to reach 33% in this year, 41% in the next year and 62% in 2018.

SK Hynix DDR4 memory
Image credits to SK Hynix

Microsoft Drops Nokia Brand, Replaces It with “Microsoft Lumia”

Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services unit earlier this year, and since then, the company tried to fully integrate the smartphone lineup into its offering with several subtle branding tweaks that hinted at more ambitious plans for the Redmond-based software giant.

Microsoft thus decided to give up on the Nokia brand and launch its very own, in order not only to complete the transition to a mobile world but also to emphasize that new smartphones do not belong to the Finnish manufacturer anymore. The Nokia brand will be replaced by Microsoft Lumia, and although the Softies are yet to release an official announcement in this regard, The Verge says that one could come very soon. Microsoft France appears to be the first division switching to Microsoft Lumia branding for social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, and all the others will follow very soon.

Nokia not yet dead

The decision to give up on the Nokia brand isn’t really surprising, because Microsoft already tried to let everyone know that its own lineup of devices was on its way. This summer for example, videos that were published online indicated that Windows Phone would be renamed to Windows, in an attempt to better capitalize on the popularity of the desktop operating system and attract more buyers. Microsoft often referred to Windows Phone as just “Windows” and offered hints that Nokia could soon be replaced by a new brand. Its name, however, was never disclosed.

But even though Microsoft gives up on Nokia, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this particular brand would go away entirely. Nokia still exists as a standalone entity, as Microsoft only purchased its Devices and Services unit, so all the other divisions still exist.

Microsoft or Windows handsets

Now that the Nokia branding will no longer show up on new smartphones, everyone’s wondering if Microsoft wants to use its name on the devices it builds or simply turn to the Windows logo. At the same time, the aforementioned source says that putting the Lumia or Microsoft brand on the front and back of the new devices is also possible, and so is a scenario that will see the company adopt the Microsoft Lumia branding for new handsets. This, however, is less likely, especially because it might not look good on smaller devices. Microsoft is expected to make a full announcement on this and share all details very soon, but the first handsets wearing the new brand should be here in just a couple of months.

Microsoft Lumia is the new brand of phones belonging to the Redmond-based giant
Image credits to Nokia / Microsoft

Impressive 32 GB DDR4 Module from Samsung Is Based on 20nm 8 Gb Chips

DIMM memory modules with a capacity of 128 GB will only be released in 2015, and 64 GB models are pretty rare too. However, it's a lot easier to release high-capacity RDIMM ones, especially when you're the one who's making the chips, as is the case with Samsung.

In case you didn't know, Samsung is one of the world's major suppliers of semiconductors. Sure, Intel may be the most famous CPU maker, but Samsung has its own range (ARM-based) and is a major name on the RAM and NAND Flash markets as well. It is the random access memory technology front where the group has just made its move. Samsung has formally released two products. Technically, it's one product and a second one based on it, but eh, details.

The 8 Gigabit DDR4 memory chip

This is the primary point of interest here. The chip has a storage space of 8 Gb, which is basically the same as one gigabyte. The chip is built on the 20nm manufacturing process, which ensures a high efficiency and lower cost of manufacture than other nodes. Which, in turn, should boil down to lower price for the chip itself and, in turn, for the module of 32 GB. Since the new memory is made of enterprise and business products, you can be sure that some clients will order the chips in bulk and make system boards and memory PCBs themselves.

The 32 GB DDR4 module

The RDIMM has a total capacity of 32 GB and a data rate of 2,400 megabits per second (Mbps) per pin, which is 29% faster than the normal performance of DDR3 (1,866 Mbps). Admittedly, DDR3 often works at 1,600 Mbps / MHz, but in enterprise applications it's hard to find anything slower than 1,866 Mbps, so the latter makes for a more accurate comparison. Either way, with DDR4 also providing a major decrease in power requirements, the benefits of upgrading to the new RAM easily offset the disadvantages. The RDIMM form factor should be compatible with all servers out there and the larger installations based on them, like data centers and clouds.

Availability and pricing

The memory should already be available for sale, but prices will be subject to order size and further negotiations. There are 4 Gb and 6 Gb chips as well. However, larger-capacity products like 128 GB modules will take a while to make. Not too long though, since Samsung already has 3D through silicon technology (TSV).

Press Release:
Samsung Electronics announced that it is mass producing the industry's most advanced 8-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 memory and 32-gigabyte (GB) module, both of which will be manufactured based on a new 20-nanometer (nm) process technology, for use in enterprise servers.
"Our new 20 nm 8 Gb DDR4 DRAM more than meets the high performance, high density and energy efficiency needs that are driving the proliferation of next-generation enterprise servers," said Jeeho Baek, Vice President of Memory Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "By expanding the production of our 20 nm DRAM line-ups, we will provide premium, high-density DRAM products, while handling increasing demand from customers in the global premium enterprise market."
With its new 8 Gb DDR4, Samsung now offers a full line-up of 20 nm-based DRAM to lead a new era of 20 nm DRAM efficiency that also includes the 20 nm 4 Gb DDR3 for PCs and the 20 nm 6 Gb LPDDR3 for mobile devices.
Using the new 8 Gb DDR4 chip, Samsung began producing the 32 GB registered dual in-line memory module (RDIMM) earlier this month. The new module's data transfer rate per pin reaches up to 2,400 megabits per second (Mbps), which delivers an approximately 29 percent performance increase, compared to the 1,866 Mbps bandwidth of a DDR3 server module.
Beyond the 32 GB modules, the new 8 Gb chips will allow production of server modules with a maximum capacity of 128 GB by applying 3D through silicon via (TSV) technology, which will encourage further expansion of the high-density DRAM market.
The new high density DDR4, also boasts improved error correction features, which will increase memory reliability in the design of enterprise servers. In addition, the new DDR4 chip and module use 1.2 volt, which is currently the lowest possible voltage.

Samsung 32 GB DDR4 module

Samsung 32 GB DDR4 module stock shot

Samsung 32 GB DDR4 module front view
Images credits to Samsung

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