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Samsung CXL DDR5 Memory, Tachyum Universal Processor And Imec’s Liquid Memories

Some recent memory and processing advances are discussed in this article. We look at the latest Samsung CXL DDR5 memory announcement as well as Tachyum’s recently announced Prodigy Universal Processor chip. We also look at two recent announcements of liquid-based volumetric memory technologies from imec.

In May 2021 Samsung announced the industry’s first Compute Express Link (CXL) memory module with a field programmable (FPGA) controller on a Double Data Rate 5 (DDR5) module. This announcement also said that it could scale to the terabyte level. Recently Samsung announced a 512GB CXL DDR5 DRAM with an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) controller. Samsung said that this new CXL memory module has four times the capacity and one-fifth the system latency over the May 2021 offering. The image below shows the new CXL memory module.

They also said the new CXL memory module can scale to tens of TBs. The product will come in an EDSFF (E3.S) form factor for use in high-capacity enterprise servers and data centers. Samsung also said that it will introduce an updated version of its open-source Scalable Memory Development Kit (SMDK) that allows the CXL memory expander to work in heterogeneous memory systems with various performance and capacity memory modules. Samsung said that it would begin sampling its 512GB CXL DRAM with customers and partners for testing in the third quarter of 2022 for integration in the next generation of server platforms.

Startup, Tachyum, launched its universal processor, Prodigy, that the company says unifies the functionality of a CPU, GPU and TPU in a single processor, while delivering massive performance improvements at a cost many times less than competing products. The company says that, “The Prodigy Cloud/AI/HPC supercomputer processor chip offers 4x the performance of the fastest Xeon, has 3x more raw performance than NVIDIA’s H100 on HPC and has 6x more raw performance on AI training and inference workloads, and up to 10x performance at the same power.” The image below shows some of the features of the new chip.

The company says that sampling for Prodigy will begin later this year with volume production taking place in the first half of 2023. Tachyum’s Prodigy family includes eight products, ranging from the 128-core HPC/AI at the high end to a 32-core lowest-power version, to address a wide range of markets, including cloud, supercomputing, Big AI and edge. The company’s roadmap shows a Prodigy 2 chip in the 2nd half of 2024.

Imec, the semiconductor and nanotechnology global research center in Leuven, Belgium recently announced work on a liquid-based memory for high density storage applications. The research consortium is working on two versions of liquid-based memory. One based on a colloidal system and the other based on electrolithic memory. These technologies might provide storage for archived inactive data. The liquid storage media is being pursued to provide a high volumetric storage system with the liquid containing ions, molecules or nano-particles which can be moved to an access device that is part of a dense array.

In the colloidal memory system, shown below, liquid (e.g., water) can be used as the volumetric storage medium and dissolved nanoparticles (the colloid) as carriers of the data symbols. The idea is to use a colloid of (at least) two types of nanoparticles (A and B) contained in a reservoir. This reservoir is attached to an array of capillaries, into which the nanoparticles can be inserted. Provided that the nanoparticles are only slightly smaller than the diameter of the capillaries, the sequence in which the particles (the bits) are entered into the capillaries can be preserved. It is in this bit sequence that information can be encoded. The nanoparticles can be selectively induced (and sensed) by electrodes positioned at the entrance of each capillary. A CMOS peripheral circuit controls the array of electrodes.

Like the colloidal memory, the electrolithic memory also uses a fluid reservoir and an array of capillaries. But in this case, metal ions are dissolved in the liquid, and the read and write operations are achieved by the more conventional electrodeposition and -dissolution techniques. Both the colloidal and electrolithic memory development is at a very early stage with any products projected sometime in the next decade.

Samsung introduced a 512GB CXL DDR5 memory module for the next generation of servers. Tachyum announced early availability of its Prodigy Universal Processor. Imec revealed early work on two types of liquid-based volumetric memory technologies.


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