IBM has developed a prototype of what the company claims is the smallest, densest and fastest on-chip memory, which could lead to higher performing electronics from servers to consumer gear.
IBM built the technology for use in next-generation 32-nanometer processors. The embedded dynamic random access memory, or eDRAM, is integrated on the same die as a multi-core processor, instead of using external DRAM modules and transistor-based static random access memory, or SRAM, that's typically used for caches.
IBM built its eDRAM using 32-nm, silicon-on-insulator technology that protects the transistors on the chip with a "blanket" of insulation that reduces electrical leakage. As a result, the SOI technology provides up to a 30% improvement in chip performance and a 40% reduction in power consumption, compared to standard silicon technology, according to IBM.
In comparing its eDRAM cell with 32-nm embedded SRAM, IBM says its technology is up to four times as dense, which means it can help produce smaller, more efficient processors that can process more data. IBM claims its embedded memory is the fastest today, achieving latency and cycle times of less than 2 nanoseconds. In addition, it uses four times less standby power.
Embedded memory provides a performance boost for multi-core processors, and the IBM prototype can provide system performance and energy savings in high-performance server, printer, storage and networking applications. In addition, the same benefits can apply to mobile, consumer and game applications, the vendor said.
IBM plans to take its 32-nm SOI technology to a wide range of application-specific integrated circuity and foundry clients and will also use the technology in chips for its own servers.
"We are making this 32-nm offering available to clients who are ready to benefit from the significant performance and power advantages of this seventh generation of IBM SOI technology," Gary Patton, VP for IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center, said in a statement.
IBM is a member of the SOI Industry Consortium, an international group formed to promote SOI technology across semiconductor markets.
IBM first introduced its denser eDRAM in 2007 at the International Solid State Circuits Conference. The technology has been used in IBM's Power and Cell processors.
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