MetaRAM Bets On High Capacity Memory Breakthrough

New company debuts with high capacity DRAM using cheaper, low capacity chips.
Posted February 25, 2008
By

Andy Patrizio


A Silicon Valley startup says it can deliver a 90 percent reduction in the cost of a decked out server by a breakthrough in memory technology.

MetaRAM, founded by Fred Weber, a former chief technology officer at AMD, is going public today with its MetaSDRAM. The technology doubles the memory on a memory stick by using cheaper memory components. The company doesn't sell memory chips or sticks or have a fabrication plant. Instead, it makes an interface chip that does the real work.

Weber noted that as memory goes up in capacity, the price increase is not in parity with the memory increase. A quick check of memory prices on Pricewatch.com, which specializes in looking for hardware bargains online, bears this out.

A 1GB memory stick for a Compaq ProLiant is $44, a 2GB costs $132 (3x the price for 2x the memory), a 4GB stick is $259 (a near 1:1 increase), an 8GB stick is $841 (3.2x the price of the 4GB) and a 16GB stick is a ridiculous $10,920, almost 13 times the price for twice the memory.

The reason for this, said Weber, is that the higher capacity memory sticks use higher density DRAM chips, which cost more to make and have a higher failure rate. So memory makers pass on that cost. The 1 gigabit chips that comprise a memory DIMM are the mass-market chips that can be made in large quantities and cheaply, while 2 gigabit chips are much more expensive.

"There's not nearly as much competition in the two gigabit space because it's so expensive and very few vendors can make them. So it has a high price and high mark up," Weber told InternetNews.com. "So our solution was to take one gigabit DRAM, which sells for two bucks, and allow people to use that standard DRAM to build much bigger DIMMs than they normally could."

The MetaSDRAM chipset is a controller that sits between the chips on a DRAM stick that enables up to four times more mainstream DRAMs to be integrated into existing DIMM stick without the need for any hardware or software changes. As a result, 8GB and 16GB DRAM sticks are possible for a fraction of their normal price.

"We haven't changed the DRAM. We use off-the-shelf 1 gigabit DRAMS and our chip fits between the DRAMS and the edge connector acts like a buffer. We figured out how to let them put more of their DRAMs onto a single DIMM," said Weber.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.






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