DRAM and Memory System Trends

Steven Woo, Rambus Inc.



Over the past 20 years, rising processor speeds and architectural advances such as superscalar processing and simultaneous multithreading have fueled dramatic increases in CPU performance. During this time DRAM performance has increased more slowly, forcing the performance of computer systems to become increasingly limited by their memory systems. More recently, additional challenges to DRAM and memory system design have come from emerging computing environments such as game consoles, graphics engines, laptops, and handhelds, whose requirements are different from those of previous computing systems. As these and other computing environments evolve, each will require memory systems that emphasize performance, form factor, power, and total system cost in different ways. Looking forward, increasing demands are being placed on memory systems as future systems increase performance through a combination of higher frequencies and architectural enhancements such as multiple processor cores. While memory latency continues to be important for future systems, the demand for memory bandwidth is growing. As memory system speeds increase to meet rising bandwidth demands, physical limitations are challenging the abilities of system designers to maintain good signal integrity and to deliver the bandwidth needed by these systems. This talk discusses some of the trends and challenges facing DRAMs and memory systems, and how both are evolving to meet the needs of future computing systems.



Steven Woo is a Senior Principal Engineer at Rambus Inc., one of the world's leading providers of advanced chip interface products and services. Since joining Rambus Inc. in 1996, Steve has worked on both the memory architecture team and the memory product planning and marketing team. Steve's past work at Rambus includes architecture development, performance analysis, thermal analysis, event-driven simulation, and product planning for Rambus memory technologies. Prior to joining Rambus, Steve worked in the Neural Network Technology Center at Hughes Aircraft Company, Ground Systems Group. Steve received BS Engineering (1986) and Master of Engineering (1988) degrees from Harvey Mudd College, and MS (1991) and PhD (1996) degrees in Electrical Engineering while working in the Computer Systems Laboratory at Stanford University.


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