MetaRAM, a Silicon Valley start-up, has come out of stealth mode with what it says is the answer to memory limitations faced by increasingly powerful servers. The chipset it developed lets computer makers or owners double or even quadruple the amount of memory in their system, making it possible to sharply reduce the cost of adding memory chips to server systems and workstations.
The chipset sits between the memory controller and the DRAM, allowing up to four times more mainstream DRAMs to be integrated into existing DIMMs. Because the chipset makes the multiple DRAMs look like a larger capacity DRAM to the memory controller, no design changes are necessary, circumventing the normal limitations of the memory controller.
Another effect would be to bring down the cost for high capacity memory modules. As explained by InternetNews:
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... 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 result is that standard entry level server facing a ceiling of 64 GB of memory can now be boasted up to 128 or even 256 GB when memory modules equipped with MetaRAM's chips are inserted. And this can be done much cheaper than in the past.
Bill Joy, former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems noted that MetaRAM's technology "will be increasingly important for jobs such as financial simulations and databases, which work much faster if the data they need are entirely stored in memory rather than on disk drives." MetaRAM has received money from three of the four founders of Sun Microsystems.
The company received its initial funding only in January 2006, which is a fast turnaround by all measures of the semiconductor world.
- Start-up to unveil memory advance (San Jose Mercury News)
- MetaRAM Says It Has Answer (Wall Street Journal)
- Putting terabytes of memory into servers, the cheap way (CNET News.com)
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.