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AMD multicore processors to support more memory

Bridget Botelho

Responding to demand for improved system memory capabilities on servers with multicore processors, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) released details today on its Socket G3 Memory Extender (G3MX).

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The platform-level technology will extend memory capacity in servers using soon-to-be-released multicore AMD Opteron processors.

The memory technology won't be available until 2009, however.

Customers clamor for more memory
"We have been getting requests from customers and OEMs since the first Opteron came out in 2003 to add more memory into servers somehow," said Diane Stapley, AMD Opteron systems strategy manager. "This is an industry-wide problem as applications become more threaded and demand more memory."

To design and build the G3MX, AMD worked with the memory technology community. With G3MX, the collaboration established a means of increasing total memory in a server system using DDR3-based RAM for maximum flexibility.

Once it becomes available, the G3MX will serve as an alternative to fully buffered dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs). The G3MX will reside directly on the motherboard, so users won't have to add memory sticks and latency, Stapley said. G3MX may thus address memory capacity concerns without introducing new ones, such as power consumption.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight64 who is knowledgeable about the processor industry and AMD's G3MX, said the innovation helps handle the increased memory demands of applications as more processor cores are added.

"In the past, AMD has been able to attach enough memory to its processors to balance systems, but as you go to quad and octal core, you need more memory per processor," Brookwood said. "People who want to add more memory have had to use a fully buffered DIMM [FB-DIMM], which has struggled in recent years. This has the benefits of fully buffered DIMM without the issues."

The issues to which Brookwood referred include the substantial cost of adding each memory module and the excessive power each buffered DIMM burns -- around 5 or 6 watts -- adding power consumption and heat to servers.

Contrary to this view, Intel Corp., which uses fully buffered DIMMs, reports that an FB-DIMM may ultimately provide lower total cost of ownership than an alternative like G3MX because of greater reliability and memory capacity.

But Brookfield said that the G3MX should give users the ability to hang more memory on their AMD multicore processors without adding too much power or cost.

Today, users have the choice of either dual-core or quad-core processors, which support four or eight DIMMs, respectively. Using AMD's memory extender technology would increase the number of DIMMs to eight or 16, depending on the number of cores, Stapley said.

The extended platform memory capabilities via the G3MX memory technology will also allow the use of bigger memory capacities with industry-standard, off-the-shelf DDR3 DIMMs for large workloads, according to AMD.

"This is a much more leveraged way of doing it, and motherboards are very custom anyway, so you can just throw a couple chips down by each bank of memory, and the rest of it is standard," Brookwood said. "AMD's technology really only impacts the guys who develop the motherboards instead of the memory module designers."

The specifications for G3MX were developed in conjunction with memory companies  Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) and  Inphi Corp. IDT and Inphi will manufacture the technology and sell it as part of their power- and cost-effective memory device portfolios. AMD would not provide pricing details.

 

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail  Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

Also, check out our news blog at serverspecs.blogs.techtarget.com.


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