MetaRAM to Support DDR3, Nehalem

MetaRAM is expanding its increased memory capacity technology to Double Data Rate 3 (DDR3) memory, to be used in Intel’s forthcoming Core i7 processors, formerly known as “Nehalem” — giving the company the opening into the Intel server market it had previously lacked.

MetaRAM makes memory controller chips that go on a memory stick, called a DIMM . These controllers allow for a cheaper way of using more memory chips on the stick, increasing the memory capacity of each DIMM while cutting the price tag.

Currently, MetaRAM supports DDR2, which is used in Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) desktops and AMD desktops and servers. Intel uses fully buffered DIMM (FBDIMM) in its Xeon servers, which has kept MetaRAM out of that market. Now, however, the company has a way into the space as Intel adopts DDR3.

“With DDR2, we were primarily focused on the AMD portion of the market. With this, we can focus on the Intel portion of the market,” Suresh Rajan, vice president of marketing for MetaRAM, told

DDR3 is very fast, up to 1.33Ghz, compared to DDR2’s 800MHz. It will also support capacity of up to 8 Gbits per chip while consuming 30 percent less power than DDR2.

The new market may help MetaRAM as it seeks to gain traction for its approach to building DIMMs.

Typically, memory grows increasingly expensive as capacities increase. Memory DIMMs are built on either 1 gigabit (Gbit) or 2 gigabit DRAM chips, with either eight or 16 chips per DIMM. Each 1 Gbit DRAM chip costs around $2 to $2.50, while 2 Gbit chips run $25 each because they are much more difficult to manufacture in bulk, Rajan said. (He added those prices are for DDR2, and that the prices for DDR3 are not yet known.)

As a result, 4GB and 8GB DIMMs are many times more expensive than a 1GB or 2GB DIMM, getting into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. MetaRAM’s solution is to use more 1 Gbit chips on a memory DIMM, as twice the number of 1 Gbit chips is still far cheaper than half as many 2 Gbit chips. Its controllers are the secret sauce that handles all those chips on one DIMM.

“People are looking to consolidate four or five servers into one for high utilization,” he said. “For this trend to take off, they need to be able to put a high amount of RAM into that server. MetaRAM lets them do that cost-effectively.”

MetaRAM offers its new DDR3 MetaSDRAM chipset in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB versions. All operate at bus speeds up to 1,333 million transactions per second (MT/s), with the exception of the 16GB chipset, which runs at up to 1066 MT/s.

Another benefit to MetaRAM’s DDR3 DIMMs is that they will be able to keep their 1.33GHz performance when normal standard DRAM would lose performance as more memory is added.

The more DIMMs in a machine, the more frequency typically drops off, Rajan said. “You don’t have to make that sacrifice here,” he added.

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