Memory // Innovations

What’s Next for Persistent Memory?

By Ryan Baxter - 2016-08-18

In my last update discussing the significant momentum for NVDIMM, I left you hanging a bit—what’s next? First, I’m happy to announce that Micron is currently sampling a 16GB NVDIMM module that will move to production this fall. This doubles the current capacity, providing much more space for in-memory applications. We have a near-term roadmap for additional capacity increases as well.

Second, we see a long runway ahead for persistent memory solutions. To explain some of the reasons why, let’s look at a visual of the storage/memory hierarchy (click on the image to enlarge):

NVDIMM hierarchy

As we look to the memory side of the chart, you can see that using 3D XPoint memory on the DRAM bus will allow us to begin to bridge the latency gaps that exist between traditional DRAM and the fastest storage technologies (like our newly announced QuantX™ Technology SSDs)—both in a latency/performance and a cost perspective. Micron’s view is that there will eventually be persistent memory solutions at a variety of performance and cost points, providing a true hierarchy of options based on what the system architect is trying to achieve. What’s not shown by this chart is the significant capacities future solutions will provide. We’re going to be able to place much more data close to the processor on persistent memory. 

And you’ll also note that the best performance is still clearly coming from DRAM and DRAM-based NVDIMMs. The most demanding applications are still going to need a significant mix of DRAM technologies to get the performance they want. But they will have some very interesting options to create tiered systems—interesting, but also complex. We see an opportunity for Micron to provide significant value to our customers by helping them determine the best mix for the specific problem they’re trying to solve.

You can tell why we think it’s an excellent time to be a memory and storage company. With so many options, system architects need to pay much more attention to how memory and storage technologies interact to get the best results—it requires a depth of knowledge that many of them simply can’t afford to learn themselves; the technology is changing quickly and they don’t have the time. This is expertise we provide to our customers through close collaboration and an increased focus on end-system applications results. We pay a lot of attention to how various storage configurations and memory tweaks can affect those end results. We’re building out a software excellence center in Austin to focus on this and developing applications expertise in ways that simply weren’t needed in the past—being able to show end application, end-user results is becoming a more and more important part of our business.

Ryan Baxter

Ryan Baxter