DRAM KGD Integration in Embedded Applications

By Sven Evers - 2016-10-11

Industrial automation, transportation systems, communications networks, advanced medical devices, and aerospace systems collectively drive huge demand for embedded processing. The standardization of board sizes and the availability of off-the shelf single board computers is a critical factor in driving manufacturing volumes and keeping embedded computing device costs low. With processor performance of embedded systems now exceeding what used to be considered a high performance PC, memory requirements are skyrocketing in terms of both performance and density. Yet with all of the additional functions and interfaces on these small boards, the available space is very limited.  Modern 32 and 64 bit processors require wide memory word widths so the number of memory devices on these boards is also driven by the need to support wide data buses.

The challenge for designers is to pack more capability on to these fixed size boards. New features, greater performance, and more memory are all expected while single board computer board standards shrink in size. Power consumption, thermal characteristics, and air flow are also important design factors as environmental conditions where many embedded devices operate are not controlled and cooling means are both large and costly.

Often considered the primary concern of military and aerospace system developers, the large number of embedded computers in operation are expected to function flawlessly over many hours of lifetime service.  The cost of an embedded computer is generally quite modest but repair or replacement costs can be intolerable.  Many of these applications are in harsh environments, transportations and industrial automation systems as examples, where extended temperature and proven reliability are expected.  Memory devices used in embedded systems frequently borrow from the personal computer world as DIMM sticks. These have become too large for many newer systems and being socketed, as opposed to soldered onto the circuit board, are a potential weak point in the reliability.   Single Board Computers (SBC) subjected to mechanical shock and vibration are at risk of DIMMs losing connection to the socket and causing system failure.  An ideal memory device for these applications should have the following features:

  • High density for board space savings and reduction of component count
  • Wide word width to support standard processors
  • Low profile for tight board stacking in systems with multiple boards
  • Directly PCB mountable with suitable thermal characteristics
  • Low power dissipation 
  • Wide temperature operation for operation in harsh environments
  • Easy layout and trace routing with conservative pin pitch to keep main board costs low
  • Advanced DDR3 and DDR4 compatibility

Micron is actively enabling memory solution partners to achieve these goals with close collaboration though providing products in wafer form, Known Good Die (KGD), engineering support, and design services. An example of a successful collaboration is between STACKED Technologies and Micron’s Embedded Business Unit. Working together has enabled the development of a 4 Gigabyte wide word BGA using Micron’s advanced DDR3 die. Micron also helps system integrators achieve faster time to market with advanced testing support, which is key to gaining design wins. Micron has always led the way in teaming with other silicon manufacturers, system integrators, and chip set vendors. This support is increasing year over year and Micron is innovating new engagement approaches and developing additional service levels that go beyond traditional support. At Micron, we are driving collaboration between various partners who are setting the pace with leading edge products across a broad range of end applications.

If you have interest in knowing more about STACKED Technologies or have applications needing DRAM probed wafers, or other memory products such as NAND or NOR - Micron has dedicated technical resources for support and we can help get you to market rapidly. Feel free to contact your Micron sales representative or leave a comment below for additional information.

Amit Gattani

Sven Evers