Dram, the memory used in computers today, is entering its fifth decade, and it has been feeling its age. Processors today spend much of their time waiting for grandpa Dram to get out of its rocker, grab its walker, creep over and fetch the information they requested. Thanks to a revolutionary discovery, grandpa has found the fountain of youth, and he’s feeling quite spry. “What is this discovery and how does it work,” you’re no doubt wondering? Keep reading to find out.
Dram, invented in 1966 at IBM, is used in billions of devices. As time has progressed, several evolutionary changes have been made to the design and packaging of this module, culminating in today’s popular DDR3 modules, and the soon to be released DDR4. Each of these changes have made memory access a little faster, a little more reliable, but the newest change is not evolutionary, it’s revolutionary.
Enter HMC, hybrid memory cube. Here’s the general principle. Step 1: take several dram chips, and stack them together. Step 2: Link them all to a high speed logic chip. To put it in more technical terms, “HMC Combines high-speed logic process technology with a stack of through-silicon-via (TSV) bonded memory die,” according to the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium. This brings several advantages. HMC technology brings a huge speed increase, at least fifteen times faster than traditional modules. That’s right, fifteen times faster than the fastest chip on the market now. In addition, the hybrid memory cube uses 70 percent less power than today’s memory. Can you say “long battery life?” How about picturing your iPhone 6S’s battery lasting a week? Finally, this new tech uses only ten percent of the physical space required by today’s RDIMMs. So, to brake it down, we’re talking about devices that are 15 times faster, 90 percent smaller, and use 70 percent less power than is currently available. Perhaps the expression, “what’s in your wallet?” will bring on a whole new meaning.
With the advances we’re seeing today, consider what we can expect just a few years from now. Technicians have managed to place a personal computer inside a pin, which includes a keyboard and monitor which the pin projects on a flat desk and wall respectively, a camera, internet, cell phone, etc. Apple’s Siri and google’s voice controlled services, voice based interaction is becoming real. Dream about this. Imagine a computer in your wallet. This computer, who we’ll call Selma requires no keyboard, she understands voice commands with no problem. The computer needs no monitor, projection is built in. Selma has built in data and phone capabilities, and can fetch anything online, even your data which you’ve been adding to the cloud for years. I don’t know if Selma has an apple logo on her back or maybe Google’s logo, but I do know Selma is coming, she’s almost here.
Speculation aside, there are some serious changes coming down the pipe for computer users. As components grow smaller and power requirements drop, computers will be able to do much more with much less. Our grandchildren will be amazed that we used such old and clunky technology. The hybrid memory cube is not far from commercial use, and we can only wait and see what innovations it will spur on. In the mean time, take advantage of the tech that’s available now. Make sure your computers are running their best with the latest processors and ram. Take advantage of services that let you keep data in the cloud. Most important, keep a close eye on tech blogs like this one, it’s the best way to keep up to date.