Rambus Aims for New Ultralow-Power DRAM

New mobile-memory initiative aimed at high-bandwidth, low-power smart phones

2 min read

2 February 2009—Rambus, in Los Altos, Calif., says it has developed a technology to create ultrafast, ultralow-power memory chips for today’s cellphones and future generations of all-purpose mobile platforms. The goal is a single DRAM device with 17 gigabytes per second of bandwidth, 16 times as much as what the low-power DDR3 memory chips in laptops have now. Rambus will demonstrate its test chip this week at DesignCon 2009, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Because consumers are demanding more from smaller packages—the iPhone is a prime example—there are more chips in a smart phone, and they have to be squeezed in pretty tightly. That creates two problems: space constraints and reduced battery life. The Rambus technology aims to kill two birds with one stone. Higher bandwidth means that you can gain access to more memory without adding more chips, and by optimizing the power consumption in the memory, you can increase battery life for the entire phone.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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