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Nehalem sits cosily with 288GB on a dual-socket mobo

IDF Spring 2008 Meet MetaRAMbo
Fri Apr 04 2008, 20:32

THERE WERE several Nehalem demo systems and boards around the tech showcase at Intel' Shanghai Developers Forum this week.

One of them was particularly interesting - a dual-socket, six-channel DDR3 Tylersburg DP Gainestown-based board from Intel, a server variant with six DDR3-1333 DIMM sockets per CPU (12 total), at the MetaRAM booth.

As you can see from our photo, the board had only one CPU installed, with a "quickie fix" fan put on top of a large aluminum heatsink - and the fan was cool to the touch while the demo was running, even when putting task loads on. The Tylersburg IOH North Bridge had a fan on top too.

What's interesting here is that the single 8GB MetaRAM Hynix DDR3 DIMM on display is just the start. Up to 16GB DDR3-1333 modules can be created, allowing up to 96GB RAM per CPU, or 192GB per dual-CPU board. If you go for slower DDR3-1066 and boards with three DIMMs per channel,- nine DIMMs per CPU - we have 144GB per CPU, or 288GB memory per mobo!

However, the supposed up to 6ns - 8 DDR3-1333 CAS cycles - MetaRAM chip latency penalty could be a bit of a drawback for jobs with lots of short memory accesses. However, for in-memory databases or large scientific models, the amount of RAM is far more important than its bandwidth or latency. Not to mention that, with improved large-page TLBs, Nehalems should handle big memory tasks better.

On the other hand, the registered DDR3 server memory will be available in up to 8GB capacity, with somewhat lesser latency penalty. So, for Gainestown dual Nehalem workstations and servers, if happy with up to 2GB per-DIMM capacity (24 GB RAM total), stick with fast unbuffered - ECC or not - standard modules. If you need more, i.e. 48 to 96GB total RAM, the registered DDR3 should do the job. And, if in need of ultra-large memory footprint and 192GB or RAM on your desktop from late 2008, then MetaRAM seems to be the only answer.

Take a look at the possible application for that RAM - Intel's demo Dual Gainestown - Nehalem - workstation supercomputer working on large memory problems, all that displayed, of course, on dual ATI FireGL 7700 DisplayPort graphics cards! As we said before, Intel is far more likely to support DAAMIT GPU operation vs Nvidian Green Goblins, at least until the Larrabees hive is ready to produce some ca$h honey...

In the meantime, let's see how MetaRAM actually performs - DDR2 or DDR3, for that mater. Watch this space. µ


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