IN JUST under half a year, the Serial Port Memory Technology (SPMT) consortium has gone from a cunning plan to a full set of specifications for their upcoming Serial Port DRAM (SPDRAM) interface.
As you might be aware, so far serial memory interfaces have been dominated by IP junkies like Rambus, but this time it isn't so.
The SPMT group is headed by our favourite Korean DRAMurai - Hynix, Samsung and LG - with a hand from God, sorry, ARM and Silicon Image, and it wants to take on existing parallel memory interfaces with the new 'standard'. SPMT isn't a Serial-DRAM technology per se, but an interface that will serialise your memory setup with the benefits of reduced power and footprint.
The specification also has some very aggressive targets: a max 12GB/s bandwidth (roughly equivalent to DDR2-800 levels), up to 50 per cent power savings, 60~80 per cent reduction in the interface footprint and a lot of flexibility in the implementation when compared to parallel setups.
Mobile devices are the first target for this technology, rather than your usual desktop setup. Servers too would be a niche for it, but a lack of ECC could put developers off for good.
The consortium churned out the specs in a rather impressive sub-six month period (May to October), which makes a fair point towards small interest groups with a lot of clout. They just won't sit around all day twiddling their thumbs and sipping on martinis.
We're now looking at the rather distant year of 2012 as the target for volume production of this technology, which seems to be the biggest downside to it all. On the plus side, SPMT members will get to use the technology royalty-free, which is a definite two-finger salute at some other DRAM developers. µ
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