DDR5 MCR DIMM: SK Hynix brings fastest server RAM with Renesas and Intel


Three company collaboration produces DDR5-8000 as MCR-DIMM. The trick here are data buffer chips, which Renesas has developed over a long period of time, which can effectively double the data rate. Intel wants to use the modules as a future solution and thus close some gaps in Optane.

Intel Optane is dead, Intel itself has already declared that. Sapphire Rapids are still coming onto the market with a new generation, but that's the end of it. The future lies in classic memory plus CXL modules. This is exactly where the new DDR5 memory comes in, making even more bandwidth available on this side, while CXL will dominate in other areas.

Intel's move to SK Hynix as a memory manufacturer this time is interesting. Optane was developed with Micron at the time, but never went beyond a niche product. It should not only revolutionize the world in RAM, but also be a snappy alternative to NAND. But high costs and other problems finally sealed the end, Micron had practically said goodbye to the topic internally years ago, Intel only pulled the ripcord in the summer of 2022.

Three years of development

However, the DDR5 Multiplexer Combined Ranks (MCR) Dual In-line Memory Modules are not as revolutionary as 3D XPoint, although many considerations and, above all, time have gone into them. This is shown, among other things, by the statement by Renesas, who developed the buffer chip: It took them three years to develop the chip from the idea and concept to a final product.

DDR5-8000 as MCR-DIMM (image: SK Hynix)< /figure>

The approach aims at the speed or data transfer rate of the entire memory module and not the individual chips installed on it. The data buffer now bundles this performance of the chips and thus theoretically doubles it.

By enabling simultaneous operation of two ranks, MCR DIMM allows transmission of 128 bytes of data to CPU at once, compared with 64 bytes fetched generally in conventional DRAM module. An increase in the amount of data sent to the CPU each time supports the data transfer rate of minimum 8Gbps, twice as fast as a single DRAM.

As a result, the starting value for the modules is DDR5-8000 as a minimum, instead of DDR5-4800 (significantly less in larger configurations). With faster chips than the basic building block, the spiral for faster modules can ultimately be screwed up twice as fast.

In the server environment, however, CXL will become increasingly important in the coming years, but DDR memory will of course not disappear. With higher speeds at perhaps a lower premium than CXL modules, the gap could be smaller in some areas. As chip manufacturer Marvell recently pointed out, this can sometimes be huge.

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