SAN JOSE, Calif. – Intel’s new embedded DRAM technology is expected to compete favorably with discrete graphics chips in high-end notebooks this year and later appear in sever. The x86 giant described at the recent VLSI Symposium the technology its sees as a forerunner to 3-D ICs.
Using its eDRAM technology, Intel built a discrete 128 Mbyte L4 cache chip with a 100 microsecond retention time at a worst case 95 degrees C. It will fit in a Haswell package linking to the CPU die via a 100 Gbyte/second point-to-point link, adding about 3W to the component.
The technology reaches “part of the design space you can’t hit with commodity DRAM,” such as GDDR-5 chips that would offer half the bandwidth and consume more power, said David Kanter, microprocessor analyst for Real World Tech.
OEMs including Apple are expected to use in their top-end notebooks the Haswell eDRAM module at about 45W to save space and power while sacrificing little performance. It will replace a combo of discrete graphics chips dissipating about 40W and existing processors drawing 30W.
“This is pretty attractive for premium notebooks, and I think we will see it in servers next,” said Kanter.
IBM pioneered the use of eDRAM in a logic process, packing up to 80 Mbytes cache on its Power chips for high-end servers. Intel and IBM may have a unique ability to field the technology which requires advances in both process and circuit design.