SAN JOSE -- Consistent with its emphasis on bandwidth over density, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. here today unveiled a family of quad-port RAM devices designed to allow data-intensive network traffic to flow more smoothly.
The product family is Cypress' latest effort to bring its traditional SRAM strengths to bear in fast-growing markets such as Internet-access equipment and storage-area networks.
"The whole metric has changed in terms of what's valuable in an SRAM," said Geoff Charubin, director of specialty memories at Cypress' Datacom Division. "Cost per bit is much less important than bandwidth when you're talking about moving data around on a network."
Cypress said its quad-port RAM will likely find homes in RAID storage systems, routers, remote-access equipment, cellular base stations, and high-end graphics systems. In some of these systems, it's not uncommon to find several speeds of network protocols-T1, E1, OC-3, or Ethernet-all coming into the same box, Charubin said.
The CY7C0430V features 1 megabit of SRAM in a 64-K-x-18 configuration. Each of its four ports can read or write at up to 133 MHz, for a total bandwidth of 9.6 gigabits per second. Each port operates on a separate clock, allowing simultaneous access to the memory at different speeds, while a synchronous pipelined architecture provides consistent clocking for more efficient system design.
Cypress has also built in a number of features for ease of use, including 3.3-V TTL I/Os, built-in self test, and maskable burst counters, which give the RAM a FIFO-like quality. A wider-spaced, 1.27-mm BGA package also provides better routability and ease of handling, the company said.
Though multiport memory today is an almost negligible portion of the overall SRAM market, it's the fastest-growing specialty-memory segment. According to Cypress estimates, quad-port RAM will grow at a compound annual rate of 50% in the next five years. By 2004, Cypress said, revenue will grow to nearly $60 million, accounting for some 20% of the total specialty-memory market.
Cypress aims to capture at least a two-thirds share of the quad-port market by being first with a 1-Mbit device, Charubin said.
The company stands a good chance of reaching that goal, according to Dataquest, a San Jose-based market researcher. In a recent report, the research firm declared the FIFO and dual-port memory segment a two-horse race, with Integrated Device Technology Inc. as Cypress' only challenger. According to Dataquest analyst Jim Handy, specialty-memory components such as these are typically either sole-sourced or sourced by two or three vendors at the most.
"This means that these [suppliers] can get a handsome profit on a relatively small business," Handy said.
Cypress' quad-port RAM family is based on its RAM5 SRAM technology, built in low-cost 0.25-micron CMOS. But while previous SRAMs used a six-transistor cell, the quad-port family employs a 12-transistor structure for increased performance.
"We designed this memory cell internally to enable true simultaneous access to all memory locations from each port," said Richard Quon, product marketing manager for specialty memories.
Samples of the 1-Mbit device with 100-MHz bidirectional operation will roll out in the first quarter of 2000, and will be qualified for the commercial temperature range.
Pricing in 10,000-unit lots for the CY7C0430V-100BGC is $98. An industrial version will follow in the second quarter for about $25 more, with a 133-MHz commercial version, also slated for the second quarter, priced at $130.