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Rambus tests low-power memory controller

Rambus tests low-power memory controller

The latest memory controllers from the MMI group at Rambus use a third less power than their predecessors - and a fifth of that used by a traditional controller.

Mobile user rejoice - memory specialist Rambus has announced a new technology which cuts the power usage of RAM in portable devices by around a third.

As reported over on SlashGear, the new memory technology - developed as part of the company's Mobile Memory Initiative - has been proven in a prototype described by Rambus as a "silicon test vehicle" as providing around a one-third power saving over traditional mobile RAM.

According to Rambus, a traditional low-power DDR2 400 memory controller uses around 10mW/Gbps - that's ten milliwatts for every gigabit per second of memory bandwidth. The latest prototype from the MMI group achieves the same performance in just 2.2mW/Gbps - almost a fifth of the power used by a traditional memory controller, and a third less than the company's first-generation MMI controllers through clever use of advanced power state management and very low-swing differential signalling along with the company's FlexClocking technology.

While the difference of a few milliwatts might sound like splitting hairs in a notebook, the company is primarily aiming the new memory controller technology at devices with significantly smaller batteries - smartphones, netbooks, and portable gaming and media devices.

Martin Scott, the company's vice president of research and technology development, said that "the performance demands of next-generation mobile devices are vastly outstripping the pace of battery technology improvements," and hopes that "with the innovations developed through our Mobile Memory Initiative, [Rambus] can deliver advanced applications and maintain long battery life through our breakthroughs in both bandwidth performance and power efficiency"

So far, Rambus has not indicated which - if any - OEMs it is planning to licence this technology to, and neither has it said when devices including the MMI controller will hit the market.

Are you pleased to see that it's not just mobile processor manufacturers who are trying to shed the milliwatts, or is Rambus making incremental improvements that will have no real effect on end-user battery life? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

7 Comments

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TWeaK 22nd October 2009, 23:47 Quote
Surely it's a bit late to be applying this to DDR2?
docodine 23rd October 2009, 00:16 Quote
Does RAM use that much power anyway?
iwod 23rd October 2009, 03:58 Quote
Because Ram needs constant refresh, any saving in the Ram Power Usage ( especially in Mobile Devices ) will be very beneficial. iPhone comes into mind.
perplekks45 23rd October 2009, 09:11 Quote
It's not too late for DDR2 I guess. Just because we use DDR3/DDR5 in PCs doesn't mean mobile technology uses the same. As far as I know, they're always one or two generations "behind".
Dave Lister 23rd October 2009, 09:26 Quote
This can only be a good thing
Denithor 23rd October 2009, 17:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
This can only be a good thing

...until you remember this is Rambus we're discussing and they will probably charge far too much in royalties to make this feasible for most applications.
Stormwulf 26th October 2009, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denithor
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
This can only be a good thing

...until you remember this is Rambus we're discussing and they will probably charge far too much in royalties to make this feasible for most applications.

+1
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