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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Rambus to Boost Mobile Computing Power


Rambus, a technology licensing company specializing in high-speed memory architectures, claims that it can sharply boost the computing power of cellphones and other portable devices.

The company said it has now developed technology that can allow a microprocessor in a cellphone to fetch data at extremely high speeds from memory chips, while conserving energy to extend the battery life of handsets.

This development effort focuses on high-bandwidth, low-power memory technologies targeted at achieving data rates of 4.3Gbps while it maintains best-in-class power efficiency. With this performance, designers could realize more than 17 Gigabytes per second of memory bandwidth from a single mobile DRAM device. These technologies enable a memory architecture ideal for next-generation smartphones, netbooks, portable gaming, and portable media products.

"As consumer expectations grow for more media-rich applications on their mobile devices, new memory solutions will be needed to keep pace with the rapidly increasing bandwidth requirements," said Martin Scott, senior vice president of Research and Technology Development at Rambus.

Rambus will demonstrate a silicon test vehicle for its Mobile Memory Initiative at DesignCon 2009. The company will actually show two 40nm test chips mounted in a package-on-package arrangement with one acting as a receiver and the other as a transmitter. The device will deliver 4.3 Gbits/s at 3 milliwatts per Gbit/s.

The technology combines the robust signaling qualities of a differential architecture with innovative circuit techniques to greatly reduce active power consumption. It is also based on a slightly modified version of the FlexClocking technique - a clock-forwarded and clock-distributed topology - used on the Rambus XDR interface, implemented on the Sony Playstation3. Like XDR, the mobile interface drives most of its complexity to the controller, keeping the DRAM design relatively simple.

In conjunction with the FlexClocking architecture, the new technology provides fast switching times between power-saving modes delivering optimized power efficiency.

Rambus? Mobile Memory Initiative also incorporates key innovations such as FlexPhase and Microthreading technology.

The big questions facing the initiative are whether Rambus will to drive the technology to adoption.

Several top memory makers have tangled with Rambus for years in court actions over royalty suits on patents in areas such as SDRAMs.


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