Samsung announces IMDB memory

Bentley-Reserve-SFSamsung, for the second year in a row, selected the Bentley Reserve (Old Mint) in San Francisco as the venue for announcing a series of products ranging from IoT Artik single mini board computing systems to support for massive In-Memory Database (IMDB) DIMMs with Near Data Processing (NDP) support.

The company covered 3D NAND-Flash or V-NAND as they like to call it which is marching along the road from MLC to TLC. Also appended in this section of the presentation was something that they’re calling Universal Flash Storage (UFS) directed toward supporting mobile applications.

What surprised several of the gathered analysts was the IMDB with NDP support – surprised from the point of view that this was something most had placed into the 2016 timeframe at the earliest. The fact that Samsung is supporting this segment upsets more than a few excel spreads. Forrester Research found that if SAP’s HANA IMDB appliance were to affect 2% of their market it would represent an equivalent 500 Million Smart Phone DRAM memories. This is the type of numbers that gains the undivided attention of a memory producer like Samsung.

One of the complaints currently in the Hadoop Massively Parallel Processor market (IMDB) is that it becomes bogged down with even a small number of users. The user performance penalty has stalled the market penetration growth to around 18% currently. What’s required is a near real time environment regardless of the number of users.

The reason for poor throughput is that multi-core CPUs experience data starvation in their attempt to service multiple users. Near-Data-Processing (NDP) solves this by allowing the search function to be executed in parallel and in memory. The entire system memory in effect becomes a massively parallel processor – this is the type of memory execution required for real time IMDB systems loaded with 64 Terabytes of DRAM. NDP is thought to be the missing link required for the Hadoop and the In-Memory Database market to gain traction and grow.

The NDP function is implemented in the form of a programmable FPGA at the bottom of stacked DRAM. Samsung did not go into details as to the DRAM type they intended to use in the stack though it could range from some of the advanced architectures like HMC and HBM though it’s most likely a modification of the currently ramping DDR4. The memory still functions in legacy mode allowing the new application base to be introduced concurrently with existing application software loads. Note also that the programmable function of the FPGA can be changed at will allowing for a wide range of software defined functionality.

Almost incidentally the company announced their High Bandwidth Memory market introduction. Now used by AMD, Nvidia and even Intel (by some sources) this is considered the On Processor I/O (OPIO) replacement to SGDDR5 – there will be no SGDDR6. Again, details were missing.

Techeye Take Away

There are a lot of details still not vetted in these announcements. It does place Samsung as being the first to announce their IMDB NDP entry. There is another major player preparing to announce and Samsung simply wanted to be first. Samsung promised a copy of the foil set tomorrow and we’ll follow up on sorting out the details as they become available.

The IMDB NDP technical discussion has been a hot topic but to this point has not entered the public arena – private discussions now at an end, the world et al will now weigh in on what’s good for the future and it is beginning to look good if you’re a memory producer.

I think the Kiehung crowd at Samsung has found a new calling – it is even better than April 1992 when Windows 3.1 was introduced and an entire PC market began an overnight memory upgrade cycle. They were all whistling Dinah Washington’s, “What a difference a day makes” – play it again Sam…,