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AMD Data Storage Hardware

AMD Enters Desktop Memory Market 65

siliconbits writes "AMD has quietly released a new range of memory products and recycled the Radeon brand, which moves from graphics processing units to memory modules. According to the product page, AMD Radeon for systems are 'ideally' suited for the company's APU and CPU solutions and have been 'tested to the highest industry standards on AMD platforms.' Three different categories are currently on offer, roughly matching AMD's APU/CPU product categories; Entertainment, Ultra Pro and Enterprise. Oddly enough, the company is offering only 2GB modules with data rates at 1333.33MT/s and 1600MT/s, with 9-9-9 and 11-11-11 timings for the first two product ranges respectively."
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AMD Enters Desktop Memory Market

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  • Maybe they could take whatever they're smoking and sell that instead. I'd pay good money for it!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't AMD's single biggest weakness a lack of fabrication facilities? And they're introducing a line of memory modules for some heretofore-unseen vertical integration on the motherboard... Using the Radeon name. Poor ATI.

    • Speculation is that Radeon RAM is just rebranded.
    • by mgblst ( 80109 )

      No. Why make up shit? It is not Apple biggest weakness, or Nvidia, or Samsung, or anyone else. There are plenty of fabs going around to do this sort of work.

      However, AMD's biggest weakness may be morons who make shit up.

    • Why would that be their biggest weakness?
      They had manufacturing facilities, they spun them off into a different company and I'm sure they still have contracts in place to have first priority for their use.
      I find it hard to imagine whoever thought up splitting off GlobalFoundries from AMD did that on a whim and is now sitting in some office muttering "Oh shit, I accidentally the whole thing".

  • Integrated with the APU. That might be cool. Motherboards could be very, very tiny in the future.
    • Lovely stuff, usually called "cache" or "embedded DRAM". Low Latency. High Speed. Bowel-looseningly expensive in any significant quantity. Even money-no-object designs like Power7s have fairly puny amounts of the stuff.

      In some embedded applications(smartphones and friends, most notably) "Package on Package" designs with a RAM die packaged on top of the CPU are pretty popular; but that is largely about board space savings, the two dice aren't actually coupled much more closely(which allows them to be test
      • Cache almost always uses SRAM, which uses a whopping six transistors per bit instead of one (although it's MUCH faster, latency-wise). Thus you get much higher memory densities from DRAM, with the corresponding price advantage (which is further inflated by economies-of-scale, as DRAM is a much higher-volume product than SRAM). So that's not really what he's saying.

        It's still not really a good idea, though. RAM is generally one of the cheapest parts in a computer, and is often the only thing upgraded before

        • by amorsen ( 7485 )

          We are approaching the point where it does not make sense to upgrade RAM. Right now you often only get 256MB per memory chip, and it takes 4 chips to fill a typical bus (x16), so the minimum amount of memory you can sensibly install is 1GB. Obviously you can go with older 128MB or lower chips, but they are not much cheaper. Already you can do 512MB per chip, and with DDR4 we will likely hit 1GB per chip. We are not many chip generations away from being able to satisfy the needs of most users with a few sold

          • Except that most of the latency is inherent to DRAM - in the past decade, average latencies have dropped from 10-20ns to 6-7ns, while total bandwidth has skyrocketed from 1600 MB/s per channel to 10666MB/s per channel and capacities have surged from average systems having 128MB total to average systems reaching 2GB or 4GB.

            Basically, DRAM latency isn't a problem that can be fixed by moving it on-die. Nobody's found a solution yet, other than piling on more and more cache and hoping your branch predictor work

  • Three different categories are currently on offer, roughly matching AMD's APU/CPU product categories; Entertainment, Ultra Pro and Enterprise. Oddly enough, the company is offering only 2GB modules with data rates at 1333.33MT/s and 1600MT/s, with 9-9-9 and 11-11-11 timings for the first two product ranges respectively."

    The suggestion that 1600MHz is too slow for what AMD is calling "Ultra Pro" (they presumably mean gamers) is just not substantiated by the data []:

    We looked at different memory speeds for the LGA 1156-based Core i7-870 and chose to run DDR3-800, -1066, -1333, and -1600 at fast, as well as relaxed, timings. Although the differences were typically very small, there were a few applications that obviously benefited from faster memory. This wasn’t surprising, as we already did similar comparisons on most of the other popular platforms:

    In all cases, we’ve seen significant performance differences when looking at the synthetic or low-level benchmarks. Memory bandwidth does increase considerably if you speed up the memory transfer rate, and tightening timings also improves performance by cutting latencies. However, only a marginal fraction of these benefits actually arrive at the application level. Even going for the fastest memory available will give you a performance boost that is probably smaller than the effect a faster processor speed bin would deliver.

    • Uhh.... you're going to quote an Intel benchmark to invalidate AMD's claim? I understand where you're going. A 20% increase in clock speed is probably a negligible performance increase but with AMD's new core, who knows how it'll perform? Come back when you have a benchmark for AMD's new chip.
      • Memory is memory -- it doesn't have anything to do with the on-die memory controller. It's an application thing; most applications users use daily aren't doing constant memory pages, so tossing faster memory in is not going to do much.

        • Except that AMD's Fusion relies heavily on system memory since the on-die GPU doesn't have its own dedicated GDDR5 memory like traditional video cards provide. So although you're right that an increase in memory bandwidth for a traditional CPU doesn't do much, my point is that AMD's Fusion isn't a traditional CPU. You can't reference an Intel benchmark or even a non-APU AMD benchmark to compare.
          • If AMD is hoping to make a killing selling performance memory to "Ultra Pro" users, it's not going to do it by pairing it with Fusion. No performance user (gamers, CAD, etc) that is willing to shell out extra for AMD-branded memory is going to be using onboard graphics -- they would be using a discrete graphics card. In such cases, the relationship between main memory speed and onboard graphics is completely irrelevant. See this review [] breaking down Fusion's unsuitability for performance users:

            When it comes to the desktop space, Llano’s prospects are decidedly less impressive in light of the competition. These APUs make for an ideal solution to replace entry-level PCs with crappy integrated graphics. And, they certainly could introduce a lot of graphics muscle to a segment historically light in that regard. If Llano catches a foothold there, the APU could impact peoples’ expectation of what a PC can do. Developers might start targeting a higher lowest common denominator in their games, and that’d of course be great news for PC gaming.

            But once you reach outside of the budget basement and consider folks willing to use discrete graphics, the A-series’ utility is hamstrung. It’s easy to put an $80 Radeon HD 6670 in a cheap OEM box and walk away with something that easily trumps AMD’s product in both processing and graphics benchmarks.

            • I'm not going to disagree with you on that point. But again, my initial argument with you is that you are incorrectly citing an Intel based benchmark to invalidate AMD's claim that their processors will realize a significant performance gain from increased memory bandwidth.
  • So we can populate 4 slot motherboards to their full 32GB capacity and I'll buy 'em,.
    • Just note that SIMM and DIMM are two distinct form factors for memory. SIMM packaging having largely been abandoned post 1990.

      And they do make 8Gb and even 16Gb DIMMS:

      But you will likely find that many (if not most) motherboard chipsets do not support them. This is a chipset and bios coding issue more than anything else.
  • The margins on retail DRAM are really slim. Even in "performance" memory, where they charge more, there's still overhead in binning for the more aggressive timing numbers. Unless DRAM sticks were all you did, or your retail DRAM business was a front for a DRAM maker (as Crucial is for Micron), then I don't see how selling DRAM is going to add much to the bottom line of a large company like AMD. Are they going to charge more than Crucial does for the same stuff? Are they going to do something to make buy

    • Well, I'm guessing the final goal is not to sell RAM sticks separately but to integrate all the components they manufacture into one system-on-a-chip type thing as they're starting to do with CPU/GPU.

  • Ram has very slim profits, if they feel the need to enter that market, they must be really really desperate.
  • They are putting CPU, GPU, and Memory controller on the same die. Is it possible they can get a performance boost by changing something on the memory chip? Probably. Is it possible they could get a performance boost by changing the memory while still remaining compatible with regular RAM? In other words a special feature that only their APU knows how to use?
    • It's more possible that they can generate increased revenue by rebadging someone else's RAM with their well-known "RADEON" trade dress.