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Samsung and Micron form HMC Consortium to develop better, faster memory

HMC Cube
HMC Cube

Multi-core processors have brought huge speed and performance improvements to computers, but computer memory is holding them back — it can't send instructions to the processor fast enough anymore. DDR3, the current memory standard, isn't improving its performance or efficiency fast enough to keep up, and the term "memory wall" has been coined to describe the problem. Samsung and Micron Technology have teamed up to try and tear down that wall — they've formed the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium, a group of companies that are dedicated to creating and adopting a new memory standard, called Hybrid Memory Cube. HMC, the companies say, provides 15 times the performance of DDR3 memory modules, while using 70 percent less energy and taking up 90 percent less space.

HMC is also more primed for advancement than DDR3 or its replacement, DDR4, which Samsung is also spearheading; it will be able to keep up with computer processors and Moore's Law. HMC isn't the only nascent technology aiming to improve memory systems — FeTRAM has similar goals, for instance — but HMC is further along, and has the sizable advantage of Samsung's backing. The consortium expects to have an industry-adoptable specification ready in 2012, but mass production is further off. The cubes will initially go into servers and high-end networking computers, which need as much power and efficiency as they can get, and can pay for it; eventually the technology could be everywhere, but given how expensive HMC memory is likely to be in the beginning, it won't be seen in your computer or tablet any time soon.