Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Samsung Focuses on Energy at Memory Forum


October 2013 - This year Samsung’s Memory Solution Forum focused on the global issues of the enterprise and data center rather than the component features. This event, which was formally the CIO Forum, is in it third year, and is a mixed presentation and open discussion / Q&A event for technologist and executives to discuss, understand, and prepare for the shifts taking place on a global basis for data centers issues rather than be caught offguard by them.

The overriding themes this year have taken their turn in the top 10 issues before, but bubbled thier way to the top - energy for operation, open standards and the shift in content type. Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group lead the event as the master of ceremony for the distinguished lineup of speakers. The event featured presentations from Samsung’s Jim Elliott & Bob Brennan, Cisco’s Wim Elfrink and Ram Appalaraju, eBay’s Roark Hilomen, Turner Broadcast’s Robert Igarashi, Qualcomm’s Don Newell, Dell’s Robert Hormuth, Google’s Chris Elliott, Pure Storage’s Scott Dietzen, and Solid Fire’s David Wright.

As has been a tradition at these events, Samsung Semiconductor’s President and 28 year Samsung veteran Charlie Bae opened the event with short perspective on the directions in drivers in memory over his time at Samsung since he first started there on the 64K DRAM products through today’s commitment to new process technologies for both the DRAM fabrication and the progression in FLASH memory which now includes production 3D FLASH products.

The keynotes for this year’s event include a new perspective on the IT challenges from Former US Secretary of Energy & Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Steven Chu. The other keynote speaker was the well known Technology Evangelist and Author Guy Kawasaki who provided an overview of his new business book “Enchantment”.

The talk by Dr Chu set the framework for the event. It started with the standard Data Center & Enterprise stats of data Centers using 2-3% of the total electricity in the US and growing. His talk however presented a discussion that the issues has to be addressed holistically as the energy consumption is the gating item to growth NOT the underlying technology. The individual component replacement cycle mentality will not be able to abate this growth. Rather, a whole approach of lower energy CPUs, lower energy DRAM, lower energy storage, lower energy network switching and addressing this energy reduction and optimization in the software being run is required. The concept of lower energy is different from lower power. It is not just what was xWatts moves to yWatts. It is the understanding of what can be done with the xWatts. Based on the use model reviewing the tradeoffs - is it better to serve more people, do more computation with higher performance and density devices for the xWatts or serve the same community and tasks by reducing the power to yWatts. This means that software has to change to be more power aware and energy efficient as well as advancing hardware technology for increased bandwidth and performance.
Samsung’s Jim Elliott also presented the feature directions for their high level memory trends.. The focus was on the shift of the data center from supporting PC to supporting mobile devices and now towards the support of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT traffic will bring a new shift in data patterns being a small packet Machine to Machine (M2M) communication rather than the current 80% of traffic which is from mobile networks for social media and a 24 hr local use model. With the combined mobile and IoT use on top of the standard PC and business traffic, they are predicting 6.6ZB of data - a 3.7X data traffic increase by 2016. The keys for addressing this data traffic is being able to balance power, space, performance and budget (CAPEX and OPEX) for these data centers.

Samsung plans to address these with a short term direction of addressing the optimization plan of better virtualized servers. A key for this is moving the virtualized memory up to 128G per server to improve both performance and cost/power per user, on the new generation of CPUs. These 5th generation memories are DDR4 modules which have dropped the operating voltage from 1.35v to 1.2v with multi-bit error correction to insure proper operation. These devices are currently supporting a 2133Mbps data rate and are being scaled as the CPUs advance up to a 3200Mbps data rate. To support the DRAM in the system, Samsung is also shifting their enterprise SSD products. The new devices will be supporting PCIe direct interfaces with both PCIe Gen2 and Gen3. The goal is to reduce the power of translation through interfaces (CPU to PCIe to SATA) and create a direct connection. These new products connect directly to PCIe and are on the path to direct CPU interfaces in the future. This migration will both reduce power and increase performance & allow for higher capacity & virtualization for the “hot data” tier of storage.

The rest of the speakers focused on these same themes of energy for hardware and software as the driving factor in the enterprise.  The new direction area talks included presentations on new trend of using OpenStack for control and management in the data center  from eBay & SolidFire along with software  application market differences between transactional and long run & real time content delivery from Turner Broadcast.

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