Second generation Z-RAM announced

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Santa Clara (CA) - Innovative Silicon, which made waves earlier this year by announcing a license agreement with AMD, today said that the second generation of its Z-RAM technology is available. The memory could be used as foundation for much denser L2 cache integrations in microprocessors.

Z-RAM, which stands for Zero Capacitor DRAM, has not been implemented in real-world products yet, but holds the promise to bring a solution to one of the major problems the microprocessor industry is facing today: Rapidly growing cache sizes increase the die-size of micro-processors. Already today, 4 MB L2 caches occupy more than half the space in a Core 2 Duo processor.

With the first generation of Z-RAM, Innovative Silicon said that its technology is able to reach five times the density of standard SRAMS, while decreasing power consumption and the number of soft errors. Z-RAM Gen2 continues to use Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) technology, but validated memories are now available in 90 nm structures (down from 130 nm) and test chips are being built in 65 nm and 45 nm, according to Innovative Silicon.

The company also said that Gen2 can store "significantly more charge in the memory bitcell," which ultimately leads to faster data read and write times, while reducing the power consumption of the device. According to Innovative Silicon, Z-RAM can be clocked at more than 1 GHz. The firm said that the memory can store about 5 Mb per mm2 at 65 nm and more than 10 Mb per mm2 at 45 nm - which, at least theoretically, would translate into L2 cache sizes of about 50 and 100 MB if applied to the die-sizes of today's microprocessors (about 150 mm2).

"Our Z-RAM Gen2 technology is a real breakthrough," stated Mark-Eric Jones, president and CEO of Innovative Silicon, in a statement. "We have seen no other technology that is remotely similar to it. Z-RAM was already the densest memory technology in the world, and with Z-RAM Gen2, it is now more than twice as fast and cuts memory read power by 75 percent and memory write power by a massive 90 percent."

Innovative Silicon said that AMD has licensed its Z-RAM Gen2 technology.