Secret Specs, LPDDR5, and Interposers – #26

Keeping specs secret is just part of the job. Getting a usable, working spec is another. Learn why JEDEC guards a spec, the basic DDR architecture, and geek out with us about the challenges of probing DDR.

Hosted by Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman, EEs Talk Tech is a twice-monthly engineering podcast discussing tech trends and industry news from an electrical engineer’s perspective.

Keeping specs secret is just part of the job. Getting a usable, working spec is another. We sat down with Jennie Grosslight to learn why JEDEC guards a spec, the basic DDR architecture, and geek out  about the challenges of probing DDR.

Hosted by Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman, EEs Talk Tech is a twice-monthly engineering podcast discussing tech trends and industry news from an electrical engineer’s perspective.

 

 

Agenda:

1:00
How are electrical engineering and protocol specifications defined?

2:00
Bigger companies tend to drive specifications because they can afford to put money into new products

Sometimes small or midsize companies with an idea can make something new happen, but they have to push it

2:50
Most memory technologies have a couple players:
1. The chipset and the memory controller industry
2. The actual devices that store data (DRAM)

3:30
There’s a tremendous amount of work between all the players to make all the parts work together.

5:00
Why JEDEC keeps information about new products private as they’re being developed:
If you spread your information too wide then you can get a lot of misinformation. Fake news!
Early discussions also might not resemble the end product

6:20
DDR5, LPDDR, and 3D silicon die stacking are new and exciting in memory

7:00
We keep pushing physics to new edges

7:20
Heat management in 3D silicon is a big challenge

8:20
LPDDR5 is the new low power memory for devices like cell phones and embedded devices

9:10
5G devices will likely depend on low power memory

10:20
Once the RF challenges of 5G are figured out there will be even more challenges on the digital side. Systems have to deal with large bandwidths and low latencies

11:10
Higher performance and lower power is driving development of LPDDR5

It will be interesting to see if improvements are made in jumps or very slowly

12:00
Dropping voltage swing and increasing speed both make the eye smaller
Making the eye smaller makes you more vulnerable to crosstalk

12:20 – Completely closed eyes for DDR5

13:00
How to probe DDR?
We use a lot of simulation because the circuits are so sensitive

14:20
Crosstalk is often a problem when making DDR and LPDDR measurements

14:50
Economics drives everything so new technology is often based on existing systems

15:40
What comes next is up to who comes up with the best idea

16:40
What will drive change is when the existing materials can no longer meet performance

17:50
Power is important for big data farms as well as cell phones

19:50
GDDR and DDR

21:00
Chipset rank on a DIMM

The pieces share a common data bus so you need to know the order to properly test

24:20
DIMM interposer used for logic measurements for servers

25:50
With a scope a ball grid array is used under a device or the pins are probed

Oscilloscope interposers are available that work similarly to the logic analyzer interposers

The logic analyzer looks at all the signals at once, typically the oscilloscope only looks at a few

28:10
When testing you want to validate that the device followed the protocal in the right sequence

29:10
Data rates of DDR

DDR5 is supposed to get to 6400 MT/s

 

DDR5 and 3D Silicon – #25

DDR5 marks a huge shift in thinking for traditional high-tech memory and IO engineering teams. The implications of this are just now being digested by the industry, and opening up doors for new technologies. In today’s electrical engineering podcast, Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman sit down with Perry Keller to discuss how engineers should “get their game on” for DDR5.

“You reach critical certain thresholds that are driven by the laws of physics and material science” – Perry Keller

DDR5 marks a huge shift in thinking for traditional high-tech memory and IO engineering teams. The implications of this are just now being digested by the industry, and opening up doors for new technologies. In today’s electrical engineering podcast, Daniel Bogdanoff and Mike Hoffman sit down with Perry Keller to discuss how engineers should “get their game on” for DDR5.

 

Audio:

Sign up for the DDR5 Webcast with Perry on April 24, 2018!

Agenda:

00:20 Getting your game on with DDR5

LPDDR5 6.4 gigatransfers per second (GT/s)

“You reach critical certain thresholds that are driven by the laws of physics and material science” – Perry Keller

1:00 We’re running into the limits of what physics allows

2:00 DDR3 at 1600 – the timing budget was starting to close.

2:30  With DDR5, a whole new set of concepts need to be embraced.

3:00 DesignCon is the trade show – Mike is famous for his picture with ChipHead

4:00 Rick Eads talked about DesignCon in the PCIe electrical engineering podcast

4:40 The DDR5 paradigm shift is being slowly digested

4:50 DDR (double data rate) introduced source synchronous clocking

All the previous memories had a system clock that governed when data was transferred.

Source synchronous clocking is when the system controlling the data also controls the clock. Source synchronous clocking is also known as forward clocking.

This was the start of high speed digital design.

At 1600 Megatransfers per second (MT/s), this all started falling apart.

For DDR5, you have to go from high speed digital design concepts to concepts in high speed serial systems, like USB.

The reason is that you cant control the timing as tightly. So, you have to count on where the data eye is.

As long as the receiver can follow where that data eye is, you can capture the information reliably.

DRAM doesn’t use an embedded clock due to latency. There’s a lot of overhead, which reduces channel efficiency

9:00
DDR is single ended for data, but over time more signals become differential.

You can’t just drop High Speed Serial techniques into DDR and have it work.

The problem is, the eye is closed. The old techniques won’t work anymore.

10:45
DDR is the last remaining wide parallel communication system.

There’s a controller on one end, which is the CPU. The other end is a memory device.

11:15
With DDR5, the eye is closed. So, the receiver will play a bigger part. It’s important to understand the concepts of equalizing receivers.

You have to think about how the controller and the receiver work together.

12:20
Historically, the memory folks and IO folks have been different teams. The concepts were different. Now, those teams are merging

13:00
DDR5 is one of the last steps before people have to start grappling with communication theory. Modulation, etc.

14:10
Most PCs now will have two channels of communication that’s dozens or hundreds of bits wide.

14:45
What is 3D silicon?

If 3D silicon doesn’t come through, we’ll have to push more bits through copper.

3D silicon is nice because you can pack more into a smaller space.

3D silicon is multiple chips bonded together. Vias connect through the chips instead of traces.

The biggest delay for 3D silicon is that it turns on its head the entire value delivery system.

7 years ago, JEDEC started working on wide IO

17:15
What’s the difference between 3D silicon and having it all built right into the processor?

It’s the difference between working in two dimensions and three dimensions. If you go 3D, you can minimize footprint and connections

18:45
Flash memory, the big deal has been building multiple active layers.

19:45
The ability to stack would be useful for mobile.

21:45
Where is technology today with DDR?

DDR4 is now mainstream, and JEDEC started on DDR5 a year ago (2017)