Thanks to the explosion of data center and datacenter demand for memory chips, memory manufacturers have a massive opportunity to expand into new markets by supplying 16Gb, 16GB, and now 20Gb single-chip memory modules. Today’s news about new SDRAM modules, featuring Toshiba’s newest 8Gb transistors, is really exciting. Single-chip, high-speed DIMMs are becoming more common in data centers. And of course a lot of mobile devices, such as smartphones, are also requiring higher memory densities. Currently, the most widely used DDR4 memory chips are made by Samsung, Hynix, and Micron. But the market is currently split between two competitors: Alliance Memory (which produces two joint ventures with Toshiba) and UMC/Hynix.
Alliance Memory’s announcement shows that it’s now substantially larger than UMC/Hynix. If that’s true, and Alliance Memory, which is owned by Toshiba, can reach these kinds of numbers with its existing 20Gb transistors, it’s also a clear sign that Toshiba believes its own technology can beat the other two suppliers’. This game is also a big opportunity for venture capital in Silicon Valley, where companies like Borqs and Polar come from. Well, mostly Silicon Valley, as more sophisticated memory processor designers are also creating designs that will make Alliance’s products more attractive. In the past, memory makers were ambivalent about memory as a back-end processing chip, because you could buy cheap DRAM and use it as one part of a kind of computer system — maybe as an embedded system in your car, perhaps as part of your Blu-ray player.
But now they realize that going back to the past means suddenly having the wrong kinds of integrated circuits because your computer systems’ chips are working on DRAM. Instead, they have to be doing something altogether different. To keep up with demand, Alliance Memory is expanding its line-up of high-speed, low-power DDR4 SDRAMs, with its 16Gb devices now available. Its latest 20Gb devices will roll out sometime next year.
In a statement announcing the expansion, Alliance Memory’s president and CEO, Donna Wilhelm, emphasized that the new, high-density chips “deliver a significant performance increase over earlier generations, and offer profound power savings” thanks to high-performance switching and the ability to roll memories around very quickly.