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[CES 2023 Innovation Award] Pushing the Boundaries of Memory: Samsung Goes Beyond Hardware to Become ‘Total Solution Provider’ with Memory Expander

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Samsung memory expander 2.0
Samsung memory expander 2.0
“A game changer for the memory industry.” – Samsung Electronics’ next-generation 512GB Memory Expander took home the Innovation Award at CES 2023 for its potential to overcome the limitations of today’s memory hardware. Samsung is billing the Expander as a key technology to lead the era of data explosion and a cornerstone for its vision to become a total solution provider that encompasses both hardware and software. Overcoming Capacity and Speed Limitations with Next-generation Memory We live in the era of big data. And with cloud solutions, machine learning and AI quickening the digital transformation, data has permeated our lives like air filling the empty spaces of a room. Together they promise to create a smoother digital lifestyle. But supporting that vision for the future will require memory solutions that perform at all new levels. According to Statista, a global market research institute, the amount of data generated worldwide reached 33 zettabytes1 in 2018. Starting in 2018, the amount of data generated by machines overtook that of humans, and that number has risen even more dramatically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when work from home, remote education and OTT2 went from fringe ideas to the norm for much of the world. Along with a dramatic rise in the usage and intelligence of home entertainment, it’s predicted that annual data generation will explode to 181 zettabytes in the next 7 years – an increase of more than 448%.3
Trends in data generation in zettabytes
Trends in data generation in zettabytes
Samsung Electronics created the CXL (Compute Express Link™) Memory Expander – a next-generation interface designed to overcome limitations in expanding memory capacity – to ensure that tomorrow’s data-based technologies have the memory capacity and speed to operate to meet the rising demand for data. Expanding the Future on a Terabyte-Scale The Memory Expander embodies Samsung Electronics' commitment to disruptive innovation. It also represents a massive stride in establishing Samsung Electronics’ technological leadership in the CXL field. One noteworthy feature of CXL memory is its scalability. Often used in PCIe 5.0, CLX helps to ensure more efficient usage for central processing units (CPU), memory, graphic processing units (GPU) and storage devices, leading to lower power drainage and faster performance. In the past, the need to pass through multiple interfaces when communicating among devices centered on the CPU led to minor delays that, when added up over time, equate to major performance losses. This problem became even more intense as large swaths of data from AI and machine learning platforms crowded servers and bogged down data processing. But with CXL, those previously separated interfaces are integrated into one, creating a direct connection between each device that allows for more immediate memory sharing. In other words, it drastically cuts down on delays by shortening and expanding the pathways for data processing. Samsung Electronics' latest Memory Expander provides up to 512GB of DDR5 DRAM memory, expanding server memory capacity to a terabyte scale, while taking bandwidth speed to the realm of terabytes per second. In addition, by using an 8-channel PCIe 5.0 interface, it opens the door to CPU processing speeds of up to 32 GT/s per lane, relaxing memory bottlenecks caused by the inherent limitations of existing DDR interfaces. Samsung Electronics aims to commercialize the Memory Expander in the fourth quarter of 2023. At the same time, it plans to increase accessibility to development for clients and partners through SMRC4, Samsung Electronics' next-generation infrastructure for collaborating with customers. The Story Behind CXL based Memory Expander and Efforts to Expand the Memory Ecosystem A potential game changer for the memory industry, the development of the Memory Expander did not happen overnight. Like most great advancements, it was the result of a gradual process of challenge, execution and collaboration with industry partners. Samsung Electronics explored new types of working methods including forum activities among internal diverse research organizations and collaboration with its network of partners. Those partners included major global dater centers and server and chipset companies, who worked closely with Samsung throughout the whole process – starting when Samsung developed the CXL-based DRAM for the first time in 2021, and until the development of the high-capacity 512GB Memory Expander this year. From start to finish, the process was a story of countless trials and difficulties. Everything from system set-up to work process needed to be newly implemented in the face of multiple, ongoing challenges. But with the inevitable rise of the big data era calling for new solutions, Samsung Electronics’ determination to create this solution overcame those roadblocks. A large team of intuitive and highly skilled individuals demonstrated their spirit in the face of adversity, ultimately resulting in the birth of the Memory Expander and, as Samsung Electronics is proud to announce now, the CES Innovation Award. From day one, openness and innovation were always the final goal for this product. Indeed, this team hoped from the initial stages of product development that the Memory Expander would support optimal software and hardware at the same time. Its creators ensured accessibility to the technology, making it possible for various engineers in the industry who use the CXL interface to develop related technologies quickly and easily. In October 2021, Samsung Electronics released SMDK (Scalable Memory Development Kit)5, a software development tool, as an open source to expand the CXL memory ecosystem. That decision has served as a catalyst for accelerating next-generation memory technologies, bringing increased attention to the technology not only from within the industry but also from non-profit organizations such as universities and research institutes. The explosion of data and the tools that use it are driving all new demands. As they do, it will be not only innovation, but collaboration and openness that unlock new levels of performance across industries. Samsung will stay committed to both as it opens doors to newer, better solutions.
1 Zettabyte (ZB): 1 ZB equals 1.1 trillion GB 2 OTT (Over The Top): An online video service (streaming, etc.) that provides media content such as movies and TV series via the Internet. 3 Statista, Amount of data created, consumed, and stored 2010-2020, with forecasts to 2025, September 2022 4 SMRC (Samsung Memory Research Center): A new infrastructure for collaboration that can test and verify Samsung's new memory solutions including various elements for system construction such as OS, virtualization and applications. 5 SMDK: a software development tool that helps the main memory previously equipped and CXL memory to operate optimally in the next-generation heterogeneous memory system environment. SMDK consists of APIs and libraries: Learn more↗

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