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[Video] Samsung Taps into Unlimited Potential with CXL, A New Interface for Next-Generation AI Memory

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The world of artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a topic of the distant future – it’s already all around us. COVID-19 has sped up what was already a rapid digital transformation, and advances in AI technology have sped right along with it. Large scale adoption of AI is already taking place in key industries, from the automotive sector and finance, to healthcare and education, as seen through self-driving cars and chatbots. The range of uses and applications for AI is expanding fast, driving impressive advancements in areas like image processing, speech recognition, and natural language processing. 1. Next DRAM: A New Memory Solution for the AI Age The challenge has been that existing computing systems don’t offer memory capacities large enough to handle the sharp rise in data volumes. In fact, data needed for AI to function has been increasing tenfold every year1. Currently, a CPU can hold up to 16 DRAMs (8TB at the maximum) – a number far smaller than what’s needed to handle the massive stores of data used in AI and machine learning. The need for a memory platform that supports fast interfaces and easy scalability in preparation for the upcoming age of AI is becoming all the more clear. Recently, a new DRAM module based on compute express link (CXL) has emerged as a promising memory solution.

2. CXL: An Interface Pushing the Boundaries of Memory Capacity and Server Flexibility What makes CXL a next-generation memory platform and such a promising solution to current computing limitations? In short: scalability. CXL is a new interface designed to enhance the efficiency of a computing system’s memory, central processing unit (CPU), and graphic processing unit (GPU). In conventional platforms, devices like memory and storage have their own interfaces that link them to the CPU. But going through all these different interfaces to communicate with one another creates latency, slowing down operations. And with the massive growth in data being used for AI and machine learning, latency issues have only gotten worse. CXL is part of a next generation interface that will be applied to PCIe 5.0 By offering a single interface to directly connect devices and allow memory sharing, CXL addresses those limitations and creates new data pathways that are faster and more efficient. This next generation memory solution is the reason why CXL has been receiving so much attention. In line with this trend, Samsung Electronics released the CXL Memory Expander in May 2021, a first in the industry, sparking the introduction of CXL to a wider market.

■ Unrivalled Memory Expansion Similar to an external solid state drive (SSD), the CXL Memory Expander can fit into a DRAM socket to give DRAM capacities a significant boost. Its advanced interface enables developers to create a flexible memory arrangement that enhances the efficiency of DRAMs in IT systems, without having to modify the existing server structure or change it altogether. ■ Streamlined Data Handling A key benefit of the Memory Expander is its efficient data processing. By expanding higher bandwidth, it enables different devices to share memory and leverage their resources more effectively. They can then use the accelerator’s memory as if it were main memory by sharing common memory areas. Devices without their own internal memory can also take advantage of that main memory and use it as their own. ■ Accelerated Computing Speed Minimizing latency issues is one of the key functions of the CXL Memory Expander – a feature that will become more critical as the amount of data associated with AI and machine learning grows. The Memory Expander leverages both the accelerator and the CPU to improve system computing speeds, leading to far easier and more rapid data processing.

3. Expanding Memory, Expanding Possibilities However, the CXL interface is still new in the industry. First proposed by Intel in March 2019, this connectivity technology is in its early stages, but its potential to drive more efficient data processing is pushing it to be viewed as a driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With the age of AI evolving around us, Samsung Electronics has introduced not only CXL memory hardware, but also a software solution called the Scalable Memory Development Kit (SMDK) to help expand the CXL ecosystem. Samsung is poised to lead efforts to change how we process data by continuing to develop next-generation memory solutions – ones that can accommodate the fast-evolving landscape of data processing. As the message “Expanding Memory, Expanding Possibilities” in the video suggests, it will be interesting to see how the novel memory solution CXL opens up the boundless potential to connect future technologies with our day-to-day life.
1 Source: OpenAI (2019)