PDL Abstract

Main Memory Scaling: Challenges and Solution Directions

Invited Book Chapter in More than Moore Technologies for Next Generation Computer Design, pp. 127-153, Springer, 2015.

Onur Mutlu

Carnegie Mellon University


The memory system is a fundamental performance and energy bottleneck in almost all computing systems. Recent system design, application, and technology trends that require more capacity, bandwidth, efficiency, and predictability out of the memory system make it an even more important system bottleneck. At the same time, DRAM technology is experiencing difficult technology scaling challenges that make the maintenance and enhancement of its capacity, energy-efficiency, and reliability significantly more costly with conventional techniques.

In this chapter, after describing the demands and challenges faced by the memory system, we examine some promising research and design directions to overcome challenges posed by memory scaling. Specifically, we describe three major solution directions: 1) enabling new DRAM architectures, functions, interfaces, and better integration of the DRAM and the rest of the system (an approach we call system-DRAM co-design), 2) designing a memory system that employs emerging non-volatile memory technologies and takes advantage of multiple different technologies (i.e., hybrid memory systems), 3) providing predictable performance and QoS to applications sharing the memory system (i.e., QoS-aware memory systems). We also briefly describe our ongoing related work in combating scaling challenges of NAND flash memory.