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Monday, February 25, 2008

MetaRAM Develops New Technology That Quadruples Memory Capacity

MetaRAM Develops New Technology That Quadruples Memory Capacity of Servers and Workstations; Reduces Price by Up to 90 Percent

MetaSDRAM(TM) for AMD and Intel(R)-Based Systems Now Available.
MetaRAM, a fabless semiconductor company focused on improving memory performance, today announced the launch of DDR2 MetaSDRAM™, a new memory technology that significantly increases server and workstation performance while dramatically decreasing the cost of high-performance systems. Using MetaRAM's DDR2 MetaSDRAM, a quarter-terabyte, four-processor server with 16 cores starts at under $50,000*, up to a 90 percent reduction in system cost** -- all without any system modifications. MetaSDRAM, designed for AMD Opteron™ and Intel® Xeon®-based systems, is currently available in R-DIMMs from Hynix Semiconductor, Inc. and SMART Modular Technologies. Servers and workstations from Appro, Colfax International, Rackable Systems and Verari Systems are expected in the first quarter of 2008.

"I've spent my career focused on building balanced computer systems and providing compatible and evolutionary innovations. With the emergence of multi-core and multi-threaded 64 bit CPUs, I realized that the memory system is once again the biggest bottleneck in systems and so set out to address this problem," said Fred Weber, CEO of MetaRAM. "MetaRAM's new MetaSDRAM does just that by bringing breakthrough main memory capacity to mainstream servers at unprecedented price points, without requiring any changes to existing CPUs, chipsets, motherboards, BIOS or software."

MetaSDRAM is a drop-in solution that closes the gap between processor computing power, which doubles every 18 months -- and DRAM capacity, which doubles only every 36 months. Until now, the industry addressed this gap by adding higher capacity, but not readily available, and exponentially more expensive DRAM to each dual in-line memory module (DIMM) on the motherboard.

The MetaSDRAM chipset, which sits between the memory controller and the DRAM, solves the memory capacity problem cost effectively by enabling up to four times more mainstream DRAMs to be integrated into existing DIMMs without the need for any hardware or software changes. The chipset makes multiple DRAMs look like a larger capacity DRAM to the memory controller. The result is "stealth" high-capacity memory that circumvents the normal limitations set by the memory controller. This new technology has accelerated memory technology development by 2-4 years.

MetaRAM Company Details

MetaRAM received its first round of funding in January 2006, demonstrated its first working samples in July 2007 and released its first chipset into production in November 2007. The company was co-founded by industry luminary and former AMD CTO Fred Weber and is funded by venture firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures, Storm Ventures and Intel Capital.

"Kleiner Perkins invested in MetaRAM because we believed in the founders and their technical vision. MetaRAM has assembled a first class team and executed flawlessly in bringing the DDR2 MetaSDRAM chipset to market in a short period of time. MetaRAM has the leadership, vision, and talent to challenge existing technological limitations and open new capabilities for computing," said Bill Joy, Partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and a member of MetaRAM's board of directors.

"The rapid adoption of Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® processors and platform virtualization, combined with the growth of data intensive applications, is driving demand for increased server memory capacity," said Bryan Wolf, managing director, Enterprise Platforms, Intel Capital. "MetaRAM's technology presented an opportunity for Intel to participate as both an investor and a strategic technology collaborator to deliver a compatible solution that enhances system performance."

MetaSDRAM Technical Details

MetaSDRAM, underpinned by more than 50 pending patents, solves the memory capacity problem affordably by enabling multiple mainstream DRAMs to look like a larger capacity DRAM to the CPU. The MetaSDRAM chipset combines four separate 1Gb DDR2 SDRAMs into a single virtual 4Gb DDR2 SDRAM which acts exactly as a monolithic 4Gb DDR2 MetaSDRAM would.

The DDR2 MetaSDRAM chipset is optimized for low power and high performance. MetaRAM's MetaSDRAM features include:

-- WakeOnUse™ power management which improves the power efficiency of the
DRAMs, thus enabling two to four times the memory to fit into a typical
system's power delivery and cooling capabilities.
-- Dynamic command scheduler that ensures that the MetaSDRAM is
compatible with the JEDEC DDR2 protocol.
-- Low latency circuit design and an innovative clocking scheme, which
allow the MetaSDRAM-based DIMMs to fit into existing memory controller
-- Unique split-bus stacked DRAM design that enables flexible access of
the multiple DRAMs in a stack.

MetaSDRAM Chipset Availability

-- MetaSDRAM MR08G2 chipset enables 2-rank 8GB DIMMs and is capable of
functioning at speeds up to 667MT/s. It consists of an AM150 Access Manager
and 5 FC540 Flow Controllers working as a group. The chipset is currently
in full production and is available at $200 each in 1,000 kit quantities.
-- MetaSDRAM MR16G2 chipset enables 2-rank 16GB DIMMs and is capable of
functioning at speeds up to 667MT/s. It consists of two AM160 Access
Managers and 9 FC540 Flow Controllers. The chipset is qualified for
production and is priced at $450 each in 1,000 kit quantities.

Compatible Platforms

-- AMD: Platforms based on Dual-Core and Quad-Core AMD Opteron™
-- Intel: Platforms based on Dual-Core and Quad-Core Intel® Xeon®
processors with the 5100 MCH

Module Availability

Modules are currently available from:

-- Engineering samples are currently available from Hynix Semiconductor:
8GB PC2-4200 R-DIMM Module (HYMP31GP72CUP4-C6). For more information,
please visit
-- Qualification samples are currently available from SMART Modular
Technologies (NASDAQ: SMOD): 8GB PC2-4200 R-DIMM Module (SG5721G4MG8C66HM),
$1500 budgetary pricing. For more information, please visit

Server and Workstation Availability

Servers and workstations are expected in Q1 from:

-- Appro: Appro XtremeServers and XtremeWorkstations. For more
information please visit
-- Colfax International: Colfax CX1254-N2 and CX1460-N2 1U Rackmount
Servers and Colfax High-End Workstation CX980. To configure and purchase
please visit
-- Rackable Systems
-- Verari Systems: Newly introduced BladeRack® 2 X-Series blade-based
storage and server solutions, and Verari's high-end visualization
workstations. For more information please visit

Target Markets

MetaRAM products are designed for high performance rack-mount servers and workstations that run compute-intensive applications such as CAD/EDA simulations, database transaction processing (OLTP), business intelligence, digital content creation, and virtualization. These and other heavy workload applications are the backbone of industries like aerospace, automotive, financial services, animation, oil and gas exploration, and semiconductor design and simulation.

MetaRAM is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. and employs 35 people. More information on MetaRAM and its breakthrough product can be found on its web site at

About MetaRAM

MetaRAM is a fabless semiconductor company focused on improving memory performance. The company's first product -- MetaSDRAM™ -- enables four times the amount of standard memory to be placed into existing systems without any modifications. The company is privately held, and venture funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Khosla Ventures, Storm Ventures, and Intel Capital and is headquartered in San Jose, California. For more information, please go to

MetaSDRAM and WakeOnUse are Trademarks of MetaRAM

All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners

*The Colfax CX1460-N2 is a 1U rackmount server with 256GB of DDR2 memory and four AMD Opteron 8000 series processors. Starting under $50,000.

New Server Chips Quadruple Memory Capacity
Startup Metaram has developed a technique to pack more RAM onto a memory module.
Startup company Metaram on Monday is expected to announce technology that overcomes traditional server memory limitations and allows users to quadruple memory without adding new hardware.

Targeted at servers, the MetaSDRAM chipset sits between the DRAM module and a memory controller, processing commands and manipulating the controller to allow the system to have up to four times more memory.

The capability of Metaram's chipset to read the additional memory means memory makers can pack more RAM on a memory module, overcoming limitations that typically throttle the amount of memory that can fit in servers.

For example, an 8-socket x86 server is limited to 256G bits of RAM, but MetaSDRAM chipsets quadruple that to 1T byte of RAM.

"That allows the system to overcome traditional limitations to read the additional RAM on a [memory module]," said Jeremy Werner, senior manager of marketing at Metaram.

The ability to plug four times the memory into a slot on a motherboard is very attractive and allows servers to perform better, said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64. "If you can put a terabyte of memory in a system, your entire Oracle database can sit in the memory. That's a rocket booster," Brookwood said.

It also results in cost savings, Brookwood said. Users can add four times the memory capacity without adding CPUs, he said.

Memory manufacturers can plug the chipset on existing memory modules, according to the company. Hynix and Smart Modular Technologies are supplying the technologies in the memory modules, according to Metaram.

Metaram is shipping separate chips that can help double and quadruple the DRAM capacity of memory modules. The MetaSDRAM MR08G2 chip, which helps double the capacity of memory modules, is available to memory makers for US$200 in quantities of 1,000. Metaram did not share pricing information on the chipsets that quadruple memory. The chips are compatible with Advanced Micro Devices- and Intel-based x86 systems, Metaram said.

With the MetaSDRAM chips, Metaram has found a way for users to fit memory modules into existing infrastructure that users can adopt quickly, Brookwood said. This follows the rationale of Fred Weber, one of the founders of Metaram and former chief technology officer for Advanced Micro Devices.

"It reflects the same design philosophy when AMD came up with their Opteron boxes," Brookwood said. "Intel said x86 couldn't do 64-bits, but Weber said that the problem with Itanium is it doesn't fit into existing infrastructure," Brookwood said. Weber and AMD figured out how to fit the 64-bit architecture into chips that could be implemented into existing infrastructure, Brookwood said.

While Metaram's technology overcomes bottlenecks facing traditional system architecture, it could have its limits, analysts said.

"It is not a revolutionary product, but it is a novel way to handle additional memory," said Will Strauss, principal analyst at Forward Concepts. PCs and servers support only limited memory today, and this product will be effective until new PC designs are introduced in the future, he said.

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