Putting processors on DIMMs. DPU's?

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Tagged: DRAM DIMM memory DDR4 HotChips

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    The Hot Chips conference has kicked off today and UPMEM, a memory company, has revealed patented DRAM modules know as PIM-DRAM (PIM-DIMMS sound better to me though) which have actual processing units on them that could save time, power, reduce CPU load and increase memory bandwidth. These processors are known as DPU’s or data processing units. The eventual goal is to produce 128Gb DRAM modules with 2048 DPU’s. This won’t replace your CPU anytime soon but could handle some of the more simpler computations that have to be done by the CPU. This coupled with memoisation perhaps, where if repeated expensive calculations are being done the results of these calculations are stored in cache and are called for if the same input is called for again, rather than having the CPU carry out the instruction again, costing energy and latency to send data to the CPU.

    The idea behind In-Memory Processing, or ‘Processing In-Memory’, is that a number of those simple integer or floating point operations should be done while the memory is still in DRAM – no need to cart it over to the CPU, do the operation, and then send it back. If the data can stay there and be updated, this saves time and power without affecting the result.

    The goal is to eventually produce 128 GB modules with 2048 DPUs in total. At an effective 1 GB/s bandwidth between a DPU and its 64 MB of memory, this would imply an effective 2 TB/s bandwidth between the DPUs and memory.

    UPMEM’s first product is slated to be an 8GB DDR4 2400 module with 128DPU’s for each 64MB of RAM space. However the operating wattage of these DIMM’s is looking to be on the high end of the number that DDR4 is rated for and currently there needs to be a minimum of one SDRAM module installed to be dedicated the the OS.

    On the side of cost, UPMEM hasn’t stated how much it plans to sell its technology for, but promise to be a marginal cost compared to alternative solutions. In one presentation, the company stated that their solution can replace a potential $40000 server with a $400 enhanced memory solution, noting that using PIM has knock-on effects for software licensing, datacenter space, and power consumption/efficiency.

    In-Memory Processing

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