VLP RDIMMs for virtualization on Blade Servers

Why Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM outperforms the competition

UPDATE: 07/06/2012 – VMware certifies Netlist as sole memory vendor

Netlist claims their 16GB VLP RDIMM has improved performance and reliability/robustness vs. the competitors’ products. And is also cheaper to make.

VMware has certified Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM memory modules for use with VMware products – it is the only VLP memory product certified by VMware.

Netlist docs suggest their VLP RDIMMs will be:

– higher reliability/robustness than the competition
.
– higher performance than the 2-rank VLP RDIMMs from competitors (!)
.
– cheaper to make

Performance, reliability/robustness and cost advantages

Netlist is touting their 16GB VLP RDIMM to be cheaper to produce and superior in terms of “improved reliability/robustness” compared to competitors’ products – which are based on 8Gbit DDP/QDP versions:

http://www.netlist.com/products/vlp/
Very Low Profile Memory for Blades and Space Constrained Applications

NEW – 16GB Planar-X VLP RDIMM Product Brief:

http://www.netlist.com/products/ppt/VLP-Planar-X.pdf
16GB 4Rx4 Planar-X VLP RDIMM
Very Low Profile, High Density, Low Voltage, Low Power Memory for Server Blades and Storage Systems

In addition they are saying their 4-rank memory has “improved performance” compared to the 2-rank memory from competitors.

http://www.netlist.com/products/vlp/briefs/16gb_vlp_for_hx5_brief_final.pdf
NEW – 16GB 4Rx4 Planar-X VLP RDIMM for IBM Blade Center HX5

Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM from IBM

The IBM memory list shows a 1333MHz 2-rank version of the 16GB VLP RDIMM that is priced the same as the Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM that is 4-rank.

The Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM (4-rank) is product number: 90Y3221 in the list below:

https://www-304.ibm.com/shop/americas/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/default/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=-840&storeId=1&langId=-1&dualCurrId=73&categoryId=4611686018425093824

46C0599 16GB (1x16GB, 2Rx4, 1.35V) PC3L-10600 CL9 ECC DDR3 1333MHz VLP RDIMM $459.00
.
90Y3157 New! 16GB (1x16GB, 2Rx4, 1.5V) PC3-12800 CL11 ECC DDR3 1600MHz VLP RDIMM $499.00
.
90Y3221 16GB (1x16GB, 4Rx4, 1.35V) PC3L-8500 CL7 ECC DDR3 1066MHz VLP RDIMM $459.00

Netlist COULD have sold a product based on a 4Gbit x 2 DDP memory package as well and get a 2-rank memory module – but they have chosen to use a 2Gbit x 2 DDP package (cheaper) to yield a 4-rank memory module.

Performance, reliability/robustness and price disadvantages with 8Gbit DDP/QDP

Netlist has said that their 16GB VLP RDIMMs (4-rank) are cheaper to produce than the competition.

This is because they are using 2Gbit x 2 DDP while the competitors require 8Gbit DDP/QDP to produce the same thing.

This is understandable.

However, Netlist also says that their product has “improved reliability/robustness” and “improved performance” compared to the 2-rank alternatives.

Now this is quite a statement. On the face of it, it seems difficult to understand Netlist’s and IBM’s confidence in a 4-rank product over the 2-rank versions.

Usually going from 2-rank to 4-rank tends to REDUCE performance (because the memory load increases with higher rank).

From earlier articles, 16GB RDIMM (2-rank) yield:

– 1066MHz at 1 DPC at 1.5V
– 800Hz at 1 DPC at 1.5V

Check out:

https://ddr3memory.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/infographic-memory-buying-guide-for-romley-2-socket-servers/
Infographic – memory buying guide for Romley 2-socket servers
June 29, 2012

https://ddr3memory.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/memory-buying-guide-including-1-35v-memory-for-romley/
Memory buying guide – including 1.35V memory for Romley
June 28, 2012

However these numbers are for 16GB RDIMM (2-rank) using 4Gbit monolithic memory packages.

What we are dealing with 16GB VLP RDIMM competitors are 8Gbit DDP/QDP – which are more complicated memory packages.

Netlist claims their product can do:

– 1333MHz at 1 DPC (probably not at 1.35V but 1.5V)

http://www.netlist.com/products/ppt/VLP-Planar-X.pdf
16GB 4Rx4 Planar-X VLP RDIMM
Very Low Profile, High Density, Low Voltage, Low Power Memory for Server Blades and Storage Systems

– 16GB Cost Effective 4Gb DDP (2x2Gb) implementation in a 4-Rank, 4 bit module solution
– Maximum Performance with 1DPC 1333MT/s memory bandwidth support
– Improved Reliability/Robustness compared to 8Gb QDP (4x2Gb) or 8Gb DDP (2x4Gb) solutions
– Low Power 1.35V operation with support for 1.5V

Netlist’s claims are corroborated by VMware’s endorsement – Netlist VLP RDIMMs are the only VLP memory endorsed by VMware.

UPDATE: 07/06/2012 – VMware certifies Netlist as sole memory vendor

VMware memory of choice for virtualization on blade servers

VMware certifies Netlist as the sole memory vendor for it’s products. The Netlist 16GB, 32GB HyperCloud (supplied by IBM/HP) and the Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM (supplied by IBM) are the only memory products certified for use with VMware:

https://ddr3memory.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/memory-for-vmware-virtualization-servers/
Memory for VMware virtualization servers
July 5, 2012

Netlist 2Gbit x 2 DDP vs. others’ 8Gbit DDP/QDP

VLP stands for very low profile memory and these modules have lower height than standard RDIMMs.

16GB VLP RDIMMs thus have lower real-estate available on the memory module compared to standard RDIMMs.

Using just a multi-die approach, such a 16GB VLP RDIMM would require:

– 16GB VLP RDIMM using 4Gbit x 2 DDP (8Gbit DDP) memory packages
.
– 16GB VLP RDIMM using 2Gbit x 4 QDP (8Gbit QDP) memory packages

Netlist can leverage both multi-die and multi-PCB (2 PCB Planar-X) techniques to create a 16GB VLP RDIMM – the 2 PCBs allow them to use a generation lower memory density.

– 16GB VLP RDIMM using 2Gbit x 2 DDP (4Gbit DDP) and Planar-X IP (2 PCB)

2Gbit x 2 DDP would be simpler and cheaper vs. the 8Gbit DDP and QDP packages:

– 2Gbit DRAM die is less expensive than 4Gbit DRAM die – not all DRAM makers have capability to produce 4Gbit DRAM die (Samsung does, many others don’t)
.
– a QDP package is more complex (thermal, connection issues) and expensive than a DDP memory package

For an explanation of multi-die and multi-PCB approaches to memory density, check out:

https://ddr3memory.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/ddp-vs-monolithic-memory-packages/
DDP vs. monolithic memory packages and their impact
June 25, 2012

https://ddr3memory.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/multi-die-vs-multi-pcb-to-increase-memory-density/
Multi-die vs. multi-PCB to increase memory density
July 1, 2012

One can see that for the 16GB VLP RDIMM, Netlist is leveraging BOTH the multi-die (2Gbit x 2 DDP) and the multi-PCB (2 PCB Planar-X IP) approach.

The competition is not using multi-PCB, so they have to double up on the multi-die – using denser, more complex and costlier memory packages.

Competitors are using 8Gbit DDP and 8Gbit QDP which are more complex and expensive memory packages to use than the simpler 2Gbit x 2 DDP memory package used by Netlist.

This approach allows Netlist to create a 16GB VLP RDIMM cheaper than the competition.

In addition, for the competitors, there may be additional issues with use of 8Gbit DDP/QDP (multi-die):

– the 8Gbit DDP memory package uses a 4Gbit DRAM die x 2 – the 4Gbit DRAM die is more expensive (not all DRAM makers have ability to make 4Gbit die – Samsung does) – there may also be performance issues with 4Gbit x 2 DDP – and may be related to the performance issues seen on the 32GB LRDIMMs and 32GB RDIMMs
.
– the 8Gbit QDP memory package uses a 2Gbit x 4 QDP – a QDP package has FOUR dies in one package and is thus more complex (thermal issues, asymmetrical line lengths) and expensive to make

Netlist the original inventor of the VLP format

Also to be noted is that Netlist was the original inventor of VLP and had shipped DDR1 versions of it to IBM for their blade servers (prior to their turnaround from consumer low margin memory to high margin IP-based products):

http://www.netlist.com/investors/investors.html
Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Conference Call
Tuesday, February 28 5:00pm ET
http://78449.choruscall.com/netlist/netlist120228.mp3

at the 19:25 minute mark ..

Finally, we have recently qualified our DDR3 Very Low Profile or VLP Planar-X RDIMM (i.e. using the Planar-X to use lower density DRAM packages to accomplish the same thing) for a major OEM’s blade server.

at the 19:35 minute mark ..

NLST was the original designer of the VLP and was the main supplier to IBM in their DDR1 blade servers.

The Planar-X technology will be able to provide a faster speed memory at the lowest cost as well as attain the highest VLP density in the industry.

Planar-X VLP is being evaluated by OEMs in other market segments, such as embedded computing and networking.

DDR3 VLP along with HyperCloud and NetVault (NVvault) for Romley is an integral part of our new product lineup for 2012.

We expect that these three product families will make up the bulk of our growth this year.

Here we have Netlist mentioning that they are training the IBM sales force on the cost benefit of their product:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/592411-netlist-s-ceo-discusses-q1-2012-results-earnings-call-transcript
Netlist’s CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript
May 15, 2012

Beyond HyperCloud, we’re also moving forward with the introduction of other new products, product lines that offer enormous growth potential. These include our next generation of vault products, NV3 and EV2, and our line of specialty memory subsystems including VLP RDIMMs and Planar-X RDIMMs.

16-gigabyte registered DIMMs which leverage our Planar-X technology are now available to ship with IBM’s top-selling server blades. During the last few weeks, we’ve been working closely with IBM to fill the supply pipeline and train the IBM sales force on the cost benefit of our product. We will follow this up with qualification of our high-performance 32-gigabyte VLP which we anticipate will begin testing during the second quarter.

Netlist docs suggest their VLP RDIMMs will be:

– higher reliability/robustness than the competition
.
– higher performance than the 2-rank VLP RDIMMs from competitors (!)
.
– cheaper to make

The way Netlist is describing their VLP RDIMM in conference calls, it will be the dominant VLP RDIMM on the IBM blade servers.

Since it will be deployed at 1 DPC, 2 DPC, it will sell into the mainstream IBM VLP market i.e. at all levels of memory loading.

Conclusion

Netlist is claiming that it’s 16GB VLP RDIMM has “improved reliability/robustness” and “improved performance” compared to the competition.

In addition it is cheaper to produce than the competition.

VMware has certified Netlist 16GB VLP RDIMM memory modules for use with VMware products – it is the only VLP memory product certified by VMware.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “VLP RDIMMs for virtualization on Blade Servers

  1. Pingback: Multi-die vs. multi-PCB to increase memory density | ddr3memory

  2. Pingback: Inphi to report July 25 | ddr3memory

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