R&D: Architecting Optically Controlled PCM
Presents design of unified network and main memory system called COSMOS that combines OPCM and silicon-photonic links to achieve high memory throughput. COSMOS is composed of hierarchical multi-banked OPCM array with novel read and write access protocols.This is a Press Release edited by StorageNewsletter.com on May 24, 2023 at 2:00 pm
ACM Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization has published an article written by Aditya Narayan, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA, Yvain Thonnart, Pascal Vivet, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CEA, List, France, Ayse Coskun, and Ajay Joshi, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA.
Abstract: “Phase Change Memory (PCM) is an attractive candidate for main memory, as it offers non-volatility and zero leakage power while providing higher cell densities, longer data retention time, and higher capacity scaling compared to DRAM. In PCM, data is stored in the crystalline or amorphous state of the phase change material. The typical electrically controlled PCM (EPCM), however, suffers from longer write latency and higher write energy compared to DRAM and limited multi-level cell (MLC) capacities. These challenges limit the performance of data-intensive applications running on computing systems with EPCMs.“
“Recently, researchers demonstrated optically controlled PCM (OPCM) cells with support for 5 bits/cell in contrast to 2bits/cell in EPCM. These OPCM cells can be accessed directly with optical signals that are multiplexed in high-bandwidth-density silicon-photonic links. The higher MLC capacity in OPCM and the direct cell access using optical signals enable an increased read/write throughput and lower energy per access than EPCM. However, due to the direct cell access using optical signals, OPCM systems cannot be designed using conventional memory architecture. We need a complete redesign of the memory architecture that is tailored to the properties of OPCM technology. This article presents the design of a unified network and main memory system called COSMOS that combines OPCM and silicon-photonic links to achieve high memory throughput. COSMOS is composed of a hierarchical multi-banked OPCM array with novel read and write access protocols. COSMOS uses an Electrical-Optical-Electrical (E-O-E) control unit to map standard DRAM read/write commands (sent in electrical domain) from the memory controller on to optical signals that access the OPCM cells. Our evaluation of a 2.5D-integrated system containing a processor and COSMOS demonstrates 2.14 × average speedup across graph and HPC workloads compared to an EPCM system. COSMOS consumes 3.8× lower read energy-per-bit and 5.97× lower write energy-per-bit compared to EPCM. COSMOS is the first non-volatile memory that provides comparable performance and energy consumption as DDR5 in addition to increased bit density, higher area efficiency, and improved scalability.“