A new project, partially funded by the European Commission under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-ICT-2009-C), will seek to develop a silcon-based optical random access memory (RAM) device capable of operating at 100 Gbps. The effort, called RAMPLAS, will seek to improve upon the access speeds now supported by Static RAM and DDR3 DRAM devices in a way that can keep pace with advances in processor speeds.
The three-year effort will combine the expertise of six participants:
- The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH; Greece), which will lead the consortium
- The Technical University of Berlin (Germany),
- VTT Technical Research Centre (Finland)
- PhoeniX Software (the Netherlands)
- The Institute of Communication and Computer Science (ICCS; Greece)
- The Tampere University of Technology (Finland).
The consortium says it will rely on advances in silicon-on-insulator (SOI) fabrication technology to develop silicon-based optical RAM chips. Specifically, the RAMPLAS group hopes to combine 1.55-µm Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) gain chips with nanometer-scale SOI waveguide platforms. The participants also hope to develop uncooled InGaAsNSb (dilute nitride-antimonide) SOAs as active elements.
If successful, the optical RAMs will provide several benefits, RAMPLAS participants believe:
- memory access times 30X less than state-of-the-art SRAM cache and three orders of magnitude lower than DRAM modules
- reduction of energy consumption to levels around 15 mW/Gbps
- confirm the viability of wavelengths as a means to interconnect cache units and different memory hierarchical layers.
The group hopes to enable fabrication of a 64-bit optical RAM bank as well as demonstrate optical RAM for content addressable memory (CAM), all-optical 4x4 routing, and 27-1 optical Pseudo-Random Bit Sequence (PRBS) generation, all at 100 Gbps.
Further information on the project can be found at www.ict-ramplas.eu.