Interleaving Rambus Memory Controller (ICS-FORTH)

A Memory Controller for Access Interleaving over a single Rambus

by Chara (Zacharenia) Xanthaki

Technical Report FORTH-ICS/TR-124
July 1994

Computer Architecture and VLSI Systems Division,
Institute of Computer Science (ICS), FORTH
Science and Technology Park of Crete, P.O.Box 1385, Heraklion, Crete, GR 711 10 Greece

Master of Science Thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Crete

ABSTRACT:

While the need for higher memory bandwidth is increasing, the traditional DRAM interface becomes more and more a bottleneck that keeps the bandwidth of DRAM chips at low levels. This fact forces the designers to use expensive techniques for organizing the memory system in order to meet the bandwidth requirements. The Rambus solution is based on a new DRAM architecture and a new DRAM interface that provides high bandwidth communication between the DRAM chips and the processing elements. The Rambus Channel uses a synchronous block oriented protocol. Each transcaction consists of 3 packets: request, acknowledge, and data. The bus runs at a 250 MHz clock, and achieves a peak data rate of 500 MBytes/s.

We have designed a memory controller for access interleaving over Rambus. Our controller maximizes the utilization of the bus, by interleaving the requests whenever it is possible. The scheduling algorithm used by our controller schedules a new request every 9 Rambus cycles (36 ns), which corresponds to a peak data throughput of 222 MBytes/s. Our controller handles individual word accessess, thus it could be used in a system that requires high data rates with increased bandwidth requirements, and accesses to non-sequential memory words, for example a supercomputer accessing non-cached vector elements with random stride. The chip was designed using the ES2 1.0 micron CMOS standard cell proccess and it was successfully simulated for speeds up to 18.8 MHz (53 ns).

KEYWORDS: memory controller, Rambus controller, RDRAM controller, synchronous DRAM, memory interleaving.

Note (Jan. 1999): Back in 1993, when this work was performed, the Rambus protocol was not designed for interleaving. Nowadays, the Rambus protocol II, runs at higher speed and provides for interleaved accesses in a natural way.

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