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Micron’s LPCAMM2 Offering and the Path to Being First to Market with this New Industry Standard

Micron's LPCAMM2 Offering and the Path to Being First to Market with this New Industry Standard

On this episode of The Six Five – In the Booth, host Patrick Moorhead welcomes Praveen Vaidyanathan, VP and GM of the Compute Products Group at Micron Technology at CES 2024. They discuss Micron’s announcement of their LPCAMM2 memory offering and how it will change the PC ecosystem.

Their discussion covers:

  • The key trends in the PC ecosystem and how Micron’s memory offerings are changing the ecosystem
  • An overview of Micron’s new form factor memory offering, LPCAMM2 and the advantages it has over other memory solutions
  • The journey Micron took to bring this new form factor to the market
  • The benefits of Micron unveiling the new LPCAMM2 to the client PCs first and what is next beyond client PC adoption

Learn more about Micron’s new memory offering, LPCAMM2, on the company’s website.

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Transcript:

Patrick Moorhead: The Six Five is live at CES 2024 here in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s been an amazing show so far, and I think the headline is really about AI, whether it’s AI PCs, AI in cars, AI in gadgets, I mean, AI in pretty much everything. I have to tell you, I’ve never seen this much excitement around the PC market. It’s pretty incredible. I’ve been in and around the PC industry over 30 years, and it’s interesting to see the different inflections that go in here.

Some of the key technologies that get in there, the technologies that get probably the biggest highlight are things like the CPU and the GPU. But here’s the reality, and I’ve said this many times, you have to have the right memory and storage to make a more balanced system. Quite frankly, because of the tightly coupled nature now of CPU/GPU memory, you have to have a lot of integration, not only at the logical layer, but the physical layer too. It has to actually fit in the devices. One of the leaders that we’ve had on this show here is of course Micron. Micron is a leader in the next generation of PC memory form factors. Praveen, welcome to The Six Five.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Thank you, Pat. Thank you very much. I completely share the excitement that you are seeing in CES. We’ve all been coming here for several years.

Patrick Moorhead: I know.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: But this year, I have to admit, there’s excitement at the show floors. There’s excitement in conversations, even in the evenings. I feel like the art of the possible has been redefined this year through CES.

Patrick Moorhead: Totally. Well, totally, and it’s interesting, if you’ve been in the industry for a long time, which you and I both have, we see cycles kind of come and go. When I first got into the industry, the first PC browsers, multimedia with DOS were the thing.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: Then we saw a $7,000 PC. We saw Desktop to notebooks and then a lot thinner notebooks.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: But every step of the way, memory has had to transform itself. I got up on stage three days ago, at an Intel event actually, and I said, “We are going to see a super cycle in the back half of 2024, maybe first half of ’25, where we’re going to see a, I believe, and I’m basing my analyst firm reputation on this, a huge growth in these PCs. I’m super excited about this category.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. We’ve all watched the event that you conducted a few days back and it was fantastic. Nice to have industry leaders on stage talking about it. We always talk about what comes first, is it the application or the technology?

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: I think we are in an interesting spot, where the technology has progressed, the application is coming in.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: It’s a beautiful intersection that should deliver what we are all trying to do is improve experiences for us.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly. From your vantage point, what are you seeing as some of the key trends in the PC market today?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah, let me throw back maybe four years and start from there. I mean, the PC industry has been around for a long time. You’ve been a part of it. Four years is a very small time in the PC industry, but it feels like it’s been a very important four years from our perspective.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: We all hit 2019, we went into the pandemic, our lives changed. But also what happened is the PC, that was always a very essential part of how we live took on a new life.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: We were at home, whether you’re working from home, productivity became important. We were spending a lot of time with your family. People are playing games at home, multiple PCs experiences have changed. Even if you look at from content creation, massive amounts of content on social media being generated, that didn’t happen and all happening with the PC as one of the key edge devices. I think that was a really interesting inflection and that if I look a couple of years later, last year was the age of generative AI, but very much from a cloud and enterprise perspective.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: We’ve seen how that has changed all our lives and we see that now transitioning into more of the edge devices like phones and PCs. It’s amazing how as you’ve talked about in the forward to this discussion is how these applications are coming to the edge.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Given the essential nature of the PC already in our lives, AI on top of that just adds a new level of experience that’s just going to drive the paradigm on creativity, on productivity and how we all exist. I think that’s a trend over the last four years. I think it’s almost like 20 years of change compressed into four years.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. It was funny. I remember 15 years ago there were people saying that the PC was dead.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right, right.

Patrick Moorhead: But the reality is if you look over the span of 30, 40 years, technology is additive.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: We very rarely, I mean, mainframes have actually increased in MIPS every year for the past 40 years. Right?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: It’s not that we’re not doing cloud, it’s not that we’re not doing on-prem, not that we’re not doing smartphones tablets, and we’re doing it all. Right?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: It is exciting. The irony though, form factors of memory, the devices have changed certainly.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: But the form factors of how you get the memory there haven’t changed a lot. You are a big backer of a new standard that I’d love for you to, in layperson’s term, what is LPCAMM, LPCAMM2? Why does it matter and why is it relevant?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Okay. I think we talked about the evolution of the PC, all these use cases. In today’s modern world, there are typically two types of memory form factors that gets used. One as you take a memory and you just put it down on a motherboard.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Simple, it serves a very unique purpose that it allows you to build the thin and light notebooks, good battery life kind of solutions.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: The other solution is a little bit more modular, which is called a small outline DIMM.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: That’s been around for 25 years.

Patrick Moorhead: We talked about that in the green room. Even when I was in the PC industry that started.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: I was in my twenties by the way, so pretty scary.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. We won’t talk about age in this discussion, but also it’s evidence that it’s a very robust form factor. There’s been a lot of innovation. We’ve gone through multiple generations of DDR, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Now we are DDR five. Technology scales, technology scales, and we still build faster lower power products. It’s been a robust form factor.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: But it served its purpose. There are people who love their SODIMMS. There are use cases that love just soldered down, low power DRAM on a PC. What this new form factor does, which is an industry standard, which is called LPCAMM.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Stands for, it’s kind of a little bit of an alphabet soup, but it’s low power compression attached memory module.

Patrick Moorhead: There we go. Well, listen, JEDEC doesn’t get paid to come up with the best names, but the best technologies.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: That’s right, that’s right.

Patrick Moorhead: I think that works, right?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yes. It works. It works.

Patrick Moorhead: It does come off the tongue. LPCAMM.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right. There we go.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Say it a few times. LPCAMM is a new standard that basically takes the benefits of a small outline DIMM, along with the benefits of low power DRAM and puts it together into a new solution.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: A lot of innovation has gone around it, on working with standards bodies. The entire industry has to align on a new standard.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: That takes awhile.

Patrick Moorhead: By way, it’s all the other moving pieces, they’re all moving at the same time.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Correct.

Patrick Moorhead: All right, CPU architectures, GPU architecture, store.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: I mean, it’s all moving at the same time as you have to do this.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right, right. You are starting when you’re looking ahead, multiple years when it has to come to fruition.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: It’s pretty cool. The industry did come together and recognize the need for a solution like this, which resulted in the low power CAMM2 solution, which it’s again a lot about timing. I think it comes in at a time that it’s going to be very valuable for other application space that we are seeing, but it’s 25 years, right?

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: That it took us to go come up with this solution. But I think the timing is fantastic.

Patrick Moorhead: I think it’s important for the audience to understand what it takes to bring something like this to market.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: Sometimes you might think, “Well, if it’s been 25 years to people who did it the first time, they might be retired or something like…” What does it take to bring something like this to fruition across the industry?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. The first I think we talked about briefly, is there’s got to be alignment across all the industry players, all the memory suppliers, the PC makers.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right. Everybody’s got to align from a manufacturing perspective. Right?

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Also, everybody who builds these PCs is part of this conversation.

Patrick Moorhead: Competitors too.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Competitors too.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. Yeah. This is a perfect case of, “You’re doing the right thing for the industry.”

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: They have to come together, define the specs, define the standards, and align. That’s what kicks it off. But I also think a big part of it is from a Micron perspective, it’s about the engineering innovation that goes to go deliver something like this.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: It’s about, first of all, technology scaling. You want to make sure you’re on a leading edge technology that gives you the performance and the speed. Then it’s about design and architecture.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: How do you do that correctly? Then it’s about building the form factor. Anytime you have a new form factor, you have to reimagine testing. What is the test hardware required?

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: What is your throughput that’s going to be? You have to reimagine a lot of things, but the final, and I think the most important piece of bringing any new innovative memory solution to the market is use cases and customers.

Patrick Moorhead: I mean, always has to come down to that, otherwise it’s technology for technology’s sake.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Correct.

Patrick Moorhead: What are some of the black and white benefits between… I mean, getting people to do something new, right, there has to be some real big benefit out there. What are the benefits to customers?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. We think of it as four main benefits, and every time I talk about this, people, you usually look at me and go, “What took you so long?” Right?

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Because it just seems obvious that you would go do this, but it takes innovation, it takes… The timing has to be right. Technology has to progress. One of the biggest benefits that we see, and I’ll compare this to the two existing solutions, like single outline small outline modules and LP components that are on a board. Compared to a small light line modules, which basically uses DDR 5, this uses low power DRAM, which has about two to three higher speed grades than DDR 5.

Patrick Moorhead: Okay.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: You immediately get a bandwidth on it.

Patrick Moorhead: Performance boost.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Performance boost.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: In fact, the products that we are releasing today in a single PC, you’re going to get up to 120 gigabytes per second of bandwidth.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Imagine that in terms of what your applications need and when you run into memory bound applications, it’s the solution you need. But at the same time, what our customers, partners, and you and I as users, you don’t want to be running the fastest application and then go have to plug in your laptop every 20 minutes to make sure you can work.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: This actually consumes about more than 60% lower power than the small outline modules, because of the DDR 5 with the low power DRAM, right? Massive. As we talk about AI pc, if you’ve been walking around the floor.

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: People want performance, but everybody wants lower power. If you look at NPUs, one of the benefits is more efficient AI usage and lower power consumption, and that’s the same benefit that we get with this solution. The third is size. Right? You want to get performance, you want to get lower power, but you want to save your space. You want to save your space to maybe put bigger batteries.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes, yeah.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Just bring smaller laptops that you can carry around. This gives you the benefit. It’s about more than 60% smaller than an existing small outline solution out there. The final thing is that low power DRAM, when it’s soldered down your ultrabooks are thin and light, what they didn’t have was modularity. You could not buy a PC that has low power DRAM and then go out later and upgrade it. You had to get a new PC. Now, with the modular nature of this, you can add additional modules, you can upgrade the capacity, which we think is going to be one of the biggest reasons why this is going to scale up in the industry and in the PC ecosystem.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, the upgrade-ability part, it’s funny, super important, the people who do do it are typically content creators, gamers, the one doing the highest performance, or quite frankly, somebody who bought low, realized that they’re thrashing out to storage.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: But this whole bandwidth thing with the AI PC coming, I’m glad you brought it up because not enough people are talking about it. If I look at the increase in performance of A CPU and A GPU and then the bandwidth of memory, they’re not on the same slopes. Right?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: It sounds like this form factor is helping to narrow that gap and again, get everything aligned perfectly, right? CPU/GPU/NPU memory storage.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right. Today to address your bandwidth gap on how do you get compute and memory closer?

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Today when we release this product, as soon as it start getting plugged in, you’re going to see a 3x bump in bandwidth.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Now everybody’s got to go figure out how you’re going to use it, and I think the applications are there.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: It’s going to be a tremendous boost to close that gap and we’ll continue to drive that further up.

Patrick Moorhead: Off camera hidden, I think I see some gadgets here and I’m wondering if you might be able to flash one of those to the camera.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Absolutely. This is my party trick all through CES.

Patrick Moorhead: You normally put that in your coat pocket.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah, it’s in my hands, my palms. When I shake my hand, it usually just pops out out.

Patrick Moorhead: I love that.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: This is what we are talking about. It’s basically our low power CAMM solution. Actually, I should put it up next to what it is replacing.

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, my gosh. It’s incredible.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: This is today two single small outline DIMM modules, and this is what it’s replacing. It’s the same capacity. It is much higher bandwidth and lower power. I think that’s the innovation that this new form factor is bringing to the industry.

Patrick Moorhead: By the way, it says pretty much not everything, but one of the three attributes that you talked about. I mean, it’s evident and those SODIMM, look at.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right.

Patrick Moorhead: That are just very recognizable, very impressive.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Right. Yeah, I t’s fantastic. We are excited about it. We are excited for Micron. I think to the other statement we made, one of the things that being part of the industry leading in innovation and with partnership with our customers, the most exciting thing is being first to market with this.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: This is going to become ubiquitous. Everybody’s going to use this, but the proud moment is being the first ones to go deliver to the market and to go establish the baseline of user experience that this is going to create.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, hey, Micron’s been on a roll of being first to market with many things, so you’re setting this expectation for this, but I do have to ask, what is next for LPCAMM2 after PC adoption?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah.

Patrick Moorhead: I mean, is it different form factors, different markets, things like that? What are the other applicable ways?

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Yeah. In the near term, it’s going to be continuing to scale capacity and bandwidth. One of the nice things about low power DRAM is it’s very stackable. We can increase capacity in the same size very easily.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Bandwidth is going to scale year over year. But now that we have this modular form factor, now we are actually looking at any application that uses low power DRAM. Now, if you look at the data center that are use cases evolving, where low power DRAM is very useful. Again, from a power perspective.

Patrick Moorhead: Yes.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: That’s not enough power in the world to go power all these AI applications in a few years.

Patrick Moorhead: Exactly.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: On low power DRAM now is an interesting option, but when you build servers and hardware, you want to be able to service them. You want to be able to replace them.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Now this becomes an interesting option. We are going to explore some of that. If you look at networking, networking uses a lot of low power right now.

Patrick Moorhead: Right.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Is this an option for some of those applications? Then as I think about edge devices, the PC is one version. The phones continue to use mobile LP, but all IoT applications, right, as their demand for capacity grows, this is going to be a very interesting option for us to go explore, so that all your Edge I0T devices could have replaceable memory in there, rather than just soldered down memory. I think it’s going to, again, change the paradigm on how we engage. Right? We didn’t think it was possible, but now that it is, I think some of these applications are going to be focus areas for us to explore.

Patrick Moorhead: Right. No, this is great. Praveen, thank you so much for coming on The Six Five, here at CES. I really appreciate that.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Thank you, Pat. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, let’s make sure we get an update as we get further in.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Absolutely.

Patrick Moorhead: Sounds great.

Praveen Vaidyanathan: Great.

Patrick Moorhead: This is Pat Moorhead, signing off for The Six Five, here at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. You heard it hear, the future of PC memory form factors. It’s exciting and it does everything that the next generation you would want. It’s all about PPA and PPW, and that has always been a good combination to enable anything that’s next generation. Please check out all of the programming we did here at CES 2024. Make sure you check out the four hours of contiguous live coverage that we did as well. Hit that subscribe button. Take care.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.

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