When Samsung officially introduced one of the industry’s first Compute Express Link (CXL) memory expanders about a year ago, it largely positioned it as a concept-proof product aimed primarily at experimental machines that are not widespread. This week the company announcements its CXL Memory Expander 2.0, which carries 512GB of DDR5 SDRAM and can add up to 16TB of memory to the CPU.

Samsung’s Memory Expander 2.0 is based on the company’s own controller, which supports the CXL.mem protocol, as well as a PCIe 5.0 interface. In contrast, the company’s original Memory Expander was based on a programmable portal array controller (FPGA) and carried 128 GB of memory. Both memory expanders are available in EDSFF form factor (E3.S) and are designed for servers.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung’s Memory Expander 2.0 is aimed at next-generation servers that support the CXL.mem protocol, such as those based on AMD EPYC 7004-series ‘Genoa’ and Intel Xeon Scalable ‘Sapphire Rapids’ processors. As only select Intel customers currently have access to Sapphire Rapids processors, demand for Samsung’s Memory Expander 2.0 is unlikely to be significant. However, once Intel begins shipping its Sapphire Rapids processors in large volumes to AI, big data, and cloud applications, demand for CXL-enabled products should increase significantly.

In addition to Memory Expander 2.0, Samsung intends to unveil an updated version of its Scalable Memory Development Kit (SMDK), an open source software package that allows the CXL memory expander to run seamlessly in heterogeneous memory systems.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung plans to begin testing its Memory Expander 2.0 in the third quarter of 2022. Product sales are scheduled for a later date when machines based on Intel’s AMD Genoa and Intel’s Sapphire Rapids are available.

“CXL DRAM will become a critical turning point for future computing structures through significant improvements in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data services as we aggressively expand its use in next-generation memory architectures, including software-defined memory (SDM) ) “, Said Cheolmin. Park, vice president of Memory Global Sales and Marketing at Samsung Electronics and director of the CXL consortium. “Samsung will continue to collaborate across the industry to develop and standardize CXL memory solutions, while promoting an ever-growing ecosystem.”

Samsung has not yet revealed any details about the prices, but it is a sure bet that they will not be cheap. Standard DDR5 memory starts at over $ 200 for a 32GB DIMM, which would be equivalent to $ 3,200 for a 512GB. Given the additional hardware and special nature of Memory Expander 2.0, it will almost certainly cost more than that. How much remains to be seen.


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