Unlocking LPCAMM2 Potential: An In-Depth Look
The laptops are taking over. This year, global sales are expected to reach 171 million, while desktop sales will drop to 79 million. Due to their improved performance, portability, and display, more people use laptops as their main computer. But reliance brings expectations.
Looking for the perfect laptop
Laptops have evolved from low-mid performance systems for portability at the expense of performance to desktop replacements for more than internet browsing. Content creation and new trends like laptop AI demand increased memory bandwidth, and customers won’t sacrifice performance for portability or sleek, thin form factors. Performance matters.
Of course, battery life matters too. Working, learning, and playing from anywhere requires good battery life. Workloads change, so laptop battery life optimization must include real-world use cases.
Finally, this work/educate/play-from-anywhere trend requires thin, light systems without sacrificing battery life or performance. These requirements force every laptop component to find new ways to save space or power without sacrificing performance.
In addition to these requirements, the PC industry has long relied on system upgrades. Innovation is welcome here, but innovation that sacrifices upgradeability limits market adoption. This upgrade ability is crucial today due to sustainability concerns. Laptops with solder-down memory to make them thinner were popular, but customers were disappointed to learn that memory upgrades were not possible.
Perfect memory for next-gen laptops
New laptops that can handle today’s workloads and prepare for tomorrow’s AI PC demands need a lower-power, smaller, and upgradeable memory solution that doesn’t affect performance or form factor.
Low-power DDR (LPDDR) with LPCAMM2, Micron’s new memory type, uses the latest LPDDR5X mobile memory in a new module form factor to reduce power and footprint while increasing performance, repairability, and upgradability.
LPDDR outperforms DDR in every power usage test. LPDDR is designed to save power, not just when idle. Phones and tablets are expected to be ready instantly, perform at their best, and then sleep with little power. Of course, the battery should last all day. Historically, laptops have struggled with low-power DDR memory. As laptops become more integrated into our lives, we expect them to act like phones and tablets. Only LPDDR mobile memory can do this on the memory subsystem.
Once a laptop designer chooses LPDDR, the downside is that it is not modular and must be soldered directly onto the motherboard. This disrupts design, qualification, manufacturing, and user experience. Selecting a non-modular memory solution means the system builder is responsible for manufacturing failures, which could affect the motherboard and other BOM components, adding cost and rework. Solder-down memory also requires the motherboard to integrate the entire non-memory BOM, which increases the motherboard design cost. Finally, solder-down memory requires the user to choose a memory density for the laptop’s lifespan rather than buying for today and upgrading later.
To take advantage of LPDDR5X components in a modular form factor that can be serviced during manufacturing and upgraded by the user, LPCAMM2 is introduced. LPCAMM2 is the first modular LPDDR-based memory solution for the industry. This will revolutionize platform design and user experience.
LPDDR stacks 16 DRAM components in a package and saves power. DDR5’s best case is two die per package with wire bond stacking and four die per package with through silicon-via (TSV) stacking, which require expensive stacking technology and process (and TSVs have latency penalties that affect performance). Current notebook memory architecture allows up to 32 die on the 128-bit memory bus, but LPDDR can reduce it to four today and possibly two in the future.
This allows LPCAMM2 to fill the 128-bit memory bus with four memory placements using LPDDR stacks to determine density. Laptop designers no longer need to take into account 4-chip, 8-chip, and 16-chip SODIMMs, the industry standard for laptop memory. LPCAMM2 has the same form factor and memory placements across densities. Because LPCAMM2 takes up to 64% less space than a dual-SODIMM stack1 (motherboard + socket + memory), laptops can be thin and light and have larger batteries.
Lower power, modularity, and space savings must affect performance, right? No! LPDDR is already faster than DDR5 (6400MT/s vs. 5600MT/s), and LPDDR5X is expected to follow this trend until 9600MT/s, compared to 8800MT/s for DDR5. LPDDR has a slight performance penalty due to its different latency timings, but this is negligible compared to other factors like up to 61% power reduction2 and 64% space savings. TCO-wise, LPCAMM2’s benefits outweigh the case-by-case single-digit percentage performance penalty.
How do we keep LPCAMM2 affordable if it’s the you-can-have-it-all memory solution? Same metrics—performance, power, and TCO. Platform designers must decide whether to use LPCAMM2 as a high-performance, power-optimized memory solution or scale the SODIMM form factor to the same speeds. To scale beyond 5600MT/s, DDR5 requires more non-memory BOM components in the SODIMM, which increases cost. LPCAMM2’s new form factor requires a new socket, which increases cost.
However, LPCAMM2’s single memory module fills both memory channels (128 bits total), giving it an advantage. By contrast, SODIMM will remain a 64-bit memory solution, so everything you buy for the first memory channel must be bought again for the second. More non-memory BOM in the SODIMM worsens this. LPCAMM2, even with a more expensive socket, saves money by only requiring one set of non-memory BOM to reach 9600MT/s. LPCAMM2 also adds modularity/serviceability for platforms using solder-down LPDDR5X components, saving system builders manufacturing costs.
We rarely see a product that solves so many design and logistics issues and provides such a positive user experience that will improve the AI PC experience.
Micron is working with platform designers and partners to launch this innovative solution that optimizes performance, power, space savings, serviceability, and modularity. LPCAMM2 is the perfect memory solution for next-generation thin and light laptops, providing an unmatched user experience.