How PC NAND Will Undermine DRAM

  • ID: 1848163
  • Report
  • 65 Pages
  • Objective Analysis
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DRAM growth has been driven by PC sales since the early 1980s, but that is about to end. Benchmarks prove that NAND flash yields more speed per dollar than DRAM. This study explains how NAND will displace DRAM in PCs, leading to a steady decline in DRAM revenues for the foreseeable future.

This report explores the performance of NAND flash versus DRAM in PCs as measured by industry standard benchmarks and finds that NAND flash provides more performance per dollar spent than does DRAM. This somewhat surprising result leads to Objective Analysis' natural conclusion that DRAM's position in the PC is threatened by NAND, and that changes that will undermine the DRAM market will start to evolve in the near term, forcing the DRAM market toward a foundry model over the longer term.

Key Findings:

- NAND flash already brings a greater performance boost per dollar to the PC than does DRAM.

- This has been verified through an exhaustive series of 288 benchmarks performed by Objective Analysis that are detailed in this report.

- Software is being developed to magnify this advantage.

- The price gap between NAND and DRAM is widening, to further amplify the difference.

- The price gap between HDD and NAND varies between 20-40 times and has settled into that ratio for the long term. This will prevent SSDs from displacing HDDs in PCs.

- Existing consumer purchasing patterns will help rather than hinder the adoption of NAND in PCs while it works against SSD adoption.

- NAND's adoption in PCs will cause DRAM bit growth to slow.

- DRAM is entering a phase of protracted overcapacity that will last from late 2011 well beyond the term of the forecast (2016).

- By 2016, $10 billion in annual DRAM revenues will have been lost to this phenomenon.

- The resulting growth in NAND revenues, totaling $1.6 billion in 2016, will not appreciably offset the decline in DRAM revenues.

- Between the market's revenue declines and the growing costs of installing new production capacity DRAM vendor consolidation will accelerate, pushing this market to a foundry model by 2020.
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Executive Summary

Introduction: The Best Speed-per-Dollar
General Observations

DRAM Yields Diminishing Returns

NAND Is Now Cheaper Than DRAM

NAND GBs Will Always Cost More than HDD

Benchmarks Run Faster on NAND than DRAM
Is Price a Legitimate Measure?
A Chart that Summarizes the Argument
How NAND Price Decreases Impact These Curves

PCIe Survey: Less DRAM
Cutting DRAM Cost & Power
DRAM Cache Replacement
From the Enterprise to the PC

How Consumer Behavior will Support NAND Use
OEM Decision Matrix
MLC: A Legitimate Choice?

Software Changes Will Drive NAND Adoption
Upgrades to Exisiting Software
Automatic Data Placement
Manual vs. Automatic Data Placement
Caching Firmware on a Hybrid Drive
Intel Smart Response Technology
NVELO's Dataplex
New Software Custom-Written for SSDs
University Research
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
Princeton University

How Will the DRAM Market be Impacted?
The Long-Term Outlook

PCs' Impact on NAND

The Tests
SYSmark 2007 Preview
HDxPRT 2010
PCMark Vantage
Applications

Methodology

Figures

Figure 1. Impact of DRAM Size on Several Benchmarks
Figure 2. Averaged Benchmark Data Shows Diminishing Returns of Adding DRAM
Figure 3. Historical DRAM and NAND Price per Gigabyte
Figure 4. Historical Ratio of DRAM Price to NAND Price
Figure 5. The Trend of DRAM vs. NAND Prices
Figure 6. Extrapolated DRAM and NAND Flash Manufacturing Cost
Figure 7. Flash & HDD Price per GB Are On Parallel Paths
Figure 8. Ratio of NAND to HDD Price per Gigabyte
Figure 9. Price and Performance of Systems with Two DRAM Sizes and Variable NAND
Figure 10. Price of Different Approaches to the 85% Performance Point
Figure 11. Performance of $120 DRAM/NAND/HDD Subsystem
Figure 12. 2012 Price and Performance of Systems with Two DRAM Sizes and Variable NAND
Figure 13. 2012 Prices for 85% Performance Point
Figure 14. Performance of $90 DRAM/NAND/HDD Subsystem (2012)
Figure 15. 2015 Price and Performance of Systems with Two DRAM Sizes and Variable NAND
Figure 16. 2015 Price of Different Approaches to the 85% Performance Point
Figure 17. Advertisement for Desktop PC
Figure 18. Advertisement for Notebook PC
Figure 19. Comparing Automatic and Manual Data Placement
Figure 20. A Hybrid HDD with a Small Main Memory is Faster than an HDD with a Large DRAM
Figure 21. Performance Improvement vs. Added Cost of All Options
Figure 22. SYSmark Productivity Suite Scores for HDD, SSD, and Cached Systems
Figure 23. PCMark Vantage HDD Test Scores for HDD, SSD, and Cached Systems
Figure 24. Latency of Various Media for 4KB Random Reads
Figure 25. Relative Significance of System Overhead
Figure 26. DRAM Gigabyte Growth Declines Due to NAND in the PC
Figure 27. DRAM Revenues Fall Into Constant Decline
Figure 28. DRAM Revenue Growth in Constant Decline
Figure 29. PC Cache will Make Up a Small Portion of the NAND Market
Figure 30. Drive Type Matters, DRAM Size Does Not
Figure 31. DRAM Size Matters, Drive Type Does Not
Figure 32. SYSmark 2007 Overall Score
Figure 33. SYSmark 2007, E-Learning
Figure 34. SYSmark 2007, Video Creation
Figure 35. SYSmark 2007, Productivity
Figure 36. SYSmark 2007, 3D
Figure 37. HDxPRT 2010, Create CD
Figure 38. HDxPRT 2010, Edit Videos
Figure 39. HDxPRT 2010, Digital Camera
Figure 40. HDxPRT 2010, On-The-Go
Figure 41. PCMark Vantage, Overall
Figure 42. PCMark Vantage, Memories
Figure 43. PCMark Vantage, TV & Movies
Figure 44. PCMark Vantage, Gaming
Figure 45. PCMark Vantage, Music
Figure 46. PCMark Vantage, Communication
Figure 47. PCMark Vantage, Productivity
Figure 48. PCMark Vantage, HDD
Figure 49. Adobe Photoshop CS5 (test script)
Figure 50. WinRAR, Compressing
Figure 51. WinRAR, Decompressing

Tables

Table 1. DRAM-NAND Splits for a Sub-$70 Memory Budget
Table 2. Intel's History of NAND in the PC
Table 3. Comparison of NVELO and Objective Analysis Test Benches
Table 4. Breakdown of Latency in Different Media
Table 5. Forecast for Worldwide DRAM Shipments as Impacted by NAND in the PC.
Table 6. PC NAND Cache Market Forecast
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