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How we make our server memory

How we make our server memory

Increase server performance with DRAM that’s monitored and tested from start to finish

Servers may power modern business, but it’s memory that powers servers. Since every server application relies on active data, reliable memory is key. That’s why it matters how your server memory is made – and why it matters that Crucial is a brand of Micron, one of the world’s only three memory manufacturers.




Memory manufacturers vs. memory assemblers

Only three companies in the world can legitimately claim to make memory from start to finish: Micron, Samsung, and SK Hynix. This is important because many third-party brands claim to be component manufacturers when they’re really assemblers who use a variety of components from a variety of vendors to piece together server modules.

Don’t put your systems at risk of downtime with server memory that’s been pieced together by an assembler. Choose server memory that’s been tested and monitored in every phase of production.

How Crucial server memory is made in three phases

There are three extremely detailed phases in the server memory manufacturing process: design and development, fabrication and assembly, and test – all of which are necessary to produce reliable modules you can count on to power your enterprise. Here’s what happens in each phase.



Phase I: Design and development

Our design team turns silicon blueprints into next-generation wafers and is the first point of differentiation between Crucial server memory and that made by end-assemblers who have to piece together modules from other suppliers.

Phase II: Fabrication and assembly

Utilising state-of-the-art equipment in clean rooms that are nearly 1,000,000 square feet (about 92,903 square meters) and cleaner than a hospital operating room, die are cut from choice wafers and assembled into components, then the components are assembled onto premium printed circuit board (PCB) to become modules. Overall, there are up to 15 stages in the assembly process to ensure quality down to the subatomic level.

Phase III: Test and
quality assurance

Occurring throughout the main design and assembly phases, the components and modules are subjected to six stages of testing.


Phase I: Design and development   

Designing server memory

  • Why this step matters: Quality finished modules are the result of quality design.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    Our vision for making fast and reliable server memory starts in the design process. We map out how silicon material gets turned into to a high-functioning finished module in a form factor supported by your system. We then use functionality and spec parameters that we obtain from server manufacturers and use these to create best-fit designs. Our designs must pass a 13-step process in which they’re produced, vetted, and heavily discussed before they’re approved for production.
Phase II: Fabrication and assembly   

From wafer to die

  • Why this step matters: Memory doesn’t become quality; the quality must be instilled from the very beginning.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    Everything that goes into the wafer (especially the raw materials) is extensively tested. The smallest mistake or defect in just one of the elements can ruin the finished product, and because of this, our procurement, engineering, and quality teams collaborate to ensure that stringent standards are met, which is directly related to quality.

From die to module

  • Why this step matters: Creating quality die is only part of the story – in order to end up in a server, die-level quality must be matched by the other pieces of the module.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    Precision diamond-blade wafer saws and high water pressure are used to separate die from the wafer. Using an electronic wafer map, the best die are selected and gold wire (as thin as 0.025 mm, or one-third the diameter of human hair) is attached from the bond pad of the die to the lead fingers of the frame. The die is then encapsulated in plastic and components attached to PCB. Modules are now ready to be tested.
Phase III: Test and quality assurance   

Probe

  • Why this step matters: It’s the starting point for identifying performance, yield, quality, and reliability.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? Some can.
  • » What happens:
    Once premium silicon has been turned into wafers, we use a component-level test process to screen the die (an element of the final server DRAM component) in each wafer. The die then go through functional, parametric, and schmoo testing in this step to determine the die-level disposition.

Burn

  • Why this step matters: Identifying failure rates is a critical step in delivering reliable server memory.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    We use unique Micron-built burn-in ovens to screen for early-life failures and ensure every die meets Micron reliability standards. The die are subjected to a wide range of extreme temperatures and voltages to verify wire bond integrity and screen for thermal leaks. Additionally, the die must pass signal integrity tests. If these tests are passed, the die is encapsulated and becomes a component.

Hot and cold final

  • Why this step matters: Extreme conditions separate the components susceptible to failure from the ones that will last.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? Some can.
  • » What happens:
    The components must pass speed, voltage, timing, and refresh margin tests at hot, cold, and ambient temperatures in order to check 10 key areas of performance. These tests are done to make sure the components maintain performance levels within specific ranges while under extreme stress.

Module assembly

  • Why this step matters: Memory is more than just components – the other parts must be able to complement the quality of the DRAM.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? Yes.
  • » What happens:
    The components are assembled onto a PCB and become finished modules in an eight-step process using high-speed automated pick-and-place machines and automated reflow ovens. After the module is assembled, it must then pass a hot module test to validate that it was assembled correctly.

Quality assurance

  • Why this step matters: Sustained performance over time is the definition of reliability.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    After a module passes tests outside the margins on the JEDEC specification datasheet, it’s subjected to more parametric and functional tests within the specified ranges on the datasheet that verify 10 areas of performance. Once the module’s electrical and mechanical performance has been validated, it’s ready to be packaged, shipped, and installed in your system.

Compatibility testing

  • Why this step matters: If modules aren’t compatible, then reliability and performance don’t matter.
  • Can it be done by anyone other than a true memory manufacturer? No.
  • » What happens:
    Not only do our server memory modules meet our high internal standards, they must meet or exceed industry standards. Nine different sets of qualification tests, using multiple motherboards, are used to measure performance to ensure Crucial server modules are compatible and perform as advertised before they’re packed and shipped.




Quality from start to finish

In all 34 stages of our manufacturing process and more than 100 tests and verifications, low-performing parts are weeded out, and only the best make it into your servers. Quality matters, and it’s the result of what happens at each and every phase of production. A memory assembler cannot replicate all of these steps. Only a true memory manufacturer can select, monitor, and test every aspect of production, which delivers a higher level of reliability that can’t be imitated. For more than 35 years, that’s exactly what we’ve done. Trust Crucial to deliver compatible server memory that boosts server performance and powers your enterprise for years to come.

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