The Next Gen of Memory: Micron and MediaTek Team Up to Validate LPDDR5X

November 19, 2021 by Jake Hertz

Hoping to unlock AI and 5G smartphone innovations, Micron and MediaTek, leveraging 1α node technology, have validated the next generation of memory: the LPDDR5X.

In today’s world, memory-intensive applications like AI and computational photography memory applications are being demanded more and more on edge devices. The challenge here is non-trivial, as edge devices need to be low power and space-efficient, yet they now need the memory and computing resources to support these applications. 

One of the essential technologies towards achieving this is Low-Power Double Data Rate (LPDDR) memory, which has become the major form of RAM in mobile devices such as smartphones. This week, Micron, in collaboration with MediaTek, announced that they are the first in the industry to validate and deliver new LPDDR5X memory successfully. 


Micron's latest LPDDR5X memory solution. Image used courtesy of Micron


Recently, All About Circuits had the chance to talk with Chris Moore, VP of Marketing for the Mobile Business Unit at Micron, to hear firsthand about their latest memory development.


The State of LPDDR 

LPDDR technology is a form of DDR SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory), which has become the most widely used form of RAM in mobile devices today. 

A standard upheld by JEDEC, LPDDR generally operates at lower supply voltages and faster speeds than DDR and provides mobile devices with improved performance and low power consumption than DDR. 

Today, the most advanced form of LPDDR on the market is LPDDR5 and LPDDR5X. The latter of which has not been brought to market by any company until this week.


Comparing generations of LPDDR.

Comparing generations of LPDDR. Image used courtesy of Synopsys


Compared to previous generations, LPDDR5 and LPDDR5X offer improved bandwidth, lowered and lower supply voltage, making them the most performant and efficient options. 

Both LP5 and LP5X are even more power-efficient thanks to the implementation of Dynamic Voltage Scaling (DVS) techniques. In this technique, designers can dynamically adjust the supply voltage and DRAM frequency for different logic paths to balance power and speed, allowing for major savings in power consumption. 

As far as the difference between LPDDR5 and LPDDR5X, Moore tells us, “LP5 ran at a maximum speed of 6.5 gigabits per second. LP5X maximum speeds will be 8.5 gigabits per second.” On top of this, LPDDR5X is said to increase bandwidth as compared to LPDDR5.


Micron and MediaTek Take On LPDDR5X 

Today, Micron and MediaTek have jointly announced that the two companies have worked to be the first to sample and validate LPDDR5X. 

Explicitly designed for high-end and flagship smartphones, Micron’s LPDDR5X was validated with MediaTek’s new Dimensity 9000 5G flagship chipset. 

Built on Micron’s 1α (1-alpha) node technology, the new LPDDR5X is said to support data rates up to 7.5 Gb/s, with 8.533 Gb/s thought to be achievable in the very near term future. At 8.533 Gb/s, LPDDR5X would represent a 33% faster performance increase from the previous generations. 

While intuitively one might think the scaling to 1-alpha would be the source of these improvements, Moore objects, telling us, “scaling provides benefits in power, capacity, and cost, but the improvements in speed are really around the IOs.” 


The backside of Micron’s new LPDDR5X. Image used courtesy of Micron


In terms of performance, one of the major benefits of faster LPDDR can be seen in applications like computational photography. As Moore tells us, “when running at full speed, we are going to see about 35% faster shoot time and the potential to have about 50% better photo resolution.” 

However, this increased speed not only leads to increased performance but an increased power efficiency as well. Moore further explains, “...we can transfer data back and forth to the SoC much faster, meaning that the SoC can compute faster and hence spend more time in sleep mode. All things considered, that actually has a more significant power savings than the DRAM itself.”


The Next Steps for Memory 

The validation of Micron’s LPDDR5X for MediaTek’s new Dimensity 9000 5G chipset marks the first time we know that LPDDR5X has been successfully validated. 

The companies hope that the new technology will enable higher bandwidth to support the complex, data-intensive applications the new 5G era demands. It will be exciting to see where this technology goes in the future now that it has been validated.