Samsung Launches Industry’s First 24 Gbps GDDR6 DRAM
Samsung began sampling new 16 Gbps GDDR6 DRAM featuring 24 Gb/s speed to power next-generation computing systems.
Graphics double data rate 6 (GDDR6) DRAM (dynamic random access memory) is a high-speed synchronous memory technology specialized for applications requiring high bandwidth like graphics processing units (GPUs) and high-performance computing.
Despite its primary use in graphics-driven applications, GDDR has recently found its way into automotive and networking applications.
With GDDR memories finding growing use in AI, Samsung has recently announced that it has begun sampling its 16 Gb GDDR6 DRAM featuring 24 Gb/s speed, claiming it can deliver 30% faster speeds compared to Samsung's previous 18 Gb/s product. In addition, Samsung believes it can transfer up to 1.1 Tb of data in one second and features low-power options to extend the battery life of devices.
Samsung's latest GDDR6 DRAM. Image used courtesy of Samsung
With that innovation in mind, we'll first give a brief overview of GDDR6 and then look into Samsung's latest GDDR6.
A Brief Overview of GDDR6
GDDR SDRAMs share some of the features of double data rate (DDR) SDRAMs, such as transferring data with DDR. However, they can be very distinct in terms of performance. Furthermore, GDDR6 is the successor of GDDR5, featuring 16 Gbit/s per-pin bandwidth and a lower operating voltage of 1.35 V, translating to an increase in performance and a decrease in power consumption.
As for applications, we mentioned that GDDR has recently found its way into more areas. Some examples are how GDDR RAMs can power visual dashboards and artificial intelligence (AI)-based advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for autonomous driving. Other applications include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and network interface cards (NICs) in data centers.
Example comparison of Micron's GDDR6, GDDR5, and DDR4. Screenshot used courtesy of Micron
DDR memories are designed for extremely low latency to transfer small bits of cache data as fast as possible. On the other hand, GDDRs are designed to move a large amount of data, which is common in graphic workloads and AI workloads with huge data sets. Therefore, GDDRs require a wide memory bus that allows for wide bandwidths.
Regarding evolution, DDRs have continued increasing speed while focusing on density at the expense of bandwidth. On the other hand, GDDRs focus on high bandwidth. GDDR4 operates for 1.6 Gb/s–3.2 Gb/s, GDDR5 up to 6 Gb/s, and now GDDR6 reaches 16 Gb/s and beyond.
With this significant increase in throughput, while still maintaining standard packaging, GDDR6 has further broadened its application and found its use in NICs in data centers.
Samsung's 24 Gb/s GDDR6 DRAM
Hoping to keep making waves in the GDDR industry, Samsung recently began sampling its 16 Gb GDDR6 DRAM featuring 24 Gb/s processing speeds. It is built on Samsung's third generation 10 nm process using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology, an optical lithography technique using extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.
The new GDDR6 aims to meet the growing demand for greater graphics capabilities and simultaneously process large data sets in AI-driven applications.
Previously in January 2018, Samsung claimed to have started mass production of the industry's first 16 Gb GDDR6 DRAM featuring 18 Gb/s of processing speeds.
Samsung's 16 Gb GDDR6 DRAM. Image used courtesy of Samsung
It could transfer 72 Gb of data per second and operate at 1.35 V, which resulted in lower power consumption than GDDR5 memories that run at 1.55 V. This DRAM was used in NVIDIA's Turing architecture-based Quadro RTX GPUs targeted for 8k ultra-HD processing, VR, AR, and AI applications.
As for 24 Gb/s solutions, they were designed with highly insulating material and innovative circuits for minimum leakage currents. As a result, it delivers 30% faster speeds compared to the 18 Gb/s solutions. Concerning the design of this DRAM, high-k dielectric materials or materials with a high dielectric constant are used in the semiconductor manufacturing processes, where they are usually used to replace the silicon dioxide gate dielectric.
As the thickness of the transistor gates scales below a few nanometers, the leakage currents increase drastically due to tunneling. High-k materials allow for higher capacitance without leakage effect.
Samsung's new GDDR6 products also feature low-power options and dynamic voltage switching (DVS) technology that adjusts operating voltage depending on the performance requirements. Moreover, the new RAM claims to be fully compliant with JEDEC specifications, which means that it will be compatible across all GPU designs, facilitating faster market adoption.
With the customer verifications starting this month, Samsung announced that it would commercialize its 24 Gbps GDDR6 DRAM in line with GPU platform launches, catering to the high-speed computing market.