Samsung Unleashes Fastest Ever HBM2 ‘Aquabolt’ Capable Of Achieving 2.4 Gbps On 1.2v, Increasing Performance Per Watt By 50%

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Jan 11, 2018
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Samsung has announced during CES a brand new HBM2 product which they are calling ‘Aquabolt’. The Aquabolt HBM2 is basically a much faster variant of the original HBM2 capable of achieving 2.4 Gbps speeds and an 8-Hi height (8GB) which would make it ideal for many situations including, but not limited to, data centers and of course graphics cards. This would be the first time an HBM2 product delivers 2.4 Gbps out of the box.

Samsung intros HBM2 ‘Aquabolt’ to succeed the older HBM2 ‘Flarebolt’ platform, 32 GB vRAM with 1.2 TB/s bandwidth on graphics cards now possible

So just how fast is 2.4 Gbps?  Well, memory speeds are listed in gigabits per second, so first we have to convert this to gigabytes per second. That would be roughly 300 MBps per pin. Now bandwidth per package can be found simply by multiplying the available memory speed by the bus width. Since 1024 is usually the bus width, we will get roughly 307 GB/s bandwidth per package. Now, we are assuming that we are only using 1* 8-Hi stack. If we are talking about a 32 GB product using 4 stacks, the total bandwidth would exceed 1.2 TB/s which is simply phenomenal and far exceeds what GDDR is capable of. To put this into perspective, while GDDR5 can attain speeds of up to 8 Gbps, their bus width per package is usually 32 which puts the total bandwidth per package at a measly 32 GB/s (as compared to 307 GB/s on HBM2 ‘Aquabolt’).

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Of course, the applications for this memory are endless. High end graphics cards, high end laptops, datacenters, you name it and it can probably do it. As Samsung’s production scales, the cost of HBM in general is going to come down and with it the prices of certain high end GPUs like AMD’s Vega series. We expect price slashes on older HBM2 generation to occur soon if they haven’t already, bringing down AIB’s cost of production and therefore the cost to the consumer.

“With our production of the first 2.4Gbps 8GB HBM2, we are further strengthening our technology leadership and market competitiveness,” said Jaesoo Han, executive vice president, Memory Sales & Marketing team at Samsung Electronics. “We will continue to reinforce our command of the DRAM market by assuring a stable supply of HBM2 worldwide, in accordance with the timing of anticipated next-generation system launches by our customers.”

Samsung’s new 8GB HBM2 delivers the highest level of DRAM performance, featuring a 2.4Gbps pin speed at 1.2V, which translates into a performance upgrade of nearly 50 percent per package, compared to the company’s 1st-generation 8GB HBM2 package with its 1.6Gbps pin speed at 1.2V and 2.0Gbps at 1.35V.

With these improvements, a single Samsung 8GB HBM2 package will offer a 307 gigabytes-per-second (GBps) data bandwidth, achieving 9.6 times faster data transmission than an 8 gigabit (Gb) GDDR5 chip, which provides a 32GBps data bandwidth.* Using four of the new HBM2 packages in a system will enable a 1.2 terabytes-per-second (TBps) bandwidth, which will improve overall system performance by as much as 50 percent, compared to a system that uses a 1.6Gbps HBM2.

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Samsung’s new Aquabolt significantly extends the company’s leadership in driving the growth of the premium DRAM market. Moreover, Samsung will continue to offer leading-edge HBM2 solutions, to succeed its 1st-generation HBM2, Flarebolt™, and its 2nd-generation, Aquabolt, as it further expands the market over the next several years.

To achieve Aquabolt’s unprecedented performance, Samsung has applied new technologies related to TSV design and thermal control. A single 8GB HBM2 package consists of eight 8Gb HBM2 dies, which are vertically interconnected using over 5,000 TSVs (Through Silicon Via’s) per die. While using so many TSVs can cause collateral clock skew, Samsung succeeded in minimizing the skew to a very modest level and significantly enhancing chip performance in the process.

In addition, Samsung increased the number of thermal bumps between the HBM2 dies, which enables stronger thermal control in each package. Also, the new HBM2 includes an additional protective layer at the bottom, which increases the package’s overall physical strength.

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