SK Hynix Unveils DDR5 Memory Details – Up To 8400 MHz Speeds, 64 Gb Densities, DRAM Mass Production This Year

Apr 2, 2020
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SK Hynix has unveiled its latest DDR5 memory roadmap in which it has confirmed to commence mass production of the next-generation DRAM chips this year. Back in November 2018, SK Hynix announced the development of the industry's first 1Ynm 16Gb DDR5 DRAM, built in accordance with the JEDEC standard and now they are giving us a glimpse of what's to come next.

SK Hynix Unveils DDR5 Memory Details - Up To 8400 MHz Speeds, 64 Gb Densities, Mass Production Commences This Year

According to SK Hynix, the DDR5 memory aims to offer more than two times the bandwidth when compared to DDR4 memory. It is stated that moving from DDR3 to DDR4 all the way back in 2013, there was a 33% increase in bandwidth (1600 Mbps to 2133 Mbps). With DDR5, SK Hynix's goal was to achieve more than 50% increase in bandwidth per DIMM.

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DDR5 memory will deliver:

  • Increase Performance
  • Increased Capacity
  • Increased Power & Cost Efficiency

“In the 4th Industrial Revolution, which is represented by 5G, autonomous vehicle, AI, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), big data, and other applications, DDR5 DRAM can be utilized for next-gen high performance computing (HPC) and AI-based data analysis,” said Sungsoo Ryu, Head of DRAM Product Planning at SK hynix. “DDR5 will also offer a wider range of density based on 16Gb and even 24Gb monolithic die, in order to meet the needs of cloud service customers. By supporting higher density and performance scalability compared to its predecessor, DDR5 has set a firm foothold to lead the era of big data and AI. With this, SK hynix will secure a competitive edge in the premium server market while providing distinguished memory solutions to customers.” - SK Hynix

In its DDR5 specifications table, SK Hynix mentions that we are looking at speeds ranging from 3200 MHz all the way up to 8400 MHz with DDR5. DDR4 in comparison has speeds ranging from 1600 to 3200 MHz as per the JEDEC standard, but we have seen tail-end iterations of DDR4 being pushed to 5000 MHz by various memory manufacturers. In a similar fashion, we might not get to see 8400 MHz DIMMs right from the start and they could end up being launched once the DRAM gets mature.

If we consider a 50% increase in bandwidth for DDR5, we will be looking at a more conservative 4800 MHz DRAM speeds on the first iteration of DDR5 memory which is still fast compared to the standard speeds we got to see on DDR4 DIMMs (usually 2800-3200 MHz).

In terms of density, DDR5 would rock up to 64 Gb DRAM densities, allowing for up to 64 GB DDR5 memory capacity on a single DIMM. There's also 24 Gb and 32 Gb DRAMs planned out which will result in either 24 GB or 48 GB capacities, depending on whether memory vendors want to go the dual-capacity route. Several memory manufacturers currently offer dual capacity DDR4 memory and motherboard vendors have added support for such DIMMs on their respective platforms. This started with the Intel Z390 platform and has since been pushed on certain X299 motherboards too.

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Other features that are required to push higher-bandwidth and will be introduced with the DDR5 memory include double the bank size (32 banks vs 16 banks) and also double the burst length that is increased to 16 compared to 8 of DDR4. Thirdly, DDR4 cannot perform other operations while refreshing, so it cannot be accessed from the system during refresh timing. However, DDR5 adopted the Same Bank Refresh function, allowing the system to access other banks when certain banks are operating, thus improving memory access availability.

In terms of power efficiency, DDR5 has an operating voltage of 1.1V compared to 1.2V on DDR4. So you are looking at 20% reduced power consumption per bandwidth. DDR5 memory would also feature on-die ECC and ECS allowing for further cost reduction for server-oriented platforms.

IDC has reported that DDR5 is expected to account for 22% of the total DRAM market in 2021 and 43% in 2022. When it comes to platforms, AMD's 3rd Gen EPYC Genoa and Intel's Sapphire Rapids Xeon server processors are confirmed to feature support for DDR5 memory. It is unclear as to when we will see the arrival of the new memory standard on consumer platforms but with AMD introducing its Zen 4 processors in 2021 and Intel introducing its next-gen Alder lake CPUs, it is likely that we might get to see DDR5 in action on consumer-side by late 2021 or early 2022.

Are you looking forward to next-generation PC platforms with DDR5 memory support?
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