Samsung Pre-Announces 16 Gbps GDDR6 Chips for Next-Gen Graphics Cards

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In a surprisingly early revelation, Samsung has confirmed their plans to produce GDDR6 memory. The announcement was made as a part of Samsung’s pre-CES marketing campaign and does not disclose any dates or timeframes. Though it is worth noting that with speeds up to 16Gbps, Samsung's chips are the fastest GDDR6 chips announced to date.

Last week Samsung issued a press release covering its products that had been recognized as CES 2018 Innovation Awards winners. Among other things, Samsung mentioned a number of unreleased products, including the Exynos 9 Series 9810 SoC for the next Galaxy smarphone, GDDR6 memory, as well as the Gear IconX (2018) headphones. Though with a focus on the awards themselves, Samsung has released little in the way of information on the products receiving awards. And while it is clear why Samsung would decide to withhold details about upcoming products (competition, the company does not want to spoil the actual launch, etc.), it is noteworthy that CEA does not require participating products to be mass-produced, or at least have a clear commercial availability timeframe.

GDDR6 is a memory standard that is set to be supported by all three leading DRAM manufacturers, so Samsung's participation has been expected. Less expected was any kind of announcement or reveal before the memory is shipping, as Samsung is notoriously tight-lipped about forthcoming memory products. Consequently and unfortunately, the announcement itself contains little details about the ICs themselves as well as the whole stack of GDDR6 products that Samsung is going to offer. What we do know is that they will feature data transfer rates of up to 16 Gbps at 1.35 V.

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Formally Announced GDDR6 Plans by DRAM Makers
MicronSamsungSK Hynix
Capacity8 Gbunknown8 Gb
Data RateOver 12 Gbps16 Gbps12 Gbps, 14 Gbps
Voltageunknown1.35 V1.35 V
Process Technology16 nm18 nm (?)unknown
Availability TimeframeEarly 2018unknownEarly 2018

Ahead of full scale production, one of the big questions on our end is which process and fab(s) Samsung will be using for this cutting-edge memory, especially with the ongoing DRAM shortage. A natural suspect would be Samsung’s 18 nm fabrication process for DRAMs, but the South Korean giant has not confirmed it. Yet another question is capacity of the said GDDR6 16 Gbps chips. Given the transfer rates, it is reasonable to guess that we are dealing with 8 Gb chips – especially since Micron and Hynix have already announced their own 8Gb chips – but we do not know this for sure.

Samsung is known for memory chips rated to run faster than competing offerings from its rivals. However, it's worth noting that AMD and NVIDIA don't always run new-generation memory at its maximum rated speed, often due to needing to nail down their memory controllers and firmwares. So the availability of 16Gbps chips does not necessarily mean that next year’s graphics cards will use Samsung's memory at its full speed.

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Related Reading:

  • Micron Discusses GDDR: 16 Gbps GDDR5X, 16 nm GDDR6 and GDDR5
  • SK Hynix: Customers Willing to Pay 2.5 Times More for HBM2 Memory
  • SK Hynix Advances Graphics DRAM: GDDR6 Added to Catalogue, GDDR5 Gets Faster
  • SK Hynix to Ship GDDR6 Memory for Graphics Cards by Early 2018

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