In the race to come up with the most powerful and most efficient chips, South Korean tech giant Samsung has started mass producing DDR4 memory chips that are based on the latest 10-nanometer (nm) class process. Samsung said the new DRAM is faster and more energy efficient than DDR4 memory chips that are made with the older 20nm-class process.
DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) chips are rectangular arrays of memory cells with support logic for reading and writing data in a computer’s data structure. DRAM is critical to computing systems because it’s where data is temporarily stored while information is being processed.
Unlike NAND flash memory, in which a single cell consists of only a transistor, each DRAM cell requires a capacitor and a transistor that are linked together, usually with the capacitor placed on top of the area where the transistor rests. Samsung created the new 10nm-class cell structure with help from a proprietary circuit design technology and quadruple patterning lithography.
More Energy Efficient
The 10nm-class DRAM will enable the highest level of investment efficiency in IT systems, as well as create new growth in the global memory industry, said Young-Hyun Jun, the company’s president of memory business. “In the near future, we will also launch next-generation, 10nm-class mobile DRAM products with high densities to help mobile manufacturers develop even more innovative products that add to the convenience of mobile device users,” he said in a statement.
The smaller size of the memory chip is important because the speed of the memory helps dictate how fast data moves through a computer. The new memory chips have a maximum speed of 3,200 MHz, which is notably faster than the 2,400 MHz on the company’s older DDR4 memory chips.
Like CPUs and graphics processors, DRAM is also getting more energy efficient as chips get smaller. The new modules will draw 10 percent to 20 percent less power than DDR4 memory made using the older 20-nm class process. DDR4 memory first reached servers in 2014, and Samsung's faster DRAM are helping large-scale server applications and speeding up in-memory databases.
In addition to consumer-level computers, the first 8-gigabit chips will also go into servers and phones eventually. Samsung plans to make 10nm-class DDR4 memory with capacities ranging from 4 GB for notebook PCs to 128 GB for enterprise servers. Modules will be available this year, although Samsung hasn’t revealed an exact release date.
Later this year, Samsung will also release 10nm class mobile DDR4 DRAM for smartphones, according to Jun. Some smartphones are already available with LPDDR4 memory chips, which is a low-power version of DDR4. The mobile DDRA might be a faster form of memory that could fit into handsets.
Image Credit: 10nm-class DRAM, from Samsung via Business Wire.
Image credit: Product shot by Samsung.