In brief: Like other memory manufacturers, Samsung doesn’t expect DDR5 to become mainstream before 2023. In the meantime, the South Korean company is building monster-sized DDR5-7200 modules for the data center, starting with a 512-gigabyte one that will enter mass production by the end of this year.
The Hot Chips conference is still in flux, and Samsung is using the occasion to tease a special DDR5 memory module with a total capacity of over 512 gigabytes. This is a natural evolution from the current DDR4 modules that go up to 256 gigabytes in size, but it’s also a story of numerous challenges that the company needed to overcome in order to get here.
The DDR5-7200 module was first announced in March, and the memory chips are made using a High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process that reduces leakage and pushes the limits of what DRAM can achieve in terms of performance. It’s also a first for DRAM, although CPU manufacturers like Intel have been using this process technology since 2007 when the company used it for its Penryn Core 2 processors.
While JEDEC has yet to ratify a DDR5-7200 standard, Samsung didn’t reveal the latencies at which this new memory module operates. All we know is that it will offer 40 percent higher performance when compared to previous Samsung DDR4 RDIMM while operating at just 1.1 volts. This results in a 30 percent increase in power efficiency thanks in no small part to the integrated Power Management IC (PMIC) and a much-improved DRAM bus.
In terms of construction, Samsung says it stacks no less than eight DDR5 dies in less space than it needed for just half as many DDR4 dies. This was achieved by thinning the dies as well as the through-silicon via (TSV) connection between them, which led to a significant reduction in the overall height of the silicon package. The more compact size prompted the company to improve the cooling capabilities with lower airflow impedance.
It’s worth noting that this RAM module is intended for the server market, and as such we won’t be seeing such monstrous sized (and expensive) memory in consumer retail stores. It does, however, signal that 64-gigabyte modules are on the way, for consumers who will want to play games from a RAM disk as well as professionals who need them for workstation-class PCs.
Samsung’s 512-gigabyte DDR5-7200 module is expected to enter mass production by the end of this year.