DDR5 will soon be in mass production for commercial use

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TrendForce, a global market research firm, recently released its top 10 technology industry trends for 2022. For the memory sector, it expects that DDR5 products will gradually enter mass production in 2022 and NAND Flash stack technology will go beyond 200 layers.

TrendForce, a global market research firm, recently released its top 10 technology industry trends for 2022. For the memory sector, it expects that DDR5 products will gradually enter mass production in 2022 and NAND Flash stack technology will go beyond 200 layers.

Memory technology generation upgrade, DDR5 shining on the scene

On July 15, 2020, to address the performance and power challenges facing a wide range of applications from client systems to high-performance servers, the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association officially released the final specification for DDR5 SDRAM, the next-generation mainstream memory standard (JESD79-5).

Compared to DDR4, DDR5 offers higher speed, higher capacity, and lower power consumption. The new DDR5 memory offers a maximum transfer rate of 6.4Gbps, double the speed of DDR4 memory.

DDR4 supports only up to 16Gb of DRAM capacity in single die package (SDP) model, while the DDR5 memory standard increases that number to 64Gb. This also means that DDR5 DIMMs can reach up to 256GB in SDP mode, which is four times the maximum capacity of DDR4 64Gb.

In addition, DDR5 also reduces the power supply voltage from 1.2V in DDR4 to 1.1V, which further enhances the energy efficiency performance of the memory.

Based on these advantages, DDR5 is seen as a "revolutionary" memory architecture. In terms of applications, it is widely believed that DDR5 will follow the pace of DDR4 and be widely used in PCs, data centers, and other fields.

DDR4 has spanned nearly a decade from the release of the first version in 2012 to the upcoming mass production application of DDR5. Compared to other hardware technologies, the frequency of memory updates is relatively slow, and because of this, each of its upgrades is anticipated.

Now that DDR5 is about to make its debut, how ready are the original manufacturers and module makers? Let's take a first look.

Advance layout, the three original manufacturers are ready to launch

In July 2020, JEDEC Solid State Technology Association officially released the DDR5 SDRAM standard specification, and before that, Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and Micron Technology three major original manufacturers have been building up their strength for this.

Samsung Electronics

Samsung announced in February 2020 the successful development of DDR5 chips, using a new silicon through-hole (TSV) 8-layer technology, each dual-row inline memory module (DIMM) provides up to 512GB of storage space, but also has error correction code (ECC) circuitry to improve product reliability.

On March 25 this year, Samsung announced the expansion of its DDR5 DRAM storage portfolio with the successful development of a single DDR5 module with 512GB capacity. The module uses the High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process to deliver more than double the performance of DDR4 memory, reaching 7200Mb/s.

In August, Samsung revealed at Hotchips 33, a global semiconductor industry conference, that mass production of 8-layer silicon through-hole DDR5 memory will begin by the end of 2022. Samsung has already produced a 4-layer stacked and integrated DDR4 memory module using TSV technology, and the entire chip is only 1.2mm thick. Samsung noted that the use of 8-layer TSV technology stack DDR5 thickness will be thinner than 1 mm, and has better heat dissipation features.

On October 12, Samsung announced the mass production of 14nm EUV DDR5 DRAM. Samsung's 14nm DRAM will help unleash speeds not seen in previous DDR5 products: up to 7.2Gbps, more than twice as fast as DDR4's 3.2Gbps.

At the same time, Samsung also plans to expand its 14nm DDR5 portfolio to support data center, supercomputer, and enterprise server applications.

SK Hynix

SK Hynix successfully developed 16Gb DDR5 DRAM in November 2018, and subsequently provided samples to core customers such as Intel and completed a series of tests with performance and compatibility verification procedures. This means that SK Hynix is ready to sell related products in the upcoming DDR5 market.

In October 2020, SK Hynix announced the world's first DDR5 DRAM with data transfer rates of up to 4800-5600 Mbps. 5600 Mbps transfer rate means the ability to transfer 9 Full HD (FHD) movies in 1 second. Not only that, the operating voltage of the product has been reduced to 1.1V from 1.2V of the previous generation, successfully reducing power consumption by 20%.

In July, SK Hynix revealed that it plans to introduce the 1a-nanometer-class process into DDR5 DRAM starting early next year.

It is worth mentioning that in July, SK Hynix announced the start of mass production of the fourth generation of 10nm-class DRAM using EUV technology and revealed that all future 1anm-class DRAM will be produced using the EUV process, so the EUV process is expected to be introduced into SK Hynix's DDR5 DRAM production next year.

Micron Technology

In January 2020, Micron Technology announced that DDR5 RDIMM based on 1znm process technology has started to send samples. DDR5 adopts advanced DRAM technology, with more than 85% higher performance and double the memory density compared to the previous generation DDR4, thus meeting the requirements of next-generation server workloads and data center systems for high bandwidth and high capacity of memory.

In July 2020, to accelerate DDR5 adoption, Micron announced the launch of its Technology Enablement Program, which includes Cadence, Montage, Rambus, Renesas, and Synopsys.

The Micron DDR5 Technology Enabling Program is a "one-stop-shop" where developers can access all key technical content. In addition, Micron is releasing sample DDR5 products through the program to support the growth of industrial design, development, and computing platforms.

In July 2021, Micron said the DDR5 Technology Enablement Program has expanded to more than 250 members from more than 100 companies in a variety of industries. Numerous headline companies in ecosystem and IP support, system integration, system architecture, CPU, and ASIC design have joined this program in an effort to collaborate for a smooth transition to DDR5.

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