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.

Formally Announced GDDR6 Plans by DRAM Makers
  Micron Samsung SK Hynix
Capacity 8 Gb 16 Gb? 8 Gb
Data Rate Over 12 Gbps 16 Gbps 12 Gbps, 14 Gbps
Voltage unknown 1.35 V 1.35 V
Process Technology 16 nm 18 nm (?) unknown
Availability Timeframe Early 2018 unknown Early 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.

Meanwhile, it's interesting to note that while the planned capacity of Samsung's new chips wasn't mentioned in the body of their announcement itself, it was in the title. Assuming this isn't a typo on Samsung's part, it looks like the company intends to produce 16 Gb chips. Notably this is twice the capacity of their current GDDR5 chips, but also twice the capacity of Micron and SK Hynix's previously announced GDDR6 memory. Which doesn't mean that Samsung will be offering 16 Gb chips right off the bat, but for gamers looking for cards with more than 8GB of VRAM, this could prove an interesting development.

Otherwise, it's worth noting that while Samsung's data rate goals here are welcomely aggressive, 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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Source: Samsung

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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    I'm a little surprised they're only talking about 8Gb chips; current games are already bumping up against the 8GB limit. Especially with the higher bandwidth I'd think there'd be demand for 2GB chips to get the total ram capacity up without massively increasing bandwidth beyond what's needed and driving up costs with extra thick PCBs to support all the extra traces needed for 12/16 ram chips. Reply
  • edzieba - Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - link

    "current games are already bumping up against the 8GB limit"

    Only if you take a naive look at vRAM utilisation. For years, games have aggressively cached texture and geometry data into vRAM up to the maximum possible (whether that's the limit of available vRAM, or until you run out of textures used in that level/stream chunk). The amount of vRAM actually NEEDED is a fraction of the amount used. That cached data can and is overwritten without any penalty, and can otherwise be treated as free space when it comes to live workloads.
    Reply
  • zepi - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    Samsung 16Gb GDDR6 Memory – The fastest and lowest-power DRAM for next generation, graphics-intensive applications. It processes images and video at 16Gbps with 64GB/s data I/O bandwidth....

    I think it is 2GB 16Gbps chip.
    Reply
  • PerterLustig - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    "The new DRAM can operate at 1.35 volts, offering further advantages over today’s graphics memory that uses 1.5V at only 8Gbps."

    Samsung skipped GDDR5X and therefore we can conclude it's the speed not the density. 1GB ICs is a joke to be honest.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    Yeah, I was wondering if that was as a typo or not.

    Quite an unfortunate typo, if that's the case.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    That doesn't make any sense. In your quote they're referring to the speed as "Gbps", as they should. they would have used the same instead of "Gb" for Gbit, if they meant the speed. Reply
  • lefty2 - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    Does anyone know will GDDR6 be bad for mining like GDDR5X was? Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    I didn't know GDDR5X was bad for mining. Is it just one specific type of cryptocurrency that it's not good for and why is that? You'd think faster memory wouldn't hurt anything. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    GDDR6 works much like GDDR5X (but will hit higher speeds), so the answer is "probably". Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - link

    I suppose Ethereum dislikes GDDR5X due to the higher latencies (as I haven't seen and can't think of a better explanation). At 16 Gbps the absolute latency of GDDR6 should be about similar to GDDR5 at 8 Gbps. I don't know if at that point Ethereum would benefit from the higher bandwidth, or if they're simply jumping in memory like mad (and hence would be mainly latency bound). Reply

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