The Business Times

Samsung unveils next-generation memory for data-hungry AI and computers

Published Fri, Mar 26, 2021 · 05:50 AM


SAMSUNG Electronics will release a new generation of memory chips in late 2021, its first in seven years, that promises to double speeds and offer the biggest capacity yet to keep pace with the growth of data centres and artificial intelligence (AI) demands.

The world's largest memory chipmaker said it developed 512GB DDR5 (Double Data Rate 5) memory modules based on a High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) fabrication process that's traditionally been used in logic chips. DDR5 memory will be twice as fast as the current DDR4 while reducing leakage and using about 13 per cent less power, the company wrote in its announcement.

Samsung expects the transition to DDR5 to begin in the second half of this year. The chip industry has been anticipating the adoption of the new memory standard and support for it will arrive with Intel's upcoming Xeon Scalable processors, codenamed Sapphire Rapids.

In addition to partnering with the two major CPU suppliers, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, Samsung has sent samples of its new memory out to developers of data centre platforms, the company told Bloomberg News.

"We will have a new DRAM generation in late 2021 or 2022 for the first time in six to seven years. Higher speed, lower power consumption and higher reliability should enable advanced high-performance computing in the coming AI era," said analyst Masahiro Wakasugi.


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Analysts estimate DDR5 chips will be about 20 per cent larger than DDR4 parts, leading to increased pressure on semiconductor supply chains.

Samsung intends to begin shipments this year and gradually evolve both its fabrication processes - expanding the use of extreme ultraviolet lithography - and pricing, which will include a premium for the early period.

The crossover between DDR4 and DDR5 is expected to happen as early as the second half of 2023, the Suwon-based company said.

"As the penetration rate of DDR5 gradually rises, the shortage of DRAM is expected to persist in 2022," said Avril Wu, vice-president at TrendForce Research. "We also expect a 30 to 40 per cent price hike to take place initially." BLOOMBERG

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