Stacked camera sensors, 5G connectivity, and AI might be stealing the headlines of mobile news this year, but there’s a lot of tech that sits behind the scenes to make it all happen. Lightning fast LPDDR5 memory is one such piece of technology, and it’s bringing faster memory speeds and lower power consumption that enables devices to process vast amounts of data while improving battery performance.
Earlier this year Samsung announced that it had begun producing the industry’s first 12-gigabit (Gb) LPDDR5 mobile DRAM optimized for enabling 5G and AI features in future smartphones. It’s a legacy the company has been building towards since it first began producing LPDDR in 2011. But just what is this ultra-fast memory and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look.
Breaking down the acronym, LPDDR stands for low-power double data rate synchronous dynamic random access memory. Much like the DDR4 found in high-end PCs, it is the memory used to store short term data used by applications. Unlike its desktop equivalent, however, LPDDR comes with a smaller bit bus, which helps when it comes to power efficiency. LPDDR5 is the fifth generation of LPDDR and brings with it a number of key improvements designed to deliver next generation technology to mobile computing devices such as smartphones, tablets and ultra-thin notebooks.
Samsung’s latest LPDDR5 offering brings faster performance over previous generations making it an optimal memory solution for cloud computing, AI, autonomous cars, augmented reality and more. With a maximum of 12-gigabyte packages available, it can process up to 44GB of data, or about 12 full-HD (3.7GB-sized) movies, per second. Like the previous generation 4,266Mb/s LPDDR4X, its latest LPDDR5 is built on Samsung’s second-gen 10-nanometer chip, but with data rates of 5,500Mb/s, Samsung’s 12Gb LPDDR5 is approximately 1.3 times faster.
For consumers, this impressive bandwidth will be extremely helpful in applications such as gaming that requires low latency, or in the transmission of large data files such as HD and 4K videos. The increased speeds are thanks in large part to a doubling of memory banks over previous generations, from eight to sixteen, and a programmable, multi-clocking architecture. The new architecture also features a circuit dedicated to verifying and ensuring stable performance even at high speeds, so users barely experience interruptions no matter what task they are performing.
In addition to its blazing speeds, Samsung’s new LPDDR5 also consumes significantly less power than previous generations, meaning consumers can use their devices longer, even while delivering more computing power. Samsung’s LPDDR5 delivers up to 30% better power efficiency over previous generations thanks to an array of new and improved features including a new circuit design with enhanced clocking, a Data Copy Function that utilizes data patterns repeatability to reduce power consumption, a design that avoids writing into cells containing a 0 value or no data, and a new Deep Sleep Mode.
This new low power mode significantly improves power efficiency by turning off all internal processing except the self-refresh operation, cutting power usage to approximately half that of when the chip is idling. Additionally, when in active mode, the operating voltage of the chip fluctuates according to speed of the mobile processor in order to save power.
Although it has only been a few weeks since Samsung unveiled the 12Gb LPDDR5 – its highest-capacity smartphone DRAM yet – they have already hinted at expectations to develop a 16Gb LPDDR5 next year, solidifying their competitive edge in the global memory market.
In order to remain flexible while managing the production capacity, Samsung is considering transferring its 12Gb LPDDR5 production to its Pyeongtaek, Korea campus at the start of 2020, depending on demand from global customers.