Micron Drives Toward 16Gbps GDDR5X And GDDR6 Graphics Memory For Production Ramp Q1 2018

There are competing memory standards in the graphics industry, including GDDR5, GDDR5X, and high bandwidth memory (HBM) solutions. What will tomorrow bring? If you ask Micron, the memory with roots in Boise, Idaho will tell you that it has a roadmap in place for faster GDDR5X memory and is also working on next-generation GDDR6 memory chips.

For geeks like us, it has been interesting to observe the evolving graphics memory standards. For a moment in time, it looked like HBM (and now HBM2) chips were the future, but Micron proved that GDDR still had legs when it announced in 2015 that it was developing a next-generation memory technology called GDDR5X. Now a current generation standard, GDDR5X memory chips are found on some high-end graphics cards, such as NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.

GDDR5X - Source: Micron

Fast forward to today and Micron is still extolling the performance potential of GDDR. It is all about increasing memory bandwidth. When Micron first launched GDDR5X memory chips a little over a year ago, those were binned with a 10Gbps speed sort. Since then, Micron has increased data rates and yields to where it is now producing 10Gbps, 11Gbps, and even 12Gbps GDDR5X memory chips. Now the company is taking about 16Gbps.

Micron's graphics design team in Munich has already achieved 16Gbps data rates in its high-speed test environment, and has done it with "great timing and voltage margin." According to Micron, the bandwidth and voltage characteristics it is seeing from its latest memory chips represent a meaningful sample size of its mass product GDDR5X silicon and not just theoretical simulation data.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Memory

The jump in bandwidth means that GDDR5X will remain relevant for at least another generation of graphics cards. In addition, Micron is applying its advancements in GDDR5X memory production towards its GDDR6 efforts.

"We strongly believe that our expertise and experience running ultra-high data rates on GDDR5X is going to be a big advantage for driving performance in GDDR6," Micron said. The company added that "GDDR6 will continue down the successful path of G5X high speed signaling based on conventional DRAM packaging."

That said, there are some differences between that two. One of them is the introduction of an FBGA180 ball package with increased pitch for GDDR6 memory. The other is support for a dual-channel architecture.

Micron says its development of GDDR6 is still on track and that it expects to have functional silicon "very soon," followed by mass production in early 2018.