One of the main memory manufacturers in the world, SK Hynix presented this Tuesday (24) the DRAM modules in the unprecedented LPDDR5T standard — with “T” being a symbol of the word “Turbo”. The novelties are an evolution of the very recent LPDDR5X, announced in November last year, and promise to improve transfer rates by a significant margin of up to 13%, while reducing consumption.
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Despite being a standard listed by JEDEC, the international consortium of companies responsible for regulating memory standards, the LPDDR5X RAM was introduced in November by Samsung Semiconductor, the semiconductor division of the South Korean giant. At the time, the company promised a huge leap in performance and efficiency over the traditional LPDDR5, providing speeds of up to 8.5 Gbps (or 8,500 Mbps), compared to the 7.5 Gbps of the older protocol.
The LPDDR5T memories, already approved by JEDEC, would go further by boosting these rates even more, as highlighted by SK Hynix, the first giant in the segment to adopt the solution. The company, also South Korean, guarantees that the debuting technology would be capable of providing transfer rates of up to 9.6 Gbps, plus a respectable gain of 13%, and the most interesting thing — still being part of the 7th generation of low-cost memories consumption (Low Power DDR, the LPDDR), which includes the LPDDR5X.
Gains would be achieved without a considerable increase in voltage, with the operating range going from 1.01 V to 1.12 V. In comparison, the LPDDR5X RAM advertised by Samsung can operate at lower voltages of 0.5 V, but it can reach very high values of 1.8 V. In practice, more compact devices that value battery life may end up opting for the lower voltage LPDDR5X, while more balanced devices looking for more performance should use the new LPDDR5T.
SK Hynix reveals that it has already sent test models to device manufacturers, with 16 GB of capacity each, obtained by combining multiple memory modules in a single package. These modules, according to the company, would be capable of processing up to 77 GB/s of data, which would be equivalent to transferring 15 films in Full HD resolution (1080P) per second.
Also during the announcement, the South Korean foundry highlighted some of the technologies it used to obtain the turbocharged specifications of the new memories. In addition to the proprietary 1 anm lithography, the fourth generation of the brand’s 10 nm manufacturing process, the High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process was adopted, or High-K Metal Gate, in free translation, in which the K represents the dielectric constant of the insulating materials present in the memories.
The dielectric constant defines the ability of a material to accumulate charge, also known as capacitance — the higher it is, the more charge can be accumulated. Through the HKMG process, the giant adopts a material with a high dielectric constant (hence, High-K) in the insulating film installed in the DRAM, thus preventing leakage of electric current and, as mentioned earlier, increasing the capacitance. SK Hynix explains that these features reduce power consumption and increase speed.
LPDDR5T memories are expected to be adopted mainly by ultra-thin notebooks and smartphones, especially with the rise of 5G, which should increase the overall consumption of devices. That said, they are yet to be seen in other segments such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Virtual and Augmented Realities (VR/AR). There are no deadlines for when we would see the launch reach these products, but since they are already in testing, it is likely that news will be announced by the end of this year.
It is also interesting to note how SK Hynix cites LPDDR6 memories in its press release, which suggests that JEDEC and the board of manufacturers are already working on 8th generation low-power memory, which is expected to reach 17 Gbps when the technology is more mature. .