Samsung recently announced that it had developed the first examples of a new generation of memory chips that will usher in the age of 5G and AI-powered applications for mobile devices. The technology follows the LPDDR5 framework, which looks set to dominate the world of tablets, smartphones, and laptops for the next few years. We take a look at LPDDR5 to see why it’s so important.
Did Samsung invent LPDDR5?
No. The memory specifications are traditionally agreed by JEDEC (the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) which is an organisation with over 300 members. These include Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Broadcom, IBM, Tesla, and Intel.
The idea is to create open standards that can then be used between devices without the need for specialist ports, parts, or other proprietary methods that would prove obstructive to manufacturers or customers.
The LPDDR4 standard was put in place back in 2014, but the specifications for LPDDR5 are still being discussed. That hasn’t stopped Samsung from developing its new chips though, which was also the case back in 2013 when it released the first 20nm LPDDR4 chips before the standard was even ratified.
Now, the world’s biggest seller of smartphones has pushed the envelope again with the eagerly anticipated 10nm LPDDR5 examples, although expect others to quickly follow suit.
LPDDR5 is faster and with better power management
The main strength of LPDDR5 is the increased performance on offer. And as with most technological advanced, it will require less power to achieve these speeds.
Samsung’s new chips are notable due to the fact that the Korean giant claims they will run 1.5x quicker than the ones they are intended to replace. The current spec rates them with a top speed of 6400Mb/s, which means they could be capable of transferring a whopping 51.2GB of data in a single second.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that the 8GB chips are built on a 10 nanometer-class process.
‘This development of 8GB LPDDR5 represents a major step forward for low-power mobile memory solutions,’ said Jinman Han, senior vice president of Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering at Samsung Electronics. ‘We will continue to expand our next-generation 10nm-class DRAM lineup as we accelerate the move toward greater use of premium memory across the global landscape.’
The Samsung LPDDR5 chips will be available in two varieties, one running at the aforementioned 6400Mbps and with an energy draw of 1.1v, with a second slightly slower option that offers 5500Mbps but reducing the draw to 1.05v.
Energy usage is a prime concern with the newer modules, and thanks to a Deep Sleep mode that uses half the power of the current Idle modes in LPDDR4 chips, plus the way the memory is designed to respond to how the device’s processor is working, Samsung states that the newer LPDDR5 models will reduce power consumption by up to 30 percent.
When will the new chips appear?
Samsung has already made and tested its latest innovation, but there’s no word yet on when the chips will appear on the market. The latest powerhouse phone from the company, the Galaxy Note 9, has been released recently, but came with the standard LPDDR4 fittings.
The company is a large supplier of memory chips to other manufacturers, so LPDDR5 could make its appearance in other flagship devices such as tablets or slimline laptops that appear at the start of 2019, but many are looking at the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 next year to see if it will make the transition into the handheld world.