Samsung continues to drive the state of the art in the DRAM (memory) market. The company just announced that it was starting mass production of LPDDR4, an industry first.
LPDDR4 is expected to soon be surplanted by the "hybrid memory cube" (HMC) -- a joint effort by Samsung and the other top players in the memory industry to develop a stacked DRAM package (aka vertical-DRAM (v-DRAM)) using through silicon via (TSV) technology. But for the next year or two, LPDDR4 is expected to be the state of the art, delivering cost savings, higher densities, and greater power savings.
Samsung is not alone in the LPDDR4 game, although it is the first to hit mass production. Both Boise, Idaho-based Micron and SK Hynix started sampling DDR4 and LPDDR4 packages earlier this year.
To consumers the most visible sign of this new technology will be an increase in the number of high end smartphones with 4 GB of DRAM or more.
Samsung's first mass production LPDDR4 chips are built on a 20 nm process and are 8-Gigabits (1 GB). Initially Samsung will offer a 2 GB package, using a pair of 8-Gb. Typically smartphone memory is today stacked under the system-on-a-chip (SoC) in a single package solution, although the memory is printed on separate dies.
Starting early next year Samsung will offer a 4-chip solution which will offer 4 GB to smartphones. This is similar to this year's 3 GB solutions which use four 6 Gb chips from Samsung or rival memory manufacturers.
Samsung's EVP of memory sales/marketing, Joo Sun Choi, suggests that the extra gigabyte of memory will help smartphones utilized ultra-HD (aka "4K") displays in 2015. He comments:
As this major advancement in mobile memory demonstrates, we will continue to closely collaborate with global mobile device manufacturers to optimise DRAM solutions, making them suitable for next-generation mobile OS environments.
By initiating production of the 2nm 8-gigabit LPDDR4, which is even faster than the DRAM for PCs and servers and consumes much less energy, we are contributing to the timely launch of UHD, large-screen flagship mobile devices.
He also added in a press release that even in the 2 GB form factor, the new LPDDR4 chips are expected to be cheaper than their LPDDR3 predecessors and will consume an estimated 40 percent less power versus LPDDR3.