Samsung unveils 512GB DDR5 DRAM for high-performance computing

Artist rendition of Samsung's 512GB HKMG-based DDR5 RAM
(Image credit: Samsung Electronics)

Samsung has expanded its memory portfolio with a uniquely-designed form of 512GB DDR5 DRAM to support advanced computing, including supercomputing and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads.

The firm claims its 512GB DRAM modules will deliver twice the performance of DDR4 memory with up to 7,200Mbps transfer rates, giving these units the capacity to orchestrate extreme compute-hungry, high-bandwidth workloads.

These are the first DDR5 DRAM modules to be developed based on the High-K/Metal Gate (HKMG) fabrication process, conventionally used to build microprocessors. The 512GB unit that Samsung has developed comprises eight layers of 16GB DRAM chips to offer the largest capacity of 512GB.

Examples of where these units will be deployed include supercomputing, AI, and machine learning, as well as data analytics applications.

“Samsung is the only semiconductor company with logic and memory capabilities and the expertise to incorporate HKMG cutting-edge logic technology into memory product development,” said vice president of Samsung’s DRAM Memory Planning/Enabling Group, Young-Soo Sohn.

“By bringing this type of process innovation to DRAM manufacturing, we are able to offer our customers high-performance, yet energy-efficient memory solutions to power the computers needed for medical research, financial markets, autonomous driving, smart cities and beyond.”

DDR5 is the next generation of memory standard, versus DDR4 units currently fitted into consumer and enterprise computing systems, promising higher performance levels as well as lower power consumption.

The standard was officially announced in July 2020 and was followed by the launch of the first commercially available 16GB unit of DDR5 DRAM in October last year by SK Hynix. This unit supports data transfer rates 1.8 times faster than DDR4, with a reduced power consumption of 20%.

Samsung’s 512GB DDR5 DRAM module has been developed in a different way to conventional fabrication methods, however, taking advantage of HKMG technology.

The scaling down of DRAM structures from generation to generation has led to a thinning of the insulation traditionally used in memory, leading to a higher leakage current. Samsung claims that replacing the conventional insulator with HKMG material will reduce leakage current, improve performance, and result in roughly 13% less power consumption. This would make it suitable for data centres where energy efficiency is becoming more of a priority.

Samsung is currently sampling different variations of its DDR5 DRAM memory product family to its customers for verification and certification with their AI and machine learning, exascale computing, analytics, and networking workloads.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.