SK Hynix fires up its foundries for 16 Gb/s GDDR6


— 9:11 AM on April 25, 2017

In some circles, High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) has already been crowned as the graphics card memory of the future. However, it's still not the time to forget about trusty ol' GDDR. SK Hynix has announced that it will produce GDDR6, the successor to the widely-used GDDR5 and GDDR5X, and plans to have the chips available in consumer products sooner than many might expect.

SK Hynix is calling its product the world's fastest 8Gb-capacity DRAM. Considering that its chips operate at 16 Gb/s per pin, that claim might not be bluster, seeing as GDDR5X tends to cap out at 12 Gbps in practice. Samsung might have cause to dispute SK Hynix's claim for first place in the speed ranking, seeing as it's already working on GDDR6 as well. However the footrace between the companies shakes out, SK Hynix says that users should expect GDDR6 to double the speed of GDDR5 while operating at 10% lower voltage.

So what kind of memory bandwidth will GDDR6 enable in future products? The company is being understandably coy about the details, but SK Hynix did tease some details about an upcoming graphics card with a 384-bit memory bus that offers up to 768 GB/s of theoretical bandwidth. For the sake of comparison, Nvidia's top-of-the-line Titan Xp also has a 384-bit memory bus and theoretically has 547.7 GB/s of RAM bandwidth.

That said, SK Hynix won't steal a business partner's thunder by announcing a new consumer graphics card in one of its press releases. The company did sketch out a few of its own plans. It will start mass producing GDDR6 this year and says that consumers will see the chips in a high-end graphics card in early 2018. SK Hynix says that it's been collaborating with a "core graphics chipset client," and hopes that its GDDR6 chips will gain acceptance among graphics card vendors as replacements for existing GDDR5 and GDDR5X technologies.

HBM3 is also on the horizon, but considering that early estimates put it in mass production no sooner than 2019 or 2020, SK Hynix might have a window of opportunity for GDDR6 to be the top dog in the market.

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