Samsung fires up fabrication of “10-nm class” DDR4 RAM

There's an old saying among IT folks that Intel is the 800-lb gorilla in the CPU space. That description also fits Samsung when it comes to memory fabrication. The Korean company has now unveiled its first 8Gbit DDR4 RAM chips built on a "10-nm class" process, a name which Samsung uses to describes process nodes ranging from 10 to 19 nm.

According to Samsung, the new fabrication process allows for 8Gbit RAM chips rated at 3,200 MT/s, substantially faster than the company's equivalent 20-nm chips rated for 2,400 MT/s. Not only are the new chips faster, they're less power-hungry, too—Samsung estimates power consumption to be 10% to 20% lower than chips from the previous generation. The improved fabrication process also nets Samsung a 30% improvement on wafer productivity, too.

Samsung expects to be shipping RAM modules with capacities from 4GB to 128GB throughout the year, targeted at products ranging from notebooks to servers. The company also says it'll make use of the new technology in high-density, high-speed mobile DRAM products set to be released later this year.

The company says this RAM's improved characteristics make it ideal for both mobile and HPC server scenarios. In order to create chips with such a high density, Samsung's engineers made use of argon fluoride immersion litography (avoiding the usage of EUV litography) with a quadruple patterning process, as well as a new process that more uniformly applies ultra-thin dielectric layers.

Comments closed
    • Crayon Shin Chan
    • 4 years ago

    The last sentence makes it sound like the ArF laser was partly responsible for the increased density. It isn’t, it’s the normal 193nm laser that everybody else uses. What’s really new here is probably the quadruple patterning as well as the ‘cylindrical capacitor’ according to Anandtech.

    • albundy
    • 4 years ago

    “substantially faster” how and where?

    • anotherengineer
    • 4 years ago

    I wonder how susceptible 10nm will be to rowhammer?

    • yuhong
    • 4 years ago

    Thinking about it, Intel seems to have outlawed x16 chips on DIMMs/SO-DIMMs making 4GB sticks impossible with 8Gbit DDR4. And of course, you know that single channel RAM is bad for AMD APUs such as Bristol Ridge. I wonder if 16GB of RAM will ever become mainstream on laptops.

      • Shobai
      • 4 years ago

      8x 8Gbit RAM ICs per stick would net you 8GB RAM per stick, no?

        • yuhong
        • 4 years ago

        Yes, the point is that dual channel RAM would require two sticks.

    • UberGerbil
    • 4 years ago

    “30% improvement on wafer productivity” — I’d expect that translates into 20% more profitable for them, 10% cheaper for you.

    But considering how the memory guys get killed on profitability whenever they have to change process (the early adopters make back their huge capex eventually, the slowpokes not so much), I suppose we should be happy Samung etc are still pushing forward at all.

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 4 years ago

      Since RAM often turns into a fight of who can get the lowest cost per GB, Samsung might as well as make some extra profit while the market hasn’t been saturated yet.

      Unless if someone sets a DRAM fab plant on fire, like what happened with HDDs…

        • biffzinker
        • 4 years ago

        I thought it was flooding in Thailand that caused the spike in prices for HDDs? Didn’t Sk Hynix have a fire at a DRAM plant?
        [url=http://www.techspot.com/news/54115-memory-chip-prices-reach-two-year-high-in-wake-of-hynix-plant-fire.html<]Memory chip prices reach two-year high in wake of Hynix plant fire[/url<]

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        Actually there was a RAM fire back in 2013 and if memory serves there was another big one back in the 80s.

        [url<]http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/sep/06/china-fire-memory-chip-prices[/url<]

          • faramir
          • 4 years ago

          It was in the 90s (Sumitomo epoxy production, that stuff was used for chip packaging) and while the fire didn’t hit RAM production directly, it did affect it the most (CPUs used ceramic packaging back then) as far as personal computer components were concerned.

            • Wirko
            • 4 years ago

            That was a perfectly well-engineered single point of failure, which I’ll always remember because I bought four megabytes for the price of eight at the time.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 4 years ago

          Lol “if memory serves”

          Unintentionally humorous?

            • chuckula
            • 4 years ago

            Who said it was _un_intentional?

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      Memory guys are only making money on enterprise-tier memory. It is only the mainstream-tier stuff that has razor-thin margins.

      The problem is there is still a lack of mainstream demand for DIMMs and memory vendors still have contracts to satisfy system OEM vendors so they can’t really cut back on production volume. People aren’t buying new systems en mass and DDR4 is only support on most recent platforms. AMD hasn’t even jump onto the wagon yet. DIMMs aren’t exactly the most labor or resource intensive computer component to manufacture.

      The result is that you have now have unbuffered DDR4 at bargain basement prices. It is kinda scary that you can pick-up 16GiB or 32GiB for under $199 USD. It wasn’t that long ago that such capacities with DDR3 used to cost an arm and leg.

        • divide_by_zero
        • 4 years ago

        “Memory guys are only making money on enterprise-tier memory. It is only the mainstream-tier stuff that has razor-thin margins.”

        Source? Not trying to troll; legitimately curious. If this were the case, how have retail prices of memory modules been dropping so significantly recently? If the margins were already razor-thin, how was there so much room for massive price reductions given the mature process tech on which the DRAMs are being built?

          • yuhong
          • 4 years ago

          DRAM spot prices depends on supply and demand, and there are sites like DRAMeXchange that tracks these prices.

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