Hiding in a corner of Samsung’s booth was one of their latest innovations. Samsung Semiconductor decided to show off some of their DDR4 memory chips, wafers, and sticks of memory at this year’s Intel IDF 2012. This little display of their latest memory technologies was the first time that Samsung publicly showed off their DDR4 chips and modules, not in a press release capacity.
The modules that they were showing off were 16GB modules populated by thirty six 30nm memory chips at 4 gigabits per chip. In addition to being extremely high density, these sticks are also very fast for being ‘server’ memory. These chips on these modules are specced to run at 2133 MHz, which could lead to some very impressive memory bandwidth numbers if Haswell-EX is quad-channel DDR4 as it is expected to be. DDR4 is expected to be available for testing in limited quantities in some Intel servers towards the tail end of 2013, but those systems will be extremely numbered.
The truth of the matter is that DDR4 will not really be available in servers until 2014 and probably won’t make its way to desktops or laptops until 2015 or later. This is purely because there aren’t any memory controllers capable of running DDR4 at this moment. Not to mention, in the memory industry it is standard practice to show the memory in public approximately two years before it will actually start being usable in systems for integration.
While no official standard has been announced yet by JEDEC it is clear that they are near the completion of the standard. DDR4 is also expected to run at 1.2v, which is once again lower than the current 1.5v of current generation DDR3 and much lower than older generation 1.65. The truth is that this standard could have a large effect on how Intel shapes their memory controller for Haswell-EX, however, that appears to have already been planned. While we don’t quite know Intel’s exact future plans for memory voltages, 1.2v doesn’t necessarily sound off the table.
The funny thing is that, currently, Intel’s highest officially supported memory clockspeed is only 1600 MHz, while many consumer motherboards advertise 2400 MHz capability. So, we can likely expect Intel to bump up the officially supported memory clocks to somewhere around 2133 in 2014. This is all so far out at this point that we can only speculate what Intel will do, but the memory manufacturers have done a good job of pushing memory standards and higher performance ahead of the platforms.
We hope to see more about DDR4 in the coming months and will keep you updated as we learn and see more from companies like Samsung, Micron and Hynix.