This morning Micron is announcing that they’ve kicked off production of their next-generation GDDR6 memory. This next step in production comes on the heels of their internal qualification, which was completed in late 2017, and arrives just in time to reach their H1’2018 mass production goal. With this announcement Micron has become the third memory and final vendor among the industry’s Big 3 to produce GDDR6, as the pieces continue to fall into place for GDDR6 to become the true successor to the now decade-old GDDR5.

For Micron’s product lineup they’re launching with 8Gbit chips at a few different speeds. For the graphics market – where the bulk of consumer interest in GDDR6 certainly lies – Micron is releasing chips rated for 12Gbps and 14Gbps, both of which operate at 1.35v. This is down from 1.5-1.6v for GDDR5, and is where a good chunk of GDDR6’s power consumption savings come from. Meanwhile a bit farther down the line Micron intends on releasing 16Gbps chips as well (and indeed already has part numbers for them).

Micron 8 Gb GDDR6 Memory Chips
Market Part Number Packaging Data Rate Bandwidth
per Chip
Voltage Organization
Graphics MT61K256M32JE-14:A GDDR6
180-ball
14 Gbps 56 GB/s 1.35 V 256Mx32
MT61K256M32JE-12:A 12 Gbps 48 GB/s 1.35 V
Networking MT61M256M32JE-12N(IT):A 12 Gbps 48 GB/s 1.25 V
MT61M256M32JE-10N(IT):A 10 Gbps 40 GB/s 1.25 V
Automotive MT61M256M32JE-12AAT:A 12 Gbps 48 GB/s 1.25 V
MT61M256M32JE-10AAT:A 10 Gbps 40 GB/s 1.25 V

Over time, GDDR6 will be superseding both GDDR5 and the lightly adopted GDDR5X for graphics customers. In the case of product lines moving from GDDR5, GDDR6 is a full generational jump over the previous memory, with even the slower 12Gbps chips offering a full 50% better bandwidth than the fastest GDDR5 bins. As for product lines that have been based around GDDR5X, there’s also a performance advantage, though not by as much; 14Gbps GDDR6 represents a 17% increase in bandwidth over the fastest GDDR5X SKUs available today.

Micron of course was the only memory vendor that ended up producing GDDR5X, and while not a failure for the company, the memory never did get any traction outside of NVIDIA’s faster Pascal products. GDDR6, by contrast, is on track to have a much more successful life, with multiple vendors supplying it and a lot more interest from customers outside the graphics space. Though this does mean that GDDR5X’s life is going to be cut somewhat short; Micron has confirmed that outside of any projects left in the development pipeline, they’re done with GDDR5X. So while the technology was initially slated to get to 16Gbps, it will be GDDR6 that actually gets them there, with Micron leveraging what they learned from GDDR5X in the process.

On which note, for those wondering what the biggest difference is between GDDR5X and GDDR6, it comes down to the number of channels. Whereas both GDDR5 and GDDR5X used a single 32bit channel per chip, GDDR6 instead uses a pair of 16bit channels. For graphics this doesn’t have much of an impact since GPUs already read and write to RAM in massive sequential parallelism, however it’s a more meaningful change for other markets. In this case the smaller memory channels will help with random access performance, especially compared to GDDR5X and its massive 64 byte access granularity.

Speaking of those non-graphics customers, for the automotive and networking markets Micron is offering the same 8Gbit capacity at speeds of 10 and 12 Gbps. In the case of these markets Micron is running their memory at a slightly lower voltage- down to 1.25v – offering even lower power consumption in trade for slightly lower data rates.

Finally, further out, Micron is already looking at faster and higher density memory options. The company already has 16Gb parts in their development pipeline (the GDDR6 spec allows for up to 32Gb), which will finally offer a long-awaited capacity bump over 8Gb GDDR5(X). As for faster speeds, besides their forthcoming 16Gbps products, the company is also playing with even faster speeds in their labs, where they’ve recently been able to get GDDR6 up to 20Gbps. Now it does go without saying that faster memory speeds are much more future looking – in part because there needs to be memory controllers capable of driving such fast memory – but Micron seems cautiously optimistic.

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  • Rudde - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    I did some searching around, apparently DDR4 and GDDR6 has similar latencies.

    Power consumption seems to be the only downside of using GDDR5/6 over DDR4.
    Reply
  • ajhix36 - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    What about 12Gb chips? I'd much rather see 12GB of VRAM on the next gpus. And it is a valid option of the GDDR6 spec. Reply
  • wizfactor - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    I know people are fixated more on the performance of these relatively expensive and super-high bandwidth memory, but the breakthrough that I'd like to see is dirt-cheap high-bandwidth memory for low-power devices.

    As someone who always looks forward to iGPU advancements (especially Raven Ridge in recent years), it always pains me to see these little but capable GPUs being so starved for memory bandwidth. It'd be amazing if humanity could invent an affordable DRAM technology that blew past DDR4 and finally solve the bandwidth bottleneck for embedded GPUs so that we could have more affordable, high-performance SOCs like Crystalwell or the Xbox One X's Scorpio Engine.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    I absolutely agree with you. We need better iGPUs and much faster memory for them. HBM may solve that problem to an extent, but as long as there's a market for large, expensive, and power-hungry dGPUs, there'll always be another 1080 or Vega 64 out there eager to gobble up 250W+ while lobbing a money-destroying torpedo at your account balance. However, as desktop PC markets continue to shrink and only show growth in SFF and gaming segments, I think you'll continue to see incremental iGPU gains that are never sufficient to satisfy in a largely 2-way stratified desktop retail space. Reply
  • IndianaKrom - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    No amount of memory bandwidth is going to make up for the power budget limitation of iGPUs, they simply cannot compete with dGPUs with similar efficiencies that are often many times larger/wider and have 2-3 times the total power budget than the whole iGPU/CPU have combined. Reply
  • wizfactor - Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - link

    I do agree with you that iGPUs have a power disadvantage that is impossible to overcome compared to discreet cards; it's more about balance. Just as it makes sense to buy a balanced CPU/GPU setup, it also makes sense that iGPUs come with memory and bandwidth that is appropriate for its maximum compute potential.

    The problem is that in the iGPU space, compute improvements are far outpacing SDRAM improvements. While the introduction of GDDR6 and HBM2 are in lockstep with GPUs when it comes to improvement rate, no such thing exists for embedded graphics outside of the expensive Crystalwell and the Xbox One eSRAM. For future AMD APUs and Intel Gen10 GPUs, DDR4 is a glass ceiling.

    What I want is cheap VRAM tech that is low power enough to ship with most SOCs with a 5W/15W/28W TDP. It doesn't have to be as fast or as big as GDDR5, just enough that the bottleneck in games is compute-bound instead of memory-bound.
    Reply
  • wizfactor - Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - link

    Could you imagine a Ryzen APU that came with 256MB/512MB of HBM2 for the GPU? That would be soooo lit! Reply
  • FullmetalTitan - Thursday, June 28, 2018 - link

    I regret to inform you that the word "lit" died earlier this week. Funeral will be July 7th. The legal case against Don Jr. is still pending in the murder of "lit". Reply
  • abhijidshailk - Monday, July 2, 2018 - link

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