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Memory

GDDR6X: Memory Reimagined

By Bill Randolph - 2020-09-01

Every day, engineers across the globe are working to build and perfect the fastest systems possible to move data, create reality from data and create intelligence from data. These systems demand the fastest memory possible. Over time, these system demands have continually increased, but the rate of increase has exploded over the last few years. For decades, Micron has accepted the challenge to provide Ultra-Bandwidth Solutions that meet and exceed the memory industry’s requirements, most recently with GDDR5X. However, that was yesterday’s news. 2020 problems require next level thinking — something new, something shiny, something bold. GDDR6X. Memory Reimagined.

How is memory reimagined?

Let me provide some quick insights into the creation of the world’s fastest discrete memory.

Much of the story started back in 2006 when Micron experts began investigating the use of multi-level signaling to extend the bandwidth of the memory interface. Signal integrity experts shared these ideas across the Micron internal engineering teams. Together, they delivered proof of concept by implementing 4-level pulse amplitude modulation, or PAM4, on an LPDDR device. It was real, and it really worked!

The next step - confirm that PAM4 could easily be achieved without blowing the budget. Manufacturing the device was not the issue. Micron has smart engineers who excel in their fields. The challenge was making it manufacturable for high-volume consumer applications. In other words, managing system cost while still delivering the fastest discrete memory on the planet.  For more background on the innovation, I refer you to the technical brief on GDDR6X.

After convincing ourselves it was possible, we applied our technology to address a real-world opportunity. Our challenge was to demonstrate the concept, including proof points, to match what we could deliver with the requirements of the end application — consumer graphics. Engineers who understood the value of PAM4 accepted the concept and this idea resonated. Sometimes, the stars align just right. GDDR6X is the result of this innovation and collaboration. Good timing and hard work. To see more detail from the Micron fellows who made it happen, check out this video.

Where is GDDRX used?

GAMING: First and foremost, GDDRX is used in gaming. The dramatically increased memory bandwidth of GDDR6X creates a more convincing 3D render in game. Gamers want a real-life experience based on the highest resolution, maximum frame rates and instant rendering. Realism, brought to the masses, takes the gaming experience from good to great! Our first generation of GDDR6X enables data rates to achieve system performance of greater than 1TB/s. To see more on the overview of GDDR6X, check out the video.

Rendered image comparing GDDR6X with previous versions of GDDR memory

HPC: GDDRX is used in high-performance computing, characterized by highly parallel computations executing advanced application programs efficiently, reliably and as fast as possible. Scientific researchers, engineers and academic institutions rely on these supercomputers to solve complex problems.

Image of servers in a data center

Professional Visualization: High performance workstations are a key use case for GDDR6X. Industries like healthcare, professional video post processing, weather forecasting, financial simulations or oil and gas rely on workstations powered by high-end graphic card applications to quickly process large data sets.

Woman and man working on a brightly lit touch screen

AI: And finally, GDDR6X is used with artificial intelligence. To meet the ever-growing demands of these computing workloads, new ways of transferring more data at faster speeds is more critical than ever.

Rendering that says, "Richer. Smarter. AI"

GDDR6X is the story of tenacity, perseverance and collaboration among innovative thinkers working at several Micron sites globally. Coupled with customer focus and deep engagement with an industry partner, they were able to deliver a manufacturable innovation.

Bill Rndolph photo

Bill Randolph

Bill Randolph drives business development as a director in Micron’s global graphics memory business. His responsibilities include growing Micron’s partner base and focusing on Micron’s broad portfolio of high-speed memory solutions that serve the game console and high-end graphics market.

Bill has more than 10 years of experience at Micron and has held a variety of roles in both Ecosystem Enablement and Consumer/Graphics Business Development. He has worked in the DRAM industry since 1990, previously with Mitsubishi and Qimonda, in design, development center management and sales. He received his B.S. in electrical engineering from Florida State University and his M.S. in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.

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