Samsung is ramping up its production of 8GB High Bandwidth Memory 2 (HBM2) in preparation for the increased demand from graphics card manufacturers AMD and NVIDIA. Both manufacturers are using the said memory to develop GPUs suitable for machine learning and artificial intelligence purposes. Samsung started the mass production of HBM2 back in June 2016, however, the initial yields from the foundry may not be high enough to fill up the orders made by GPU manufacturers due to the manufacturing flaws. More than a year after HBM2 mass production began, it is likely that these concerns are already addressed, which in turn allowed the manufacturer to ramp up its production of the aforementioned memory.
One of the key advantages of HBM2 compared to the more mainstream GDDR5 memory is its increased data transfer speeds. The former is designed to allow for sending and receiving 256 Gigabytes per second over to the GPU. This is eight times faster compared to GDDR5 memory, which only allows for transfer speeds of around 32GB per second. In order to achieve these massive data speeds, High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) is designed in a way that the DRAM dies are vertically stacked on top of each other. This die arrangement allows for the RAM to be located very close to the GPU, which makes the memory near indistinguishable from on-chip RAM through the help of a high-speed silicon interposer. The increased memory speeds are very useful for computing purposes like machine learning, which requires data to be moved in increased quantities very rapidly.
The South Korean tech giant's capacity to rapidly expand its HBM2 production is a testament to its technological advantage over its competitors. Samsung has managed to leapfrog the competition with its 3D NAND flash chips, as other manufacturers like Toshiba and SKHynix are experiencing difficulties producing the said memory type. Moreover, the company has spent billions of dollars to construct production facilities in different countries. The demand for its products, as well as its capacity to meet a substantial percentage of this demand, permitted Samsung to gain the dominant position not only as a memory manufacturer but also as a semiconductor company.