JEDEC has released the Low Power Double Data Rate 5, or LPDDR5 RAM standard. This latest standard, which is more formally identified as JESD209-5, promises faster data transfer rates and reduced power consumption compared to the first edition of LPDDR4 memory modules, whose mass production began more than four years ago.
LPDDR5 boasts a 50-percent faster input/output rates, and it also offers data transfer rates of 6400Mbps, which is twice faster than what LPDDR4 RAM has to offer, as it supports 3200Mbps speeds. These improvements help enhance the performance of devices like smartphones and tablets equipped with the latest memory standard, of course.
In addition to that, the increase in the memory throughput offered by LPDDR5 makes it a suitable solution for automobiles, since these applications require fast data transfer rates to quickly process information in fast-changing environments. Existing DDR5 solutions for desktop PCs show computational performance improvements of at least 10-percent, and it is possible that LPDDR5 solutions may offer similar performance enhancements.
Aside from increased memory throughput, another feature that makes LPDDR5 RAM suitable for smartphones and other mobile devices is the reduced power consumption of the memory chips. JEDEC made this feat possible by introducing two new operations, called Data-Copy and Write-X. These two commands help diminish power consumption by reducing data transmission from the memory chips to other parts of the device like the processor. Samsung previously estimated that LPDDR5 modules offer as much as 30-percent lower power consumption compared to RAM solutions based on the LPDDR4X standard.
Even though JEDEC only published the specifications of LPDDR5 recently, memory chip makers are already working to develop RAM solutions based on the new standard. Samsung has been developing LPDDR5-based chips since at least 2017, and the South Korean tech giant already unveiled the first LPDDR5 DRAM chip back in July 2018.
This product is manufactured using the 10nm process node technology, and it offers a capacity of 8GB and data transfer speeds of 6,400Mbps. Samsung also noted that the memory throughput of the DRAM chip represents a 50-percent improvement over the LPDDR4X solutions, which can only achieve transfer rates of up to 4,266Mbps. However, manufacturers may modify the maximum data speeds achieved by the DRAM solutions by adjusting the operating voltage of the chips.
Despite the development of LPDDR5 memory modules, it may take several months before the appearance of first smartphones equipped with the latest standard. Samsung plans to launch LPDDR5-based solutions for smartphones by 2020, and it may first appear inside the flagship smartphone offering of the South Korean tech giant. Another major semiconductor firm, Micron, also announced that it will release LPDDR5 RAM chips in 2020.
While performance improvements offered by LPDDR5 will mostly benefit automotive applications and other mission-critical use cases, smartphones will benefit from the reduced power consumption of LPDDR5 memory modules. The lower energy use of the memory chips will help manufacturers design smartphones with longer battery life or allot resources to other energy-intensive components like more powerful chipsets or 5G modems. Moreover, mobile applications that fully take advantage of 5G networks may also require faster data transfer rates to support the increased influx of data.