In a surprising move, SK Hynix has announced its first memory chips based on the yet-unpublished GDDR6 standard. The new DRAM devices for video cards have capacity of 8 Gb and run at 16 Gbps per pin data rate, which is significantly higher than both standard GDDR5 and Micron's unique GDDR5X format. SK Hynix plans to produce its GDDR6 ICs in volume by early 2018.

GDDR5 memory has been used for top-of-the-range video cards for over seven years, since summer 2008 to present. Throughout its active lifespan, GDDR5 increased its data rate by over two times, from 3.6 Gbps to 9 Gbps, whereas its per chip capacities increased by 16 times from 512 Mb to 8 Gb. In fact, numerous high-end graphics cards, such as NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070, still rely on the GDDR5 technology, which is not going anywhere even after the launch of Micron's GDDR5X with up to 12 Gbps data rate per pin in 2016. As it appears, GDDR6 will be used for high-end graphics cards starting in 2018, just two years after the introduction of GDDR5X.

SK Hynix is not disclosing too many details about its GDDR6 chips, but they have revealed that the chips are 8 Gb devices with 16 Gbps data transfer rate, which in turn are being manufactured on SK Hynix's 21 nm process technology. The company is also stating that GDDR6 will have a 10% lower operating voltage than GDDR5, though they don't specify if that's relative to the low voltage (1.35 V), standard (1.5 V) or high frequency (1.55 V) version of GDDR5.

What is noteworthy is that SK Hynix does disclose some details about the first graphics cards to use its GDDR6 memory. As it appears, that adapter will have a 384-bit memory bus and will thus support memory bandwidth upwards of 768 GB/s. Given the number of chips required for a 384-bit memory sub-system, it is logical to assume that the card will carry 12 GB of memory. SK Hynix is not disclosing the name of its partner among GPU developers, but it is logical to assume that we are talking a high-end product that will replace an existing graphics card.

Unlike GDDR5X, GDDR6 is expected to be manufactured by all three major DRAM makers, and consequently should be available more widely. SK Hynix believes that GDDR6 will supplant both GDDR5 and GDDR5X relatively quickly. Nonetheless, keep in mind that while it took GDDR5 a relatively short amount of time to replace GDDR4 on high-end graphics cards in 2008 – 2009, it then took the memory standard years to replace GDDR3 on mainstream adapters.

Source: SK Hynix

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  • Frenetic Pony - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    Nah, Volta seems to be delayed till 2018, which isn't surprising. But the card is pretty much certainly a new high end Nvidia one. 384bit bus fits right in with their recent past offerings while AMD seems to have HBM2 to use for that category.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    What reason do you have to believe it will be delayed other than this GDDR6 information? That information can be explained without any Volta delay if NVIDIA uses GDDR6 for GV102 and not for GV104 and below, as ImSpartacus pointed out.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, May 1, 2017 - link

    Volta has always been 2018 for consumer. All production in 2017 is going into HPC.
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    That sounds like a good analysis to me, ImSpartacus. I can't imagine NVIDIA would delay consumer Volta 6 months to save what looks to me like 10 Watts or less (possibly along with some cost from using a wider bus, but if GDDR6 is more expensive than GDDR5X that's not necessarily the case). The GV102 cards could come out 6 months later without causing much of an issue. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to see GV104 in early Q4 instead of Q3.

    Who is mentioning GV102 and GV104, by the way?
  • ImSpartacus - Monday, May 1, 2017 - link

    WCCFTech compiled a rumor that listed some upcoming Volta chip codenames and also suggested that GV104 would arrive in Q3 2017 (no comment on GV102, etc).

    To keep up with the traditional pace of the new G@104 part matching the performance of the outgoing G@100/102 part, GV104 nerfs roughly 30-35% better performance than 1080, which uses 10 Gbps GDDR5X. 12 Gbps GDDR5X gets a 20% bump, which is close, maybe close enough with whatever architectural improvements come with Volta.

    Micron's 12 Gbps GDDR5X is already available today (used in Titan Xp), so it's also possible that they could have 13 Gbps stuff ready later in the year, enabling a 30% bump in bandwidth. That's probably not going to happen as it looks like everyone is sprinting to GDDR6 (letting GDDR5X stagnate), but who knows. GDDR5 got pushed to 9 Gbps retardedly late in it's lifetime.

    Either way, it looks like GV104 might arrive as soon as Q3 and it might not use GDDR6.
  • HomeworldFound - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    I love how quickly these companies have increased the amount of VRAM on graphics cards. It seems like it'll continue.
  • mdriftmeyer - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    So much for Nvidia's fandom waxing on about GDDR6 on the Volta. Or is Volta not coming until 2018?
  • Flunk - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    It's pretty likely that it won't come before 2018. Pascal hasn't even been out for a year yet.
  • haukionkannel - Monday, May 1, 2017 - link

    I am quite sure that Nvidia did say that there will not be new architecture this year. There is less and less reasons to bring new architectures in every year.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, May 1, 2017 - link

    2017 for HPC, 2018 for consumer.

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