Samsung Electronics has announced the mass production of 12Gb (gigabit) Low power DDR4 (LPDDR4) memory chips for mobile devices, adding to the availability of the 6Gb chips found in 3GB (gigabyte) phones and tablets, and the 8Gb chips that are starting to appear in 4GB devices. The new chips will be built on 20nm process, and are claimed to carry significant performance increases over the previous generation of LPDDR4 chips that are currently on the market.
This will be a significant change, especially as mobile operating systems continue to mature as true 64-bit computing platforms, and high quality apps and games continue to demand more memory, for both general use and graphics. These new chips round out Samsung's line of 20nm DDR modules, and allow it to claim an industry lead on competitors in premium memory manufacturing.
The performance claims made by Samsung's press release are fairly incredible for what largely amounts to a density improvement, with the following statement claiming that:
Compared to the preceding 20nm-based 8Gb LPDDR4, the 12Gb version is more than 30 percent faster at 4,266 megabits per second (Mbps), and is twice as fast as DDR4 DRAM for PCs*, while consuming 20 percent less energy. In addition, manufacturing productivity of the 12Gb LPDDR4 has been raised more than 50 percent over that of 20nm-class** 8Gb LPDDR4, which will further fuel demand for higher memory capacity in flagship mobile devices.
The various asterisks are not explained by Samsung PR, but the "twice as fast" claim is clearly aimed at the base JEDEC frequency and timing numbers, and it should be noted that these numbers are comparing memory chips, not fully outfitted DIMMs with multiple chips operating in parallel. The more interesting number is the productivity claims, which should allow for much cheaper and smaller designs using 3GB of RAM, which seems to be the current sweet spot for modern devices.
Samsung also expects that with larger memory chips available, the power and size benefits of LPDDR4 will expand application beyond mobile devices, and into the areas currently occupied by both DDR4 and LPDDR3, such as small PCs and low powered appliances.