The GDDR3 memory standard has been on the market for 4.5 years now and it is likely that the technology will still be used for another 1.5 years, if not more, which will result in a rather unprecedented six years lifespan in the high-tech world. According to ATI, graphics products group of Advanced Micro Devices, the recently launched GDDR5 is likely to have a long and happy life too, unlike the GDDR4, which has not gained significant popularity since the introduction in mid-2006.
“We are still actively involved in the development of GDDR5 memory technology. The payoff of that investment is clear in that we were the first (and still the only) provider of GPUs that take advantage of this standard. GDDR5 is still early in its lifecycle, and we believe there is plenty of headroom available to continue improving its performance and power consumption before a new standard is required,” said David Cummings, director of product marketing for discrete desktop graphics at graphics products group of AMD, in an interview with X-bit labs.
The GDDR5 memory has a number of advantages over the GDDR3/4: it sports quarter data rate command clock, error detection protocol and so on. Besides, it is easier to route print-circuit boards for GDDR5 since the memory standard does not require traces that are equal in terms of length. Besides, since GDDR5 is produced using rather thin process technology, the new chips also consume less power compared to previous-gen devices.
Since GDDR5 delivers very high bandwidth per pin, the new memory specification makes very wide memory buses (e.g., 384-bit, 448-bit or 512-bit) rather obsolete, as mainstream 128-bit or 256-bit buses can provide enough bandwidth even for very high performance graphics processors, such as ATI Radeon HD 4870 (ATI RV770).
“The 512-bit ring bus interface used in the HD 2900 required a lot of room. Returning to a smaller memory interface allowed us to keep the overall size of the HD 4800 series down, an important requirement with more and more HTPC and SFF-based systems on the market,” said Mr. Cummings in the interview.
Currently GDDR5 memory is supported by Hynix Semiconductor, Qimonda and Samsung Electronics. At present, GDDR5 is used on high-performance graphics cards for desktop computers, but eventually the new standard will be used for mobile graphics accelerators and, perhaps, next-generation video-games consoles.