Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are planning to mass-produce GDDR7 DRAM, a next-generation DRAM for graphics cards, within the first half of this year. GDDR7 DRAM, which is mainly used in Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) -- a core of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) era -- is expected to continue South Korea’s dominance in the semiconductor industry following High Bandwidth Memory (HBM).

According to industry sources on Jan. 30, Samsung Electronics will present their 16 Gb, 37 Gbps GDDR7 DRAM at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in San Francisco, California, in the U.S. on Feb. 20. Samsung’s presentation is garnering attention due to its faster speed than the 32 Gbps GDDR7 DRAM first developed and revealed by the company in July last year, marking it the fastest in the world. This speed increase is attributed to the application of Pulse-Amplitude Modulation (PAM3) signal technology, which transmits 1.5 times more data in the same signal cycle compared to the previous Non-Return-to-Zero (NRZ) method. Samsung Electronics plans to focus on PAM3 in this conference.

TechRadar, an IT specialized media outlet, mentioned, “GDDR7 DRAM is expected to be equipped in Nvidia and AMD’s next-generation GPUs and launched by the end of this year.” This speed matches that of its American competitor, Micron. The DRAM industry is currently dominated by a triopoly of Samsung Electronics, SK hynix, and Micron.

SK hynix is also preparing a session to introduce their 16 Gb, 35.4 Gb/s GDDR7 memory at the same conference. Like Samsung, SK hynix has improved data processing speeds by applying the PAM3 signal method and aims to start mass production in the first half of this year. Unlike Samsung, which revealed its development last year, SK hynix will be presenting its development status for the first time at this conference.

GDDR is a DRAM specifically designed for graphics cards. While standard double data rate (DDR) RAM is processed by a DDR memory controller inside a PC’s Central Processing Unit (CPU), GDDR is processed by a GPU for graphics cards. Such graphic memory is gaining attention not only in high-graphic performance applications like workstations, PCs, laptops, and gaming consoles, but also in applications that require high-speed, large-capacity data processing like autonomous driving, deep learning, virtual reality, and the metaverse. In the era of AI, the shortage of GPU supply underlines the importance of GDDR DRAM along with HBM as a profitable segment in the semiconductor memory industry.

GDDR7 DRAM is a next-generation product yet to be standardized. DDR represents the current standard technology specification for DRAM, with higher operation speeds indicated by a higher generation number. Korean companies, which have established a dominant position in the market, are expected to further enhance their memory profitability by spearheading GDDR7 DRAM.