Last October we first heard about Micron working on GDDR5X, an intermediary memory technology which can approximately double the memory bandwidth on offer from GDDR5 without any major change to graphics card design and pricing. At the time we thought it could be an elegant solution for the mass market and mid-range as the high-end graphics cards transition to HBM(2). In January JEDEC published the GDDR5X Graphics Memory Standard. Now Micron has boldly claimed that "GDDR5X has arrived" in a blog post about the technology and its possibilities.
Micron has seen a number of rumours posted about its upcoming GDDR5X technology and wants to straighten things out. First of all, concerning timeframes, the firm says that the "GDDR5X program is in full swing and first components have already completed manufacturing". Mass production will start this summer.
Going beyond that information, looking at performance, Micron is happy to announce that early components testing has shown "components are performing at data rates of more than 13Gb/s". Seeing 'first silicon' performing at near to expected specs was said to be a "pleasant surprise". First generation GDDR5X 8Gb (1GB) density chips manufactured on a 20-nanometer process performing so well looks good for future speed tweaks/bumps. Kristopher Kido, Director of Micron's global Graphics Memory Business, said he thinks that 14Gbps and potentially beyond are possible with GDDR5X. Current GDDR5 memory tops out at about 7Gbps in practice but it was thought to be possible to push it to 8Gbps.
Sampling of the first GDDR5X chips will start in spring. With its usage allowing graphics card makers to upgrade existing designs with minimal cost/fuss, the flexibility of frame buffer sizes on offer (by using GDDR5X in either x16 or x32), and improved power consumption, it looks like a worthwhile improvement - but we will have to wait to see what graphics cards/ranges use it.