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LPDDR competition heats up for energy efficiency

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Memory semiconductor companies, including Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, as well as U.S. firm Micron, are intensifying their competition in the development of Low Power Double Data Rate (LPDDR) DRAM.

According to the semiconductor industry and the Ministry of Science and ICT, during the AI Seoul Summit, the ministerial session on “Promoting Sustainable AI Development” adopted the low-power semiconductor issue as an agenda item. The growing need to address the massive power consumption associated with AI development and operation is driving this focus.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently reported, “Considering that an average Google search requires 0.3 Wh and OpenAI’s ChatGPT consumes 2.9 Wh per request, with 9 billion searches performed daily, an additional 10 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity is needed annually.” The report added, “Looking at the demand based on AI servers expected to be sold, the AI industry could grow exponentially by 2026, consuming at least ten times the power demand of last year.”

The issue of low-power semiconductors has also become a significant topic at international conferences. The June 16 VLSI Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii, will discuss semiconductor technologies in the context of edge computing environments. The VLSI Symposium, one of the top three semiconductor conferences globally, gathers major semiconductor firms, related institutions, and universities to present outstanding papers and discuss next-generation semiconductor technologies.

Ahmad Bahai, CTO of Texas Instruments, will deliver a keynote on “Making Sense at the Edge” at the event. The recent shift of AI services to mobile and PC devices, in addition to the cloud, has led to a surge in power consumption, making this a critical topic of discussion.

The industry is fervently working on developing semiconductors that consume less power. Notably, development is accelerating on LPDDR and related products like Low Power Compression Attached Memory Module (LPCAMM), particularly suited for power-efficient implementation in mobile devices with limited battery capacity. The expansion of AI applications in servers and automotive applications is driving the increased use of LPDDR to reduce power consumption.

This month, Micron launched the Crucial LPCAM2. This product is a low-power specialized package module comprising several latest LPDDR products (LPDDR5X) and is a type of LPCAMM. LPCAMM was first introduced by Samsung Electronics last year and the market is expected to blossom this year. Micron emphasized that the new product reduces size by 64% while increasing power efficiency by up to 58% compared to existing modules.

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are accelerating the development of next-generation LPDDR. Kim Joo-sun, president of SK hynix’s AI Infrastructure, mentioned this month, “We are preparing innovative memories like LPDDR6,” expressing high expectations for the future.

The semiconductor industry expects LPDDR6 to be commercialized starting next year. Currently, the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) is finalizing the specifications for LPDDR6 within this year. Industry forecasts suggest that the bandwidth of LPDDR6 could be more than double that of the previous generation.

By: DocMemory
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