Elpida announces 2Gb GDDR5 chips

Japanese memory maker Elpida has just announced that it's finished the development of its first 2Gb GDDR5 chips, paving the way for consumer graphics cards loaded with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

The new chips are fabricated on a 50nm process and feature copper interconnects. Elpida says they have a data rate of 7Gb/sec, making the chips competitive with the 7Gb/sec GDDR5 chips already announced by companies such as Samsung and Hynix.

Most high-end graphics cards currently use 128MB chips, which means putting memory on the back of the PCB in cards with 2GB of RAM. However, the new 2Gb (256MB) chips could enable graphics card makers to get a whole 2GB of RAM on the front of the PCB, and even enable 4GB cards using the back.

Currently, 4GB configurations are only found on large and expensive dual-GPU graphics cards and workstation cards. However, the 2Gb chips could potentially enable companies to load up standard-sized graphics cards with 4GB.

This is perhaps overkill for gaming unless you're using multiple monitors, but Elpida says the chips have a lot of benefits in high-performance computing too. The company cites digital image processing, science and technology, video conversion and physical simulation as areas that could benefit.

The company points out that, "using 2Gb GDDR5 in these applications can double the frame buffer size of each GPU compared with 1Gb memory products." Either way, Elpida reckons there's going to be a big surge in demand for high-density GDDR5 memory in the near future.

Production of Elpida's current 1Gb GDDR5 chips is currently outsourced to Winbond in Taiwan, but Elpida says production of the 2Gb chips will be handled by its own semiconductor plant in Hiroshima. "Basing this production in Hiroshima," says the company, "enables Elpida to provide a more timely and flexible response to anticipated future growth in graphics DRAM demand."

Elpida isn't the first company to develop a 2Gb GDDR5 chip. In December last year, Hynix announced its first 2Gb GDDR5 chips, built on a 40nm process and boasting the same 7Gb/sec data rate. However, both Elpida and Hynix have a similar production schedule lined up for the 2Gb chips.

According to Elpida, samples of the chips will start shipping next month, with mass production expected later in the third quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Hynix says its own chips will enter mass production in the second half of this year.