30
Dec
sam

Unlike a lot of Android OEMs, Samsung makes many of the components that go into devices in-house. Its chip powers not just Samsung devices, but a large chunk of all phones. Samsung's newest memory chips rely on new manufacturing tech that packs in a full gigabyte of RAM on a single die. That would make it economical to get a whopping 4GB of RAM in a phone or tablet.

Industry’s-First-8Gb-LPDDR4-Mobile-DRAM-02메인

The new chip is the first 8Gb low power double data rate 4 (LPDDR4) module – the low-power variant of RAM is used in phones and tablets where battery power is at a premium. Four of these chips together (remember 8 bits to the byte) makes for a 4GB package. Samsung's last generation LPDDR3 DRAM modules were only 4 and 6Gb in size. These new chips are based on a 20nm process technology with the components packed close together for higher memory capacity. Samsung claims that makes it the highest density RAM in production at this time, and that the data rates will be twice that of the LPDDR3 DRAM powering most current devices while using 40% less energy. 

All Android devices in production right now are running on 32-bit ARM processing cores, which limits the amount of addressable memory space to 4GB. To take advantage of more than 4GB of total memory, a phone needs a 64-bit chip. After Apple announced the iPhone 5S with a 64-bit processor, several manufacturers tripped over each other to say they planned to release 64-bit phones in the future. Samsung was among them, and building 4GB of RAM into a device would bring the company right up to the wall – the first Exynos chips with ARMv8 64-bit support might be just around the corner. The 8Gb chips are going to be available soon.

[Samsung]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • larry9

    Funny - they forgot to mention this product in "Apple Insider".

    • Sean Lumly

      If Apple were first to market with a product containing this chip, Samsung (developer of said chip) would likely be condemned as "copying them" by releasing it in their later phone.

      It would also be considered a good, industry leading development -- remember that ultra-useful 64-bit A7 chip? However that Samsung created this meaningful innovation, people complain about the uselessness of this "spec race".

      Samsung suffers from a PR problem, nothing more.

  • sourabh sekhar

    "while using 40% less energy", this is the only thing that excites me.I wish OEMs stop this spec race and improve the battery life on their phones.We dont have 1080p displays on all phones and there are rumors that samsung will "throw" a 2K display into the S5

    • ssj4Gogeta

      A human with 20/20 vision can distinguish objects separated by a one arcminute (0.000290888209 radian) angle. At 440 ppi, he'd have to be at a distance of (1/440)/0.000290888209 inches = 7.81 inches or closer to see the pixels. I don't think we should spend battery and GPU power (and GPU die area) to go much beyond that, as I think there are better things to spend those resources on.

      • Al

        Tell that to the sheep

    • Al

      Yeah right. Your battery lasts too little because of the ram. Come on...

      • Cj

        I don't think he's directing the comment specifically to the energy that RAM uses, but our phones in general. If every component in the phone gradually uses less energy on an individual component level, the entire system gets a power saving boost.
        In this case the RAM is cutting down on the energy it uses, so this is what he highlights.

        • sourabh sekhar

          My thoughts exactly.

    • Sean Lumly

      I'm not sure when computer progress became a dirty word, and I don't quite understand this idea to stop progress for better battery life. If you have been paying attention to the trends, mobile components have been consistently tending to being more power efficient year-over-year. The fact that this memory is around 2x the performance of current chips and use significantly less memory are in-line with the trends and contradict that notion.

      For example, the consider common complaint of pixel count and battery life: the Galaxy Note 3 screen is almost as efficient as the iPhone 5 screen normalized to 5" despite pushing nearly 300% more pixels, but the power draw is hardly proportional to the number of pixels. Now a person could argue that the AP has the added burden of filling those pixels. This is a fair argument, however it ignores technologies like framebuffer compression, transaction-elimination, smart-composition, forward pixel kill, and larger chip caches, designed specifically to mitigate power draw with higher pixel counts. It also ignores that games (a very real use case) do not need to render at native screen res -- and many modern games do not but rather opt to draw at 720p or 1080p and scale up. Without taking these into consideration it is impossible to make a one-to-one comparison.

      I say more is better on the basis that technical progress enables new use cases.

      With a 4GB main memory, smartphones literally have as much memory as many laptops, and with Android's plethora of connectivity options (eg. miracast/hdmi, bt keyboard, mouse), there's little reason why a smartphone couldn't act as a low-end computer (eg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_--zcmqIyRI ). This is quite novel indeed, and would be impossible without these types of advances.

      Also 4GB memory with 2x the bandwidth is a boon for game devs. With amazing texture compression standards like ASTC with the capability to compress at less than 1bit per pixel, and having access to huge texture stores, next gen games should not only perform every bit as well as XBOX 360 and PS3, but should also look nicer thanks to much, much more generous asset stores. These advancements are why devs like DICE are able to (and reportedly) porting Battlefield 4 to mobile, and we may see other great games as well.

      • sourabh sekhar

        Alienware has laptops which can outrun many desktops, they can play games at high settings and do lots of other stuff,but their batteries die in like 3 hours. I fear that phones will become the same down the road.only Motorola seems to out of this spec race. Having great specs is nice,but not at the cost of battery life.

        • Sean Lumly

          I seriously doubt it.

          Battery life is a *core* concern for customers, and OEMs and component manufacturers like Samsung are in the business of making money, which means meeting customer expectations -- selling them products that have good battery life.

          Just because things go faster does not directly imply that they use more power. Next years APs may very well be built on 14nm node, which should improve speed and decrease power consumption at the same time. Additionally mobile CPUs and GPUs have tons of innovation in and around increased efficiency.

          • RTWright

            "while using 40% less energy." Is it me or did YOU miss this point? LESS, not MORE use of energy. That equates to longer battery life. And what? You think they can advance things through software only advancements? Sure, they could, to a point, but the HARDWARE needs to be there and needs updated badly. Android is far capable of much more than OEM's are taking advantage of. If anything, the OS is far ahead of the Hardware in its current state.

            Which is why I think smartphones have been changing so rapidly over the past 4 years. I love how you used a crappy Alienware to make your point because they are far far far cry from being the best built in the business. They spend too much time trying to make to make themselves look pretty and charge three times what they're really worth, both laptop and desktop. Though they're nowhere near as overpriced as Apple's products...

        • Theratchetnclank

          I get 6 hours of battery life on my alienware M17x R4.

        • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

          Alienware devices cover a niche market that operates in tradeoffs (i.e. High performance devices akin to gaming desktops without regard for power performance). It's why you'll never hear of Alienware debuting a power efficient gaming laptop. It's not that it's not feasible, it's just that the cost to produce such a device would be too high and wouldn't be as favorable to their core market.

          Smartphones, on the other hand, have taken off to become mainstream devices. As such, battery power will always be a crucial element when it comes to design and function. If anything, what you think would happen would become a niche market within smartphones themselves, but that's a moot point.

      • Sean Lumly

        Here's a fun thing you can do with huge memory and great texture compression: bake movie-grade lighting into game scenes! Here is an example of a 100% real-time scene:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSShJdH1RzY

        With a slightly better lightmap, a higher res outdoor map, motion blur, and subtle depth-of-field, a scene like this could pass for being photo real. Oh, and this could totally be rendered on mobile devices.

        Yes... We need more RAM and higher bandwidth.

      • mauswe

        Good post, i agree. And to say "stop making stuff faster and focus on battery" is ignorant - However i dont see the point in going beyond "retina" resolution displays. But the article was about memory so I wont go more OT. Happy new years!

        • Sean Lumly

          Happy new years to you too!

          For smartphones, this res seems strange at first, but there may be a subconscious preference towards higher res -- for example it would be hard to tell the difference between a 320ppi retina and a 450ppi Nexus 5, until you but them side-by-side, and the Nexus screen looks nicer (IMHO -- having done this just a week ago).

          The screens should also be more power efficient. The Note 3 screen is one of the best screens on the market thanks to new OLED materials, and is head-over-heels more efficient than the previous-gen Note 2 screen, despite 2x the pixels. It is also one of the most accurate screens on the market (when in 'accurate' mode)! source: displaymate ( http://displaymate.com/Galaxy_Note3_ShootOut_1.htm )

          In any case, these hi-res screens will be used in other devices, including VR (eg. Oculus Rift) that require these resolutions (and more) for a comfortable and believable experience. Without this type of innovation, these devices would suffer.

    • Hoggles

      Battery life is fine for the 99% of smartphone users who simply plug in their phones when they go to bed.

      You guys who want to get 2-3 days on a single charge, are just doing so as a type of contest.

      In the real world, the vast majority of people plug their phones in at night.

      Battery life on my S4 is exceptional. 5-6 hours of screen on time is all I need. More than most need.

      I'm all for specs and features increasing. Fun stuff!!

      • UtopiaNH

        They are generally being silly about expecting days of battery life, but not everyone has the same usage scenario. Having to plug in my phone after two hours of playing a game can be a little annoying (N5, playing Kingdom Rush for example).

        Also screen on time varies from person to person. I only expect a one day battery life really.

        • Leonardo Farage Freitas

          IMO I think that to increase battery life, OEMs would have to go beyond the chemical battery. Sure they can make the hardware be more energy efficient, but efficient usage can go so far. OEMs would have to achieve some sci-fi-like battery to go beyond the 1-2 days use of smartphones.

  • marius

    some innovate, others litigate

  • Imparus

    "32-bit ARM processing cores, which limits the amount of addressable memory space to 4GB"
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't ARM work like computer processor like Intel and AMD, if so, then it would be just a limit of 4gb to each core, so you would still be able to use all of it on 32-bit if it has dual core. Having said that they should still move up to 64 bit, so they have more registers and so on.

    • ssj4Gogeta

      Yes, Intel, AMD, and ARM processors are all computer processors, but it doesn't work like that in any of them. If the addressing system (bus, registers...) only has 32 bits to work with, it can only address 2^32 bytes. The physical address space is shared across cores.

      • Imparus

        I thought it was like that, but had a friend who told me, that 64bit wasn't necessary for a laptop with 8 GB RAM, because the limitation is on each core, damn him :-/

        • saratoga

          There's actually no 4GB limit on modern Android devices. The article is probably thinking of how Windows addresses memory in 32 bit mode.

          There are two limits on most arm devices running Android. 2GB which is the maximum any process can use and 1 TB which is the maximum amount of RAM any system can have. The number of processors does not change the maximum memory.

          • blumpkinator

            x86 systems had PAE, which allowed 64GB of system memory on a 32bit OS/CPU. However, PAE was never included in a desktop version of windows. I've seen plenty of 32bit windows servers that are using 8+ GB of ram; however with PAE no single process can use more than 3GB.

            I presume the 1TB limit on 32 bit arm chips is using PAE or similar.

          • saratoga

            XP Pro actually did support PAE (And it actually worked for a time with more then 4GB of ram if you carefully picked your hardware) but MS was eventually forced to patch it out in the mid 2000s because Nvidia and other hardware vendors did not support it.

            The arm version is called LPAE, and it is conceptually similar. However PAE on windows was somewhat problematic because Microsoft foolishly certified drivers without checking that they were able to understand physical addresses greater than 32 bits long. Hence most hardware simply bluescreened in PAE mode if you had more then 4GB of RAM. Fortunately ARM does not have this problem.

  • Chris Wortman

    While this is interesting and all, wake me up when the Galaxy s5 is reported to have 8gb+ of ram and 256GB of storage. All of these "breakthroughs" really aren't breakthroughs at all. We have had 32GB of space available since the Galaxy S1 was released, and probably before that. It had 1GB of ram in it and a snapdragon processor with a 720p 5mp camera. Fast forward like 3 years and nothing much has exactly changed. They over charge us with lackluster devices, it is to control the market and keep devices just above previous specs to make the sheep buy new phones.... baaa... In fact I jumped from my S1 to a brand new LG Nexus 5. It wasn't much of an improvement. Sure it was a little faster, but battery life is the same, space was the same, and only had twice the memory. Yes you read that right, it had TWICE the memory of a 3 YEAR OLD DEVICE! Stop accepting mediocrity! They have the ability to make a 64 bit arm chip you say? Release that with 8-16GB of ram and why not kick the party off with some actual storage, 256GB+ of nand. It is not that expensive. While you are at it, include some hefty batteries, like 6400 mAh... It would make a little thicker and about 250 grams heavier. That might sound like a lot, but it really isn't, it's like half a pound. I won't buy another device until this point because it seems like a pointless endeavor. People are paying premiums of upwards of 1000 dollars for what? It doesn't cost them as much as they say to make I guarantee it, because I spent 400 bucks on a phone that outpaces the Galaxy S4 which is priced at like 750 bucks... Price gouging, and a foot race for turtles...

    • Roar

      What? The i9000 only has 512mb of RAM, and to say the N5 is only slightly faster is the most ridiculous thing. I own both and really don't understand you at all!
      With regards to RAM 8-16GB is just stupid and 256GB Nand costs £150+ for standard Nand let alone low power. Futher a 6000mAh battery would be larger than our current phones by itself (which are already large enough).
      You quite simply seem a little insane.

      • Al

        He's exaggerating a bit but he's almost right. Also, you don't need 75% of the power your phone has. 64bit? 4gb? wtf? who needs that on a phone?

        • mustbepbs

          "Gamers"

        • Roar

          There's exaggerating and then there's claiming something as fact that's complete rubbish. The i9000 had 512mb of Ram and a 1Ghz snapdragon which at the time was pretty much the fastest thing around.
          We've progressed massively since then on both a hardware & software level and to claim otherwise is a disservice to pretty much everyone in the industry. If it was so easy to build such a killer phone don't you thing someone would have done it by now (and ruled the market with it)?
          Companies go where the demand is, they'd be stupid not to. The fact they've not seen the need to have 256GB+ etc. in a phone is as much a reflection on our demands than their willingness to go there.

        • http://www.gameosaur.com/ neoKushan

          Who needs 1GB on a phone? A few years ago, that was considered ludicrous. Our phones are taking over more and more of the duties of our PC's.

          It's important to remember that this is a chicken-and-egg scenario, nobody's going to write apps that take advantage of this hardware if the hardware doesn't exist. People always say the same things, "who needs this much power?!", they've been doing it since PC's became part of the average household yet every time, someone finds a way to make use of it.

          • natabbotts

            "640 k ought to be enough for anybody."

      • Sahil Chaturvedi

        Don't feed the troll.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft
    • http://thegumshoe.com/ Michael Crider

      Damn straight. I won't be satisfied until my phone can personally drive me to the liqour store and back, then beg my forgiveness for doing it all powered by three methane farts instead of one.

    • Sean Lumly

      The mobile space is advancing at an incredible rate. Performance has been more than doubling every year, and battery life is generally increasing as well. They feature processors that can actually be found in laptops and have cameras that are good enough to replace point-and-shoots for most people. They are capable of streaming wirelessly to the TV for large-screen gaming, and you can talk to them to ask a question or give them a command! And this is despite phones being thinner, lighter, and having larger screens.

      I'm not sure why you're complaining about the speed of progress, but a little perspective would be beneficial.

    • Gabernasher

      "In fact I jumped from my S1 to a brand new LG Nexus 5. It wasn't much of an improvement."
      Sure, I'll believe that. I have the Nexus 5, it's noticeably faster than the 4, which was substantially faster than my OG Droid, which was faster than my wife's Fascinate.

  • nzerf

    Good innovation, but RAM shouldn't be top priority.

    Priorities on current smartphones should be:
    1). Battery life. At least 2-3 days for normal usage.
    2). Storage. 320GB would be good enough.
    3). RAM, CPU, display, & others can come after that.

    • Sean Lumly

      Umm... The RAM uses 40% less power than current tech. I would say that power-consumption/battery-life is a top priority.

      It's like saying: "The top priority should be that the car goes faster, but improving the engine, transmission, etc should come after that..."

      • Ibrahim Yusuf

        The main reason for shrinking of the manufacturing process (ex. 32nm -> 20 nm) is higher clock rates. Lower power consumption is just a nice side effect

        • Sean Lumly

          That's silly.. Both lower power and/or higher clock rates are "side effects" or properties of a node shrink. They both play into SoC design decisions.

    • natabbotts

      Why do you need 2-3 days battery life?

      I can't imagine any scenarios where you can't charge while you sleep overnight. As long as your phone lasts the day, surely that's good enough?

      • Jens Knutson

        Maybe one doesn't "need" to be able to go more than a day without charging, but it'd be nice not to *have* to.

        Also, 2-3 days average use would probably work out to a full day of very heavy use, which would be pretty handy.

        • natabbotts

          I can agree with that :)

      • jesuguru

        Also environmentally, billions of phones which need to charge half as often can have a pretty big cumulative impact.

        • Jim_in_Denver

          Not really... power plants are on or off, you don't use more coal when you plug in your phone to charge it.

          • jesuguru

            So with batteries, along with light bulbs and appliances etc, power plants are on or off so forget about efficiency gains?

          • Jim_in_Denver

            You said charging half as often would have a better environmental impact. I said power plants run or don't run the efficiency of your gadget devices is irrelevant. Please try to stay on point.

        • Ashley Waugh

          unless i'm mistaken, charging a 10000 mah battery once uses exactly the same amount of energy as charging a 2500 mah battery 4 times...

          • jesuguru

            Obviously... Batteries aren't only getting bigger, phones are (slowly) getting more efficient. Charging a 3000 mah battery once a day uses exactly half the energy as charging a 3000 mah battery once every other day.

          • Ashley Waugh

            Yeah, but phones are also becoming more power-hungry at the same time they are becoming more efficient... That may sound like a contradiction, however think of it as in the fact we never used to have a camera, gps, colour screen etc etc on our phones... and all of these drain battery power. Who knows what we we will have on our phones in 5 years time... fingerprint and retina scanners, always-on voice recognition, location based alerts etc are all available today, however are not yet mainstream... we could get these and more.

    • larry9

      Well look back at the growth of the industry, more memory enabled more powerful apps, which needed faster cpus and bigger displays..'round and 'round it spiraled upward...there are many vital ingredients, takes many companies..

    • thartist

      lol @ 320GB!! :P

    • RTWright

      Right now I'd be happy with 64 to 128GB, 320 they'd charge you well over $2,000 for just the phone alone with that ( Given they love to stick it to the consumer when it comes to space to begin with ). 2 to 3 days battery life would also be nice, but you have to understand something. Even if they came out with a battery and got the tech specs for this to happen, it still all depends on YOU the consumer who's using the product. What I mean is simply this, it does matter what you install and how you use it as to rather or not you get that long of battery life no matter WHAT the OEMs put in it.

      As for your #3 line? Sorry but all of that affects battery life, every single bit of it, all of it. The RAM, CPU, Display ( Especially the Dislplay! ). All of this still needs a lot of advancement to take advantage of improvements. Improving these three items alone can seriously improve battery life. I have a Galaxy S3, it can run over a full day with moderate use, heavy use less than a day. Games? Lets take Dungeon Hunter 4, can drain it in a few hours easily. So we still have a long ways to go before you can depend on these as a heavy mobile gaming platform ( Something Smartphones were never intended or designed for ).

    • Hoggles

      Why would you ever (except some extreme situations...camping, trapped in the sewer) need 2-3 days of battery life? Silly. You're simply playing a silly contest or trying to prove something.

      99% of all smartphone users simply plug their phone in when they sleep. Problem solved.

      Pretty simple idea.... Plug in your phone when u sleep.

      Unless someone is on a meth trip...why would you need your phone uncharged for 3 days?

    • AOSPrevails

      RAM power cosumption is a big part of a phone's idle power draw because they always have to be powered.

    • Ashley Waugh

      1) I only want one day of battery life (which i currently get)
      2) I haven't managed to fill up even 16GB, let alone 320GB...

      If you want 2-3 days of usage, get a note3 with a zerolemon case, and if you want a bucketload of storage, buy a few microSD cards.

      problem solved.

  • Robert

    Sprint and T-Mobile, the nation’s 3rd and 4th largest wireless providers respectively, have shown interest in a merger that would allow the merged entity to compete more effectively with the two industry giants in Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and AT&T. The deal would create a company with close to 100 million subscribers, making it a serious challenger for AT&T and Verizon, both of which have over 100 million. http://bit.ly/1cgZmEb

    • Cj

      ...

  • Android Developer

    When will RRAM be available?
    It's not even common for PCs...

  • mgamerz

    "While using 40% less energy" is that at the same load as compared to previous? e.g. 10% of 2GB vs 10% of 4GB load, or are they saying 2GB of the old process vs 2GB of this new process? They don't say how they did the comparison.

  • fa

    What we really need are batteries which takes less time to recharge. And no/less heating while charging. Also these batteries should last at least a complete day of heavy use.