RAM memory chips usually have a storage capacity that is a power of 2, that is, 2no bytes. However, it seems that this tradition could be completely broken in the coming years and manufacturers opt for capacities that do not follow such a standard. And it is that Micron, one of the largest memory manufacturers in the world, is already manufacturing 3 GB DDR5 chips and they are not the only brand that is doing it. Why aren’t we going to double the RAM in the future?
And we’re not just saying it, the other two major RAM memory brands, such as Samsung and SK Hynix, have already shown modules with 24 Gbits of capacity per memory chip or, in other words, 3 GB of storage. In other words, if we now have 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB modules, we would have 6 GB, 12 GB, 24 GB and 48 GB modules in total. Which is unusual due to the fact that memory used to double from time to time. Actually, Micron has been the last to join the party when it comes to building memory chips with such capacity.
Why aren’t we going to double the RAM in the future?
No, it is not due to any technical limitation caused by the proximity of the memory cells to each other, since the memory chips are several nodes behind the processors. For example, Samsung recently announced that it is manufacturing DDR5 memory chips using a 12nm process. Nor is it due to the fact of keeping the information inside the chips, rather the problem in that aspect is in the data transfer and not in the storage.
Then? Well, due to the fact that the different manufacturers want to cut costs, that is why they have decided on an increase of only 50%. The reason for this is that at the time of manufacturing the RAM we have reached the chip manufacturing nodes where the cost per mm2 it is no longer fixed and, therefore, even if it has more capacity, a memory chip under the same size is much more expensive. Obviously, this does not mean cheaper for us, the users, but for them.
And this is something that it will not only affect traditional RAM, but also video memory. Get ready to see the gossips on the internet, get leaked information about a future graphics card and completely screw it up in terms of bus size by continuing to think in powers of 2 in terms of capacity.
Is it good news or bad news?
Since we are expanding the capacity of RAM it is not bad news, having more is always welcome. What’s more, we are going to act as devil’s advocates and this has been designed so that people buy two RAM modules. If, for example, a program needs 32 GB, they buy 2 24 GB modules. Which for many will seem like an exaggeration, but let’s not forget that it is important to use the largest possible number of memory channels and many users without knowledge use computers with a single large memory module, and, therefore, in Single Channel.
On the other hand, this will force programs to better optimize the use of memory, so not doubling RAM from one generation to another is not bad news if this means that applications such as browsers end up adapting. In any case, we see it as not very viable since the system’s memory capacity exceeded good enough for a long time.