THE MEMORY CONUNDRUM
After last year’s bonanza, with GDDR5X and HBM making it to market, and DDR4 cementing itself into Z170/B150 chipsets, little looks likely to change for memory. DDR4 will still hold true in the mainstream platforms, with AMD’s Summit Ridge and Kaby Lake supporting it. While, no doubt, frequencies will continue to rise, alongside a drop in the cost per GB, there’ll be little in the way of revolutionary change. Quadchannel will still be limited to HEDT variants, as Skylake-X retains the mammoth bandwidth standard, with Kaby Lake-X holding on to the dualchannel heritage.
HBM 2.0, on the other hand, is a real game changer. Over the last year, we’ve seen game developers take ever greater advantage of larger frame buffers and faster memory bandwidth, and with GDDR5 taking a backseat in terms of PCB space consumed versus memory transfer speeds, HBM filled that gap. Unfortunately, HBM 1.0 is still a flawed standard, only capable of supporting up to 4GB of VRAM at 512GB/s total bandwidth (each stack supporting 128GB/s). HBM 2.0 looks to remedy that situation, enabling 4GB of VRAM at 256GB/s per stack, allowing for a total of 16GB at a combined memory bandwidth of 1,024GB/s.