Maximum PC - - 2017 TECH PREVIEW -

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.

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