Samsung begins mass producing first 20nm 4GB LPDDR2 8gigabit RAM for mobile devices



Samsung’s taken it upon themselves to get the train rolling on 20nm 4GB RAM chips for mobile devices. The South Korean company’s silicon division has announced that they are the first to begin mass producing a new LPDDR2 configuration of 8gigabit RAM in quantities of 4GB. The highest amount of RAM we typically see in consumer smartphones and tablets is 3GB, and for good reason — it hasn’t yet been practical to take advantage of much more.

But with the advent of Android 5.0 Lollipop comes the advent of 64-bit mobile computing. Many 64-bit mobile chipsets already exist to take advantage of the increased memory, though the other big part of this delicate dance — the RAM — is only just now making its way to the ballroom.

More important than RAM capacity, though, the 8gigabit bandwidth will allow devices to record video in Ultra HD resolutions, and take continuous photos in resolutions higher than 20 megapixels with no effort. Samsung says the RAM is even faster than some that you’d find in consumer computers while using substantially less power, and if that’s the case then we couldn’t be any happier as mobile devices don’t ask for much juice to do their bidding at all.

samsung logo phan

The only problem in this bit of wonderful news? Wondering how long it will take for 4GB of RAM to become standard. Most smartphones and tablets still only utilize 2GB of RAM or less, with only a select few opting to stretch to 3GB. Even Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S5 used just 2GB, though the company has made it a theme of late to put 3GB into their second high-end option, the Samsung Galaxy Note.

There could be a reason for lack of adoption, and that’s scale of production. Samsung likely spends most of its production time on 30nm 2GB configurations as that is likely in the highest demand from other OEMs.

That said, Samsung also announced that they have plans to “greatly increase” production of the 20nm RAM sets in 2015, which not only helps to meet increasing demand but could also drive the cost of the chips down. Should that happen, well, you can expect companies to put more than 2GB of RAM in a lot more phones starting at some point next year.

[via Samsung]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Looking forward to the extra speed and power savings.

  2. Samsung needs to improve on touchwiz optimization

  3. Touchwiz is fine on the S5 and Note4, so they actually improved it a lot.

  4. Note 5, too early to think about that.

  5. Can’t wait for my note 5!

  6. This is unnecessary. Android phones haven’t even made good use of 3 GB of RAM yet. I think these OEMs could stand to improve how they optimize the hard before they worry about adding more RAM. There is no reason that these Android phones should have three times as much RAM as the iPhone 6 and still lose out in speed tests.

    1. I agree! My Note2 (2012) still doesn’t max out it’s RAM (2 GB). Why do we need 4GB? I call it a marketing scam.

      1. More RAM is never a marketing scam.

        Well, up to a point anyway. But 4GB is definitely not that point. Prepare for the future, use this to drive down future RAM prices and when the higher amounts of RAM become necessary (and they will) everything will be golden already.

        1. I see what you are saying. Honestly though, how much RAM do our current mobile devices need to be future proof for 2 years at least? If my Note 2 still can’t use close to all its RAM after being over 2 years old and seeing two OS upgrades, I just have a hard time seeing why we need 4GB even 5 years from now. Heck, just today it was running Knights of the Old Republic without a hitch!

          1. 4GB is sufficient for current needs. Don’t forget that the greater the amount of RAM on the device, the better the textures in games can look among other things.

            Of course, don’t forget that KoTR is 11 years old now. It is not really a game that takes a great deal of power, or RAM, to run.

            Don’t forget that people said the same things about RAM with PC’s, so when an OS that needed more RAM to function well (Vista) came out… people ended up hating the OS because they could not run it well.

    2. Galaxy Note 4 does. Just look at its S-Pen software and all of its features additional to those on most smartphones.

      1. I don’t think so. Samsung is just bad at optimizing its phones. The Surface Pro 1 and 2 have 4 GB memory. There is no way a mobile phone needs that much. Even overloaded Samsung phones.

        1. I would vastly prefer to stay ahead of the RAM curve on mobile devices rather than behind it, like what happened on PC’s for quite some time.

          “Too much” RAM is infinitely preferable to too little.

          1. I don’t necessarily disagree with this. My problem is that Android OEMs seem to be in a place where they kinda just throw updated tech at their phones. I’d like to see some of these OEMs actually try to maximize the capabilities of current tech. There is a problem when the iPhone 6 with 1 gig of RAM can outperform some of the 3 gig Android devices when it comes to multitasking. I get that some of that is just the difference between Android and iOS, but still, I’m betting they can simply do a better job with some things particularly their skins. If they do that, they’ll probably see even better returns than simply increasing RAM and processing power.

          2. I am unaware of any phones with 3GB of RAM that the iPhone 6/6S outperforms in multitasking. Kindly link to these tests?

            Of course, that might have to do with how iOS “multitasks” (if you can call it that). It does not multitask like Windows or OSX does. Android is closer, but still not identical.

            There is also the difference in the base OS. iOS is designed around their hardware because they make both of them. Android, however, is simply an OS that OEM’s take and build drivers for (and some other things) for their hardware. The OS is not designed around the hardware. Android OEM’s don’t have that same luxury that Apple does, there are things they cannot modify and remain able to use Google Services on their devices.

          3. Granted none of these are the most scientific of tests, but I think they are good enough for this level of discussion.


            In that link, the iPhone 6 clearly is able to open and run apps faster than the G3. Now I understand simply opening apps doesn’t have much to do with RAM. Still as more and more programs are opened and are running in the background, you’d think the device with more RAM should start to outperform the other. Now correct me if I’m wrong but from a specs standpoint the G3 should beat the i6 in both in CPU and RAM, yet the i6 is clearly faster.


            There is the i6+ vs the Note 4. In the end the Note 4 wins, but the important thing to note is that coming out of the first lap, the Note 4 has a 10 second lead. It only ended up beating the i6+ by 3 seconds meaning that the i6+ was 7 seconds faster on the lap where they were reopening the apps. That’s the lap where the extra RAM should have really made a difference, yet it didn’t.

            Now I get that some of this is simply on Android and the OEMs hands are tied, but I don’t believe nothing can be done. After all, we often see Android phones with practically the same specs from different OEMs having notably different performances. That means it’s not just an Android issue. What the OEMs are doing matters too, and therefore there are things they can do to better optimize their phones.

          4. That doesn’t show any multitasking because iOS doesn’t multitask. Anything not in the foreground gets pretty much suspended except for maybe some minor processes. They consume little, if any, RAM. Android does not function in the same way.

            Neither of these tests show anything to support your claim at all. The extra RAM does benefit Android but, well, especially when you watch the end of the LG3 video you notice the downside to suspending the processes on iOS. The more intensive apps, like the games, take much longer to come back into full working order.

            Android can be more optimized, sure. All OS’s can be. Lollipop is a good step forward for that and improved utilization of existing resources, especially RAM, can greatly improve real world performance. Which, clearly, Android does a better job of utilizing RAM and background processes.

            I mean, in Android I can play a game, hit the home button and go do other things for a week or two, re-open the game and be exactly where I was like I never stopped playing… no loading necessary. Something iOS cannot do, it has to reload things.

          5. I’m not saying that iOS is a better multitasker. I’m only saying that given the clear spec advantage most Android phones have over the iPhones, there really should be no competition. Also, you can clearly see that the iPhone was reopening some apps much faster than the Android phones were in some cases. So its a bit disingenuous to act like Android phones always open apps again faster. Still, all I’m saying is that I’d much rather the OEMs do a better job of optimizing the OS rather than just throw updated tech at the problem. That said, you’re right Lollipop is supposed to be a step in the right direction. So we’ll see when it more phones are dropped with it loaded out of the box.

          6. An OS designed for the hardware will always outperform, within reason, an OS designed to work on almost anything. That is just how things work.

            I also did not say it always re-opened apps slower, I said the difference in re-opening becomes extremely noticeable with more intensive apps like games. Smaller ones will come back at essentially the same speed, give or take a smidgen.

            The OEM’s can only optimize so much of the core OS. Which is to say, very little. The best they can do is make better drivers for their hardware… which, well, none of the regular OEM’s are very good at. Despite so much practice. Well, that and stop using such resource intensive modifications to the OS. Whole lot of fingers to point in that respect.

            Of course, it is cheaper and far faster to simply throw more power at the problem rather than spend the possibly very significant man hours at the problem. As long as Google continues to optimize the core OS as best they can to run on anything and the OEM’s continue cutting down on their heavy mods… I think things will come along very nicely.

            I still say that getting a stable 4GB or so of RAM for all middle to high end Android devices would allow Google to start planning and optimizing for things like that.

            Can be difficult to optimize for performance while still having to keep dragging along the past and the low end… as Microsoft learned over the last decade.

          7. I get what you’re saying and believe you’re right for the most part, but I think the OEMs have more freedom than you’re implying. After all there is pretty wide variation in the performances of similarly specced phones so that means there are things the OEMs do that substantially affect phone performance and those things can be improved upon.

          8. Well, they don’t have a lot of freedom in the core of the OS, but they can change quite a bit. Touchwiz, for example, delves very deeply into aspects of the OS.

            Drivers do have a lot to do with performance. You can find some instances of phones that have an internal identical twin brother but you can’t simply install a ROM from one onto the other and have it work properly. (Weird, right?)

            Google and Qualcomm need to do something and build in the drivers for the SoC’s or something, rather than relying on the OEM’s to properly implement them.

          9. Yeah, you’re probably right. It probably is more of a Google issue than I’m making it.

          10. Hard to say, not like the OEM’s or Google are talking about it.

            Oh well, Android has continually gotten faster and faster over time. Not a bad job for a company who had previously never worked on an OS before it.

          11. Agreed. Kinda silly to even be making this argument given how much I like Android. Just a little case of that “Never Enough” syndrome. lol

          12. More of a discussion than an argument, heh.

            I really enjoy Android. I am very happy with Lollipop, it is very slick and runs incredibly smoothly. The new animations make everything feel so much more fluid… well, they actually are, but the animations make it feel even more fluid.

            I would be interested in seeing the same iPhone 6 and G3 comparison once it gets upgraded to Lollipop. The new ART runtime should help a lot with the initial load times since it won’t have to recompile the app each time you open it.

    3. RAM doesn’t have quite the effect on speed you seem to think it does.

      Jumping from 8GB to 16GB of RAM on my PC won’t make it go faster, for example. It just allows me to have more programs running in memory at a time without having to worry about swapping to the slower storage mediums.

      Now, if you are constantly capping out on your RAM and swapping all the time, then yes, it will speed things up if you add more… because you won’t be touching your slower storage mediums all the time.

  7. What these OEMs really need to do is put insane amounts of storage in their flagship devices. Apple makes money up selling to a $1000 128GB model. Every other OEM needs to realize they don’t this ability. Having an insane amount of internal storage will get iPhone users to think twice before upgrading to a new iPhone. Same thing with tablets.

    1. I know it is not particularly useful, but man, I wish Samsung would use the same 3D V-NAND and controller they use in their 850 series SSD’s inside their next Note. Offer a 500GB model for $1,000, with read/write speeds in the same class as their SSD’s…

      That would be just awesome.

  8. Farewell mobile battery, we hardly knew ye.

    1. Were you born yesterday, since when did having more ram kill battery life. Looks at my Note 4…

      1. No, I wasn’t born yesterday. I work in semiconductor R&D (that means I’m a designer) and know exactly what power goes where, when, how and why for chips like this. Glad you’re enjoying your Note 4. Pointless to argue with you. Happy holidays.

        1. Neat, I work at Samsung R&D as CTO…

          1. I happen to dine with the Samsung R&D staff in Korea quite often. You were never there. Contrary to your fantasy reality or your childish retort.

    2. Made on a smaller die and 64 bit registers it should be a lethal combination.

  9. You guys sure this isn’t LPDDR4 RAM? I mean, why would Samsung go backwards from LPDDR3? Also, every other site is claiming it’s LPDDR4.

    1. Exactly. And because 8 gigabits is 1GB they’re getting to 4 GB with a four chip package.

  10. lol, gtfoh everyone here would jump on it the first chance they get.

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