If you follow computers much you likely know of the graphics card shortage we’re in right now. Graphics cards like the GTX 1070 went from a launch price of around $350 to now fetching generally $700+ on Amazon, mostly from third-party sellers. Higher-end cards like the GTX 1080 and 1080Ti saw even larger price jumps, and are just as hard to come by. My GTX 1080 that I purchased back in January of 2017 for $650 is now worth over $1,000.
Nomad Base Station
Though Samsung’s most recent announcement won’t really help current-generation cards, it should help the next-generation in both affordability and speed. With 16Gb (gigabit) GDDR6 VRAM chips based on 10-nanometer technology, Samsung has shrunk the die size of current-generation VRAM modules by half.
The massive technology company, which produces many of the memory modules for graphics cards, also doubled the density of the new chips, from 8Gb to 16Gb. This means that future graphics cards should perform faster and be able to shrink in size, among many other things.
Graphics cards are always limited by size. If we could make them super large, we could have all the power and VRAM in the world. But, sadly, computer cases can only be so big and the graphics cards can only take up so much space and power. There’s also the issue of heat, as with more power you have more warmth generated and have more to disperse. Therefore, we have been at a limit for a bit on what speed can be implemented into graphics cards.
GDDR5, the last “big” revolution in graphics card memory, came out in 2008. That’s right, 10 years ago. This VRAM was built on a 54-nanometer process, compared to the new 10-nanometer process used in GDDR6. Starting with 1Gb chips, GDDR5 was a revolution back in 2008 and really made it possible for us to launch into the area that we’re in now with computing power on graphics cards.
In 2016, GDDR5X came on the scene with twice the speed of regular GDDR5, which was based on a 20-nanometer technology. Because this had shrunk the die size down and enabled larger sizes (8Gb, or 1GB [gigabyte]), graphics cards could become more powerful. Fast forward two years to today, and we now have Samsung announcing GDDR6 VRAM at sizes starting at 16Gb, which equates to 2GB per chip. If the same amount of chips are included on the NVIDIA GTX 1180 as were on the GTX 1080, that means the new graphics card could boast 16GB of VRAM, which is pure insanity.
What does this mean for gamers and media companies? Smaller graphics cards, denser (and powerful) VRAM, and lower prices. Graphics cards have come way down in price compared to what they used to be until cryptocurrency came around. But, due to the recent crashes on many of the cryptocurrency markets, we can only hope that graphics card pricing will return to normal soon.
NVIDIA normally announces new graphics cards around summer time, so we can only hope that the next-generation cards will sport GDDR6 for both power and price.