Initially considered a niche pursuit for early adopters, 5G is now being used by more everyday consumers who appreciate the benefits it delivers to them. The number of 5G mobile subscriptions worldwide is forecast to exceed 2.7 billion by 2025 and as such, Samsung expects to see an increase in high and mid-range 5G handsets. The company’s forecast data points towards expansion in these smartphone classes taking place this year and next, when compared with 2020.
Gaining this level of critical mass will require 5G capabilities in a broad range of devices – not just flagships. As such, memory solutions will have to follow suit in order to give a fast, next-generation experience to all who require it. The industry needs to develop high density memory solutions that reflect market demands, user expectations and operating system requirements.
Looking at the demand for DRAM and NAND in smartphones, forecasts from Samsung point to an increase here too, particularly at the highest densities. Smartphones with 8-12 GB DRAM are increasing, and will continue to do so for the remainder of 2021. Demand for 12 GB smartphones in particular was minute in 2019. A similar trend can be seen with 128-512 GB NAND. Within this higher range, we’re likely to see growth continuing this year and next. And with increasing demand for high end memory in small, yet powerful devices, comes new levels of innovation.
5G technology doesn’t just require incremental improvements, it calls for completely new functionality that wasn’t possible before. It therefore needs bigger jumps in the semiconductor technology capability so that devices can be connected to each other in new ways, with high data speeds, low latency and better availability.
Doubling up on performance
A transformative memory technology used in smartphones is UFS3.1 with LPDDR5. There’s been an increase in high-end products using UFS3.1 with LPDDR5 over the past year, and mid-range products are also using it increasingly too. UFS3.1 with LPDDR5 is a leading uMCP solution, which combines a mobile DRAM and NAND into a single package. Increased implementation of this generation of uMCP among mid-tier smartphones is important because of what it represents in terms of performance improvements.
The performance of USF3.1 and LPDDR5, which are contained within this generation of uMCP, show an increase when compared with previous generations. The sixth generation V-NAND 256 GB UFS3.1 shows a 100% improvement leap, going from 12Gbps in UFS 2.2 to 24Gbps now. The 10nm-class 12Gb LPDDR5 delivers a data rate of 6.4Gbps - approximately 50% faster than the LPDDR4X, 4.2Gbps mobile memory in today’s flagship smartphones. The enhancements within the LPDDR5 uMCP are clear and as such, benchmark score improvement when compared with the last generation.