According to JEDEC , the electronics industries association that standardizes engineering and development of semiconductor-based technologies, the density of RAM memory doubles every approximately four years, yet there is no established pattern for this such as Moore’s law for the density of transistors in processors. So what can we expect in the coming years?
Today it is common for our home PCs to have 8 GB or 16 GB RAM memory kits, but in reality until the introduction of DDR4 RAM in 2014 it was usual to have just half, between 4 and 8 GB of RAM. This means that the reality is very different from what the JEDEC says, since 7 years have passed since the introduction of DDR4, which is when 8 GB were normalized in home PCs, and in fact in the middle of 2021 is when the 16 GB are starting to be a standard now, but not before.
What is the pattern of increasing RAM memory density?
In fact, the development of the chips used in RAM memory has never stopped evolving, and we could say that their density in terms of capacity per square centimeter of surface has followed a linear development, without too many variations in recent years.
As you can see in the graph above (the one that interests us at the moment is the DRAM line, since MLC Flash is also included for example) the increase in density has been a straight line from the year 2000 to 2018 approximately, moment in which it has apparently stalled at 13 Gb (gigabits, not Gigabytes) per square centimeter.
The reality is that the increase in density of the RAM memory is not affected by any pattern, but rather by the needs of the market at all times. In other words, in 2013 high-end PCs had 16 GB of DDR3 RAM although the normal thing was to have between 4 and 8 GB, as in 2021 the 8 GB can be considered the minimum, while they are normalizing the 16 GB and without a doubt there are many users with quite powerful PCs that have 32 GB.
However, who needs to have 32GB of RAM today? Really, very few users will use such a large amount of memory, and only those with very high-end PCs that play everything to the maximum or professional or amateur users who use design programs, virtual machines or the like need that amount of memory.
So the answer to all this is that the capacity of the RAM memory is increasing as required by the market and not according to a marked pattern. Obviously, the 2 GB memory modules are totally out of date and in the last two years the 4 GB memory modules per module are also beginning to disappear, but that does not mean that much higher density modules have not existed for a long time (something else is that its price allows its inclusion in what we can consider “normal” in the consumer market), since in reality it has never stopped increasing.
The VRAM density is really skyrocketing
Precisely due to the needs of the market, what is soaring and especially with the latest generations of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards is VRAM, dedicated graphics memory. This is so because games are increasingly complex and support higher resolutions, which implies a greater need to be able to store temporary data in the memory of the graphics card itself for quick access to them instead of having to recalculate them every time. time you need to get hold of them.
However, even with regard to VRAM we are not seeing defined patterns either because, like RAM, the evolution of its density depends on the needs of the market. Today we have low-end graphics cards on the market with just 2 GB of VRAM, but we also have very high-end models with 24 GB, it all depends on the market segment for which they are oriented.
What is obvious is that in the gaming segment, which is the one that moves the highest volume of graphics cards, we have gone in a short time from having graphics of 4 and 8 GB at most to models that reached 11 GB in the last generation, but Now quantities of 10, 20 and even more GB of VRAM is what we see normal in the high range, and it is that as we have been saying throughout this article, it is what the market is now asking for because of (or thanks to) the resolutions each higher times that require textures that occupy more memory spaces.