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Samsung starts producing GDDR6 RAM for next-gen graphics cards

You can start getting pumped about the next generation of graphics cards, as Samsung has announced that it’s building the first-ever 16-gigabit GDDR6 chips using its 10-nanometer class technology. The news isn’t a complete surprise, as Samsung previously said that GDDR6 was coming when it unveiled 8-gigabit DDR4 RAM chips last month and won a CES 2018 Innovation Award in November.

“Beginning with this early production of the industry’s first 16Gb GDDR6, we will offer a comprehensive graphics DRAM line-up, with the highest performance and densities, in a very timely manner,” said Samsung’s Senior VP Jinman Han. The company also did a minor tease, saying the chips “will play a critical role in early launches of next-generation graphics cards and systems.”

The voracious demand from bitcoin mining has pushed the GeForce GTX 1070 from a $380 suggested retail price to $890.

You may debate whether Samsung is behind TMSC with 7-nanometer tech, or if it’s 10-nanometer tech — now on its second generation — is inferior to what Intel (still) has in store for the future. However, at least Samsung’s foundries our stamping out the damn chips, which is all that really matters to consumers.

The GDDR6 chips will make things all kinds of better for gamers. First off, they offer double the speed of previous 8-gigabit GDDR5 RAM, with speeds up to 72 GB/s (that’s gigabytes). They also consume about 35 percent less energy, Samsung says, and offer a 30 percent manufacturing productivity gain, so that its assembly lines can build more chips in the same amount of time.

What that means to you, in theory, is better gaming performance, less power drain and cheaper graphics cards. That is, unless all the chips are gobbled up by bitcoin miners. The voracious demand from that industry has pushed a GeForce GTX 1070 from a $380 suggested retail price to $890, as Techspot noted. That’s killing gamers and folks who love to build rigs (and promoting pollution), but all of it is obviously good for Samsung’s profits.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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