LPDDR5X Opening New Markets For Low-Power DRAMs

From gaming consoles to network switches, higher data rates are enabling low-power memory to expand beyond its traditional spaces.


Low-power DDR SDRAM has been one of the most widely used memories in the semiconductor market. This blog post talks about the evolutions of LPDDR DRAMs leading to the latest published standard of LPDDR5/5X. We also look at some of the traditional markets for LPDDR devices and how LPDDR5X is opening new specialized markets for the LPDDR DRAMs.

History of LPDDR devices

The first LPDDR standard, also referred to as LPDDR1, was based on the DDR SDRAM or DDR1 that was released in 2000. The main change was lowering the power of LPDDR1 usages vs. DDR1 due to the reduction in input voltage from 2.5 to 1.8V.  LPDDR2 was the first major type of low-power DDR SDRAM that was introduced in 2009 and had an optional SDRAM or non-volatile memory type. LPDDR2 was closely followed by LPDDR3, which was quite similar in architecture to the LPDDR2 SDRAM. LPDDR4 was a dual channel DRAM device, the standard for which was first published in 2014 and was followed by an optional single channel LPDDR4X device.

The latest official generation of low-power DDR SDRAM memory is LPDDR5, the standard for which was first published in 2019 and has since been extended to include additional higher speed grade LPDDR devices that are categorized as LPDDR5X. LPDDR5X can support data rates of up to 8533 Mega Transfers per second (MTps).

Traditional LPDDR market

LPDDR devices are an ideal fit for a number of market segments where low-power, low-determinist latency, and high bandwidth is a requirement. Some of these are:

  • Mobile phones and tablets: A majority of mobile phones and tablets rely on LPDDR DRAMs for the RAM, especially the latest generation of flagship phones.
  • IoT and smart home devices: This is an ever-expanding market segment where a variety of devices/sensors communicate with the cloud and each other to give systems/users control over a number of tasks remotely.
  • Client laptops: While traditionally client computers have used PC-DDR for the RAM needs, high-end laptops use LPDDR to get the power-saving needed to achieve this. Some of the latest generation of Windows and Macintosh laptops use LPDDR5 as the main computer RAM memory.
  • Automotive: Automotive applications require a memory device to meet several constraints to be considered viable. Some of these are that the memory:
    • Can operate at a limited power budget
    • Are reliable with little bit error rate
    • Have a long support life that can be a decade or more

    LPDDR devices fit these requirements perfectly and have been used for automotive applications much more than any other types of DRAM.

  • Virtual reality devices: This is a relatively new type of market segment for LPDDR devices that has been getting increasing attention from several players. Metaverse applications are one good representative use of this market segment, which has been gaining popularity in recent years.

New and emerging markets

  • Gaming consoles: Advances in gaming have put both RAM needs and bandwidth as critical requirements that need to be met. Another trend in recent gaming consoles is having the option to make the console work as a handheld, making power consumption an important requirement. This makes LPDDR5/LPDDR5X the most widely used DRAMs in the latest generation of gaming consoles.
  • Robotics: Many companies are offering solutions to cater to this increasing market that can help with a range of solutions, be it household work, industrial/manufacturing applications, healthcare automation, or even in the defense field. LPDDR5/LPDDR5X are proving to be the right fit for this segment with its high bandwidth, small form factor, and low-power consumption.
  • Workstations: Higher end workstations and servers are increasingly relying on the latest low-power DDR DRAMs like LPDDR5 to get higher performance while keeping a lower power budget and costs within a reasonable multiple of DDR-based workstations. Low Power Compression Attached Memory Module (LPCAMM) is a solution that addresses the compatibility challenges and helps with this transition.
  • Routers and network switches: Routers typically use DRAM memory to store routing tables, data packets, etc. Traditionally, routers and network switches have relied on PCDDR DRAMs for their need. However, some of the latest generation of routers and network switches are using LPDDR5X due to the lower latency it offers vs. the PCDDR memories, thus improving performance.
  • Data center applications: Power budget is increasingly being looked at as a problem that needs to be tackled for data centers. Power consumption by DDR DRAM memories/other components and the need to manage generated heat to keep chips operating at optimal efficiency is driving data center designers to look for lower power options. LPDDR5X is emerging as a promising solution for this market segment.

Given all these market trends, LPDDR5X is emerging as one of the most widely used LPDDR DRAM to date.

Cadence VIPs offers a compressive memory subsystem solution that includes memory models for LPDDR5 and LPDDR5X, DFI Memory Controller/PHY VIPs, and a system VIP compliant to JEDEC spec-defined LPDDR5/LPDDR5X feature set, along with the latest DFI specification. More information on Cadence LPDDR5/LPDDR5X VIP is available at Cadence VIP Memory Models Website.

Leave a Reply

(Note: This name will be displayed publicly)