Samsung first to market with 10-nanometer DRAM

The memory is 30 percent faster and uses 20 percent less power.

Intel may have delayed its 10-nanometer CPUs, but all systems are go for Samsung's 10-nanometer-class DRAM chips. The company is now mass producing the first DDR4 chips using the tech in 8Gb sizes, ahead of competitors SK Hynix and Micron.It will produce SIMM modules this year varying from 4GB for laptops up to 128GB for enterprise servers. Samsung also promised to reveal 10-nanometer mobile DRAM "in the near future."

The company released 10-nanometer NAND flash for SSD's and other storage products last year, but shrinking DRAM to that size is tougher. That's because volatile memory requires a capacitor to go with the transistor, meaning all the components have to be smaller. The difficulty is further multiplied because it has to "stack very narrow cylinder-shaped capacitors that store large electric charges, on top of a few dozen nanometer-wide transistors, creating more than eight billion cells," Samsung says.

To build them, it improved its quadruple patterning technology (first used for its NAND flash), where multiple lithographic exposures are taken to increase the resolution of chip features. The result is a chip that's 30 percent faster and 20 percent more power-efficient than Samsung's last-gen 20-nanometer RAM. The RAM will likely arrive in laptops first, but PC builders should be able to buy modules based on the tech before the end of the year.