What is HBM: High Bandwidth Memory


HBM or High Bandwidth Memory is the latest type of memory that’s going to destroy the dominance of GDDR which leads the industry for the past decade by giving an ultimate performance in video memory. GDDR5 was the most common type of video memory till the latest version of GDDR which is the GDDR6 and GDDR6x came to the market. But the HBM is the next big type or the version of video memory that’s rising up and making its way on the market. But what is HBM and How it differs from the typical GDDR type memory?

Users can get the basic idea about what it is HBM or High Bandwidth Memory as it’s already mentioned on the title itself but the technology they have used inside of this new piece of hardware is quite impressive. Moreover the High Bandwidth, it also needs less power when comparing to the previous models and less space on the PCB. It was achieved by stacking multiple dies one over another just like stacking up pancakes on a single plate.

HBM Architecture - What is HBM
HBM Architecture

Each one Die has 1024 bit memory bus and a bandwidth of 1028 Gigabytes per second and within one stack there are 4 dies which give 4096-bit memory bus and 5012 Gigabytes per second bandwidth which is insane at the first place. And also each package supports 4 Gigabytes of memory which means the users can get 16 Gigabytes of memory as there are four packages within one GPU.

Normally inside of a graphics card, DRAM chips are attached to the PCB directly around the GPU and you need to attach more and more chips to get more speed and the memory that you wish to take from the graphics card. This makes the job more complex to the developers and causes both money and time. By stacking one on another, the VRAM is directly attached to the GPU package which saves a lot of space on the PCB and gives more performance improvement with the newest design.

VRAM attached to the GPU
VRAM attached to the GPU

But this isn’t something that’s unbelievable as most of the high-end models by now has more than specs even with the GDDR type of memory. The HBM was introduced in the year 2015 and back then they are way more superior than the GDDR although it was featured in just a few numbers of GPUs manufactured by AMD. AMD Radeon R9 Fury, Radeon R9 Fury X, Radeon Pro Duo was the first models that get powered up with the HBM technology but with the introduction of HBM 2, the users can see way more improvements than the HBM first version.

The HBM 2 give twice more bandwidth and the total number of supported stacks were increased to 8. So each stack now supports 8GB memory and according to the math, this supports over 2 TB total bandwidth and 64GB memory. When comparing to the HBM first version, HBM 2 was far more advanced and powerful but does the users require this much performance to their computer?

In 2018, the extreme version of HBM, the HBM2E was announced and there’s no doubt that this version is definitely better than the older version. Increasing the maximum stack size to twelve and the maximum memory per stack up to 24 Gigabyte, the HBM2E supports a bandwidth more than 3.6 Terabytes and 288 Gigabytes of RAM when it performs from whole 12 stacks. Unfortunately, the HBM 2 doesn’t implement in any GPU yet but the users can hope this beast with the AMDs next high-end lineup as they are keenly waiting to stretch their power in the GPU industry

After knowing the basics about What is HBM, there’s always another question that pops up with it.

Is HBM Good For Gaming?

For gaming, buying an HBM graphics card is completely useless because most of the games doesn’t require that much higher VRAM. Having 8GB VRAM is more than enough for high-end gaming. If you wonder why, here’s a quick explanation.

When making a game, the developers optimize the game to a supported extend and even though your system has more performances than it requires at the maximum limits, the game doesn’t use a single bit more than it was designed to use. This theory is the same as all the other hardware performances as RAM, CPU as well. This won’t be a bigger issue if you have though why there are two limitations as minimum requirements and maximum requirements for each and every game. No matter how powerful your PC, the game will only use the maximum limits got after the optimization in the first place.

So if you are planning to buy a brand new graphics card with HBM, you’ll probably be going in the wrong way. And also these types of graphics cards are going to be more expensive than a normal graphics card. These HBM type of memories will be more effective when it’s used for more memory intensive stuff like 4K video editing, 3D modelling rather than gaming.

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