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Graphics Memory Supply Improving, Just in Time for Ada and RDNA 3

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Micron said this week that sales of its graphics memory increased during its third fiscal quarter (which ended on June 2), which indicates that the company can meet the growing demand for its GDDR6 and GDDR6X DRAMs. This is good news ahead of the upcoming launches of Nvidia’s Ada Lovelace and AMD’s RDNA 3 lineups.

“In fiscal Q3, graphics revenue grew at a strong double-digit percentage rate sequentially and year over year, driven by the strength of Micron’s products and customer relationships,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, chief executive of Micron. “We announced volume shipments of our new 1z 16Gb GDDR6X in fiscal Q3, which features twice the capacity and up to 15% higher performance than the previous 1y generation.”

Increased sales of Micron’s GDDR6/GDDR6X memory can indicate several things. First, demand for graphics DRAM from console and graphics card makers is growing since the availability of console SoCs and graphics processors is increasing. Keep in mind that in Q2, manufacturers of game consoles are only beginning to gear up for Q3 production ramps in late Q3. So the influence of game consoles on sales of GDDR6 memory should not be too high, meaning that demand is mainly coming from makers of graphics boards and gaming notebooks.

Second, graphics card sales are increasing due to better availability of GPUs. Based on data from Jon Peddie Research, shipments of discrete graphics cards for desktops totaled 13.4 million units in Q1 2022, up from 11.77 million in Q1 2021. This clearly shows that companies like Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI can produce more boards than a year ago.

Third, increased production of GDDR6 and GDDR6X memory by Micron comes just in time as AMD is gearing up to introduce its Radeon RX 7000-series graphics cards based on the RDNA 3 architecture. In addition, Nvidia is preparing to launch its GeForce RTX 40-series boards powered by its Ada Lovelace architecture. With a better supply of graphics memory, we can at least hope that GDDR6/GDDR6X will not be a reason for the possible scarce availability of next-generation graphics cards.

However, increased availability of graphics DRAM is not the only good news that Micron shared. The manufacturer also indicated that supplies of power management ICs (PMICs) and voltage regulating modules (VRMs) for DDR5 memory sticks were improving.

“Increased availability of non-memory bill of materials will also improve our ability to ship DDR5-based modules,” said Mehrotra.

Last year Micron said that the short supply of PMICs and VRMs for DDR5 memory modules was one of the major reasons for slow shipments of the new generation DRAMs and high prices of actual DIMMs. Indeed, prices of DDR5 memory modules are dropping, just ahead of AMD’s launch of its Ryzen 7000-series ‘Raphael’ processors.

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