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What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

Taking an interest in pc hardware is like breaking the dams of Isengard. Once you do so you are hit with a seemingly never-ending river of confusing acronyms and impressive numbers that simply flood your brain. I have already made several articles, on each and every pc component and I still have more work ahead of us.

Case in point, the graphics card memory just from differentiating VRAM from system RAM going through all of its specs and then understanding the role it plays in achieving desirable in-game performance can be excruciating. And even then there's the fact that it's not all about the VRAM even though it is an important part.

But there are also several types of VRAM we're all familiar with GDDR at this point. GDDR5 has been used in most graphics cards for the last decade and is now being replaced by GDDR6. But there is another type of VRAM that's been finding its home in an increasing number of graphics cards over the years.

We're talking of course about the titular HBM along with its successor HBM2 and HBM2E. With that in mind, we've made this article to shed some light on these new technologies to see just how good they are both overall and specifically for gamers.



HBM

HBM stands for high bandwidth memory. The name itself is a dead giveaway of what it's all about ''high bandwidth'' but that's not all that it's about. In addition, having more bandwidth than either DDR or GDDR memory, HBM also uses less power and takes up less space on the PCB. This is achieved by stacking multiple dies on top of each other.

Imagine a quadruple pancake on a single plate and well you'll kind of get the idea. So if a single HBM die has a 1024-bit memory bus and it does and a bandwidth of 128 gigabytes per second which it also does. Then when you stack 4 of them together you get a 4096-bit memory bus and 512 gigabytes per second of bandwidth which is pretty much just insane.

What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

Each HBM die also supports 4 gigabytes of memory so with 4 stacks you'd get 16 gigabytes. Even though it's not jaw-dropping by today's high-end standards it's going to keep in mind that HBM is a technology that debuted in 2015. Back then these specs were leaks ahead of GDDR5.


Why do we need HBM?

As GPUs, the processors on your graphics card continue to grow faster. They're at type 4 lightning fast delivery of information continues to increase and GDDR5 has continued to sort of scale with that. We've increased clock speed. AMD has in the past released cards with up to 512-bit buses. So that's like tons of chips running in parallel. But quite frankly what happens is that increases both chip and PCB complexity and power consumption to the point where it's gotten.

Now, if we have to try to increase GDDR5's performance to keep up, it consumes so much power that you're left with less power budget for the GPU itself and you can't make that as powerful anyway. So you reach this wall. HBM through its design is actually able to be way more efficient in handling up to 3 times the bandwidth per watt compared to GDDR5.

It also features a super-wide bus of 1024 bit versus GDDR5's 32 bit and while GDDR5 can hit clock speeds in excess of 1750 megahertz so that's the bandwidth of up to 28 gigabytes per chip.

HBM clock speed can hit up to 500 megahertz. But with bandwidth greater than 100 gigabytes per stack. Thanks to its 1024 bit interface and the voltage is only 1.3 volts for HBM when compared to GDDR5's 1.5.


Where can you find HBM technology?

Still, only a handful of AMD GPUs ever used this technology. HBM was featured on Radeon R9 Fury, the Radeon R9 Nano, the Radeon R9 Fury X, and the Radeon Pro Duo.This is a mass-produced card with HBM technology and obviously being new tech that comes with a hefty price tag and some limitations.

It's only available in a 4-gigabyte variant likely due to cost and manufacturing complexity. But that's the price of being an early adopter and as with all things the prices will inevitably drop and you'll have HBM in your toaster making sure that it's even on both sides in no time. It wasn't until its successor HBM2 entered the scene that this technology saw a somewhat wider implementation.



HBM2
What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

If this technology were a movie franchise HBM2 would be a highly praised sequel something along the lines of the empire strikes back the dark knight or Shrek 2. It's greatly improved upon the key features of its predecessor by offering twice to bandwidth making it so that a single stack could support 8 gigabytes of memory and ramping up the number of total supported stacks from 4 to 8.

To spare you the mental math, this equates to a maximum bandwidth of over 2 terabytes and 64 gigabytes of memory. It made the original HBM look like old news. and yet the original HBM was still leagues ahead of GDDR5. As such, it found a home in some of the most powerful GPUs of its time.

We're talking the likes of the AMD Radeon RX Vega series, the Radeon 7, the Radeon VII, several Radeon pro GPUs, as well as Nvidia's Titan V, and the Quadro GP100. The future of HBM was looking bright at this point. But this was not taken as a call to stagnate.


HBM2E

In 2018, JEDEC announced the HBM2E and the exponential growth just kept coming. The ramped-up version took the specs to a whole new level. Increasing the maximum bandwidth to 307 gigabytes per second the maximum stack size to 12 dies and the maximum memory per stack to no fewer than 24 gigabytes.

What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

That's well over 3.6 terabytes of bandwidth and 288 gigabytes of RAM if all 12 dies were used. The bandwidth per die didn't quite double in size but with the expanded stack size it still reached brand new heights. Since then Samsung and SK Hynix have both announced their own variants of HBM2E which only support up to 8 stacks and 16 gigabytes of memory per stack but offer even greater bandwidth.

Samsung's HBM2E offers 410 gigabytes per second bandwidth and SK Hynix take it up even further to 460 gigabytes per second. HBM2E still hasn't found a home in any GPU but this is likely to change as AMD starts to entrench itself into the high-end GPU front that has been dominated by Nvidia for the longest time.



Is HBM good for gaming?


What Are HBM, HBM2 and HBM2E?

Chances are this has got you hyped to get an HBM graphics card and take your gaming to the next level. If that's the case, let's just slow down for a minute I've already made a comparison article where we look at how various iterations of HDMI stacks up against the latest versions of GDDR.

So check that out if you'd like a more in-depth analysis of how they stack up. But the short of it is this for the purposes of gaming, HBM is only superior on paper now what do we mean by this. It's easy to get desensitized when you're exposed to all of these ridiculous specs. 288 gigabytes of RAM makes you wonder how you could ever get by with a single-digit VRAM, but the truth is you can.

8 gigabytes of VRAM is plenty for high-end gaming and because gaming is all we are concerned with when making this argument you don't get much out of any surplus either. Here's the cold hard truth, games can only make use of the specs they've been optimized to make use of.

If you're booting up an old game from a single CPU core era the game will use a single CPU core to do everything it needs to do. Doesn't matter if you have 4, 6, 8, or even a 20 core CPU. The game's been made to utilize 1 core so that's what it will do. The same goes for some GPU specs.

Sure the better the GPU the better the in-game performance but there is a limit to how high it can go. Video games simply aren't made to take advantage of all of that extra VRAM and they certainly aren't made to take advantage of the kind of bandwidth HDMI offers.

They could potentially be made to do so but this would be pointless on the developer's end since gamers aren't expected to have these kinds of specs. This should tell us a lot about the target demographic that's interested in HBM equipped graphics cards.

The only way to make HBM truly shine is to put it into an environment where it will be surrounded by GPU and memory-intensive applications that can make use of this kind of VRAM and memory. And that's why they're not made for gamers. instead, these GPUs are targeted at professionals building high-end workstations.

So yeah, if you're a gamer there's no need for you to concern yourself with HBM it doesn't hurt to know what it is but it's not something you should aim to put inside your build. especially since HBM is more expensive to manufacture which in turn means that GPUs that use it are quite expensive.



Conclusion

HBM is another type of VRAM but it packs way more heat than GDDR. Nevertheless, you don't really need this kind of heat for gaming in fact it's wasted on gaming. So regardless of whether you're on a budget or building the ultimate high-end pc build stick to GDDR graphics cards. In any case, I hope you found this article helpful you can let me know if you have by sharing it with friends and leaving a comment.

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