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Micron ups ante with 1Gbit DDR3

Posted: 01 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Micron Technology? DDR3? DDR2? DDR1? DRAM?

Micron Technology Inc. is upping the ante for the nascent DDR3 generation of double-data-rate memory with a 1Gbit chip made in its 78nm process. Micron said the chip is ready to ship to customers for evaluation.

Although DDR2 is just eclipsing DDR1 as mainstream memory, most DRAM makers are acting quickly to get samples of DDR3 to system designers. Samsung Electronics Co. demonstrated a DDR3 chip in early 2005. Later that year, Infineon Technologies AG's memory operation (since spun out as Qimonda AG) shipped a working prototype to Intel Corp. Since then, just about all of the memory makers have shipped DDR3 samples, with densities ranging up to 512Mbits.

Micron expects to start volume production of its 1Gbit chip early next year. The device will support data rates of 800Mbps to 1,600Mbps and clock frequencies of 400MHz to 800MHz, doubling the performance of DDR2.

Supply voltage will dip from 1.8V to 1.5V, which will make DDR3 attractive for notebooks and servers because of the attendant drop in power consumption and heat generation. Even so, said Kevin Kilbuck, a senior marketing manager at Micron, the company expects DDR3 to find its first design slots in desktop PCs, "with production systems shipping around mid-2007. Notebooks and servers will follow later in '07 and in '08."

Aside from faster transfer rates and lower power consumption, DDR3 has a host of features that make it better than DDR2. These include improved pinout for better power and ground referencing, improved write signaling via dynamic on-die termination and improved module layout to support higher speeds, Kilbuck said.

"The biggest challenge that system and chipset manufacturers will face when designing-in DDR3 is managing the higher-speed interface," he said. But the new features of DDR3 should help mitigate those challenges.

IDC analyst Shane Rau believes "memory-thirsty" computing and consumer applications, such as Microsoft's Vista OS, will help drive sales of DDR3 before long.

But Kilbuck believes that, as is typical for DRAM life cycles, it will still take a few years before DDR3 trickles into devices like HDTVs.

DDR3 will come in x4, x8 and x16 configurations, supporting module densities from 512Mbytes through 4Gbytes.

Micron said a 2Gbit DDR3 chip will be introduced early next year. Eventually, DDR3 will push into 8Gbit densities.

Market researcher DRAMExchange believes DDR3 chips will account for about 30 percent of the DRAM market in 2008 and will overtake DDR2 in 2009.

- Mike Clendenin
EE Times

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