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Samsung announces first DDR4 DRAM module

Prices for DDR3, DDR2 plummet

January 4, 2011 02:48 PM ET

Computerworld - Samsung Electronics said it has completed development of the first DDR4 dynamic RAM module, which offers twice the performance of today's DDR3 DRAM and reduces power consumption by 40% when used in a notebook.

Samsung's DDR4 DRAM module
Samsung's upcoming DDR4 module offers twice the performance of DDR3 DRAM.

Samsung said on Tuesday that it completed development of its first DDR4 DRAM module last month, using 30 nanometer (nm) class lithography process technology, its smallest circuitry technology to date.

By employing a new circuit architecture, Samsung said its DDR4 modules will be able to perform operations at speeds of 1.6Gbit/sec. to 3.2Gbit/sec., compared with today's DDR3 speeds of 1.6Gbit/sec. and DDR2's speeds of up to 800Mbit/sec.

At the same time as Samsung's announcement, market research firm iSuppli released figures showing that DRAM pricing has continued to decline, plunging to their lowest point of 2010 last month. As of Dec. 10, the contract price for a 2GB DDR3 DRAM module stood at $21, more than 50% cheaper than the $44.40 a module cost just six months earlier.

The pricing drop is not restricted to DDR3. Pricing for a DDR2 DRAM module dropped to $21.50 in December, compared to $38.80 in June, according to iSuppli.

"DRAM prices in general have been affected by soft PC demand -- especially during the first half of 2010 -- as well as by greater supply of commodity memory following a solid increase in bit shipments during the second half," Mike Howard, principal analyst at iSuppli, said in a statement.

Howard said that there appears to be nothing to stop the DRAM pricing collapse and that as DDR3 reaches $1 per gigabyte, manufacturers will be forced to slow production as their costs exceed the prices they can charge.

The drop in prices was also confirmed by Taiwan-based trading company DRAMexchange, which reported on Tuesday that DRAM chip prices reached a one-year low because of post-holiday oversupplies.

"The new DDR4 DRAM will build even greater confidence in our cutting-edge green memory, particularly when we introduce four-gigabit DDR4-based products using next-generation process technology for mainstream application," Dong Soo Jun, president of Samsung's memory division, said in a statement.

The new DDR4 DRAM module can achieve data transfer rates of 2.133Gbit/sec. at 1.2 volts, compared with 1.35 volts and 1.5 volts in DDR3 DRAM at an equivalent 30nm-class process technology, with speeds of up to 1.6Gbit/sec.

In a laptop computer, the DDR4 module yields a 40% reduction in power consumption compared to a 1.5V DDR3 module, Samsung said.

The module makes use of Pseudo Open Drain (POD) technology, a new technology that has been adapted to high-performance graphic DRAM to allow DDR4 DRAM to consume half as much electric current as DDR3 when reading and writing data.

Samsung said that late last month it provided 1.2V 2GB DDR4 unbuffered dual in-line memory modules (UDIMM) to a controller maker for testing. Samsung plans to work closely with a number of server makers to help ensure completion of JEDEC standardization of DDR4 technologies in the second half of this year.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at Twitter @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed Mearian RSS. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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