DDR3 memory modules appear at IDF

San Francisco (CA) - Elpida and Hynix showcased DDR3 modules at Intel's developer forum for the first time. The technology, however, is at least another 18 months out and manufacturers are currently gearing up to deliver fully-buffered DIMMs for the first quarter of next year.

DDR types 1 and 2 are still full of life. In the past week, Samsung announced that it has just passed a point where the company is now producing more DDR2 memory than DDR1. And there is still plenty of demand for DDR1, with markets already commanding a premium for DDR1 over DDR2. But memory manufacturers are looking out in the future and used IDF as one of the first opportunities to display their DDR3 generation of SDRAM.

Both, Elpida and Hynix had DDR3 prototypes on display. Samples of the technology are expected to be available sometime in 2006 with actual commercial products to be ready in the 2007 time frame. DDR3 will serve as a bridge technology at 800 MHz and lead DDR memory in steps at 1066 MHz, 1333 MHz to 1600 GHz clock speed. Compared to DDR2, voltage will decrease from 1.8 volts to 1.5 volts, which will result in a better performance per watt ratio, according to manufacturers.

Pure performance is expected to be on par with DDR2 - with latencies changing from 5-5-5 for DDR2-800 to 6-6-6 for DDR3-800 - which does not necessarily make DDR3 a technology for performance PCs, but rather a memory solution for servers and notebooks - due to their lower power consumption.

Virtually all memory manufacturers, including Samsung, Infineon, Hynix and Elpida, announced that they will begin mass-production of FB-DIMMs in the fourth quarter of this year to support Intel's first generation dual-core Xeon platform - which will be first to offer access to this technology in the first quarter of 2006.