Samsung says DDR2 output surpassing DDR1

Seoul - The DRAM is in the midst of its next major shift with DDR2 memory production beginning to outpace DDR1 devices. Samsung is the first manufacturer to announce that it has reached this mark. The company sees "plenty of life left in DDR2" and expects to double module capacity to 4 GByte later this year.

According to the company, July was the first month in which DDR2 production outpaced DDR1. Samsung said on Thursday that DDR2 accounted for about 40 percent of the firm's total DDR output, while DDR1 slipped to about 30 percent.

Most the leading memory manufacturers have been talking about this production shift for several months and predicted that it would happen sometime in the middle of 2005. Analysts such as Nam Kim from iSuppli believe that Samsung is first to make this move: "Samsung typically transitions faster than any other supplier. With DDR2 surpassing DDR1, the company appears to be about one quarter ahead of its competition," he said.

A visible ramp of DDR2 has been in place since the second quarter of 2004 and has been slower than many would have expected initially. Tom Trill, director of DRAM marketing at Samsung Semiconductor admitted that the company "originally had expected a faster pace in 2005."

The rather slow transition from DDR1 to DDR2 was described by Kim with a "lack of motivation" to bring the technology faster to the market. "There wasn't really any reason for DRAM makers to increase production any faster. Adoption of DDR2 especially from white box makers has been very slow. There was no real advantage for them in using DDR2."

According to iSuppli, overall DDR2 share was about 17 percent in the first quarter of this which increased to about 23 percent in the second quarter. The third quarter is expected to see about 40 percent. "We believe that the fourth quarter will be the transition phase for the industry. The DDR2 share will be about 49 to 50 percent."

Trill said that DDR2 speeds offered by Samsung will depend on market demands. "667 devices see robust demand and there is plenty of life left in this technology," he said. He declined to comment on upcoming product updates, but analysts in general expect mainstream DDR2 to move up to at least 800 MHz speeds before a transition to DDR3 memory will begin - possibly by the end of 2006.

Besides plain speed, consumers are likely going to see upgrades DDR2 capacity. While the mainstream memory module currently is moving from 512 MByte to a 1 GByte level, 2 GByte versions for the performance market are already on the way. Quinn confirmed that Samsung plans to double that capacity to 4 GByte and introduce such modules later this year.

Related stories
Infineon samples dual-die, 4 GByte DDR2 memory