DDR-SDRAM Has Finally Arrived


You've seen the results, now what do you think? I have heard from several people that they were disappointed by the small improvement seen with DDR SDRAM. They don't consider it as a particularly amazing thing. Well, I have to heavily disagree with that.

I am doing this crazy hardware-reviewing job now for over 4 1/2 years. In this time I've seen a lot of new memory types coming up and each was hyped more than the one before. The first new memory I came across was EDO-RAM. Do you still remember 430VX and the first SDRAM-tests? PC66 SDRAM that was! Or what about the introduction of 440LX and the new SPD-requirement? Then there was BX and PC100 SDRAM. Finally we had PC133 SDRAM and the dreaded RDRAM. Can you remember a performance increase of over 2-4% with any of those memory types when they came out? I certainly can't. That's why my expectations weren't exactly high when we received our first DDR SDRAM platform.

The introduction of DDR SDRAM is indeed an impressive thing. Performance gains of over 10% are worth a lot of respect. We have never seen anything like that ever before with any other new memory type. As the DDR-chipsets get more mature, BIOSes get tweaked and drivers become more stable we might see even more benefit from this new memory standard. At the same time DDR SDRAM isn't ridiculously overpriced. RDRAM was never able to live up to Rambus claims. On top of that it was badly overhyped and even forced to the customers. DDR SDRAM is faster, cheaper and its technology is not held by a so called 'IP'-company that has just lost its very last friend in the business.

Looking at e.g. the MPEG4-benchmark results should also give you an idea of what you can expect from Pentium 4 and i850. Intel's upcoming Pentium 4 platform will use the very same dual-channel Rambus architecture as i840. Intel has learned that it has made a bad mistake. Pentium 4 will be inhibited by a platform that can only use a poorly performing and expensive memory type. Intel will have to hurry up with its DDR SDRAM chipsets unless it wants to lose even more market share to AMD.

Finally I'd like to commend AMD on a well performing chipset as well as processor. Now we are only waiting for 760MP, the multi-processor version of the 760 chipset. VIA will need to do some more work with VT8633, but it has nothing to worry. For the time being VIA will be the only provider of a DDR266-chipset for Pentium III and Celeron. This is just the same situation as last year, when VIA started its success story as the only provider of PC133-chipsets.