Top memory chip makers see early 2007 launch for DDR3

Samsung and Infineon plan to have DDR3 computer memory chips out by 2007, while an incrementally faster version of DDR2 is ready for production.

The next generation of computer memory chips, DDR3, could be ready for market in early 2007, two of the world's biggest memory chip makers said Monday.

In the meantime, a series of incremental improvements will enable existing DRAM (dynamic RAM) technologies to keep up with the escalating speeds demanded by gamers, video makers and other power-users.

The next generation DDR3 chips will work faster and at even lower power than current computer memory, said DY Lee, a manager in new product definition and enabling at Samsung Electronics, speaking at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei.

One of Samsung's main rivals, Infineon Technologies, will have DDR3 available for customers to sample around the end of 2006, said Jessica Chen, a product marketing engineer for Infineon.

The current mainstream memory chip is DDR-400, double data rate DRAM running at 400MHz. But DDR2 is gaining popularity for its lower power consumption, which saves battery life in notebook computers and other mobile gadgets.

DDR2 needs a 1.8 volts power supply, lower than the 2.5 volts required by DDR. In practice, DDR2 gives uses between 50 percent and 60 percent less power than DDR, Lee said.

The production of DDR2 could outpace DDR by late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, Lee said.

Ultimately, DDR2 will come in four separate speeds, but only two are currently available in mass quantities on the market, DDR2-400 and DDR2-533. Samsung has also begun producing DDR2-667, and will announce it soon, Lee said.

Infineon will mass produce DDR2-667 in the second quarter, Chen said.

The next, and final, leap for DDR2, to 800MHz, likely won't reach markets for another six months, Lee said. An industry standard for DDR2-800 has not yet been finalized.

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Dan Nystedt

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