Samsung first with lower cost, power saving 30nm DDR3 DRAM

The company will mass produce chips with 30nm technology in the second half of 2010

The most advanced DRAM chips yet from Samsung Electronics, 30-nanometer DDR3 DRAM, have been qualified by customers as ready to go into products, the world's largest memory chip maker said Monday.

The 2Gb (gigabit) DDR3 (double data rate, third generation) chips consume 30 percent less power than chips made using 50nm production technology and can be made at more than double the cost-efficiency, Samsung said. The company has 2Gb DDR3 for laptops, desktops and servers that use just 1.5-volts or 1.35-volts of power.

DDR3 will likely take over as the world's mainstream DRAM chip from its predecessor, DDR2 (DDR, second generation) this quarter due to its lower power consumption and speedier performance, according to DRAMeXchange Technology, which runs an online clearinghouse for memory chips. PC vendors are aggressively moving to use the chips in laptops and servers.

The use of tiny 30nm production technology puts Samsung ahead of rival DRAM makers. The company said its 30nm DDR3 chips will be in mass production in the second half of this year, and it plans to expand use of the new technology to most memory chip production lines by the end of 2010.

One of the few companies ahead of Samsung, IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture of Intel and Micron Technology, is using 25nm technology to make flash memory chips. The company does not make DRAM.

The nanometer measurement describes the microscopic size of transistors and other parts on a chip. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter, about the size of a few atoms combined.

Developing smaller chip manufacturing technology is crucial to meeting user demand for small devices that can perform many functions, such as smartphones that act as a computer, camera, music player and phone. Smaller etching technologies also enable companies to increase chip speed and reduce power consumption.

Advances in chip manufacturing technology also lower costs over time, a major benefit to consumers.

The 30nm technology raises productivity by 60 percent over older 40nm technology in DDR3 chips, Samsung said. Chip makers usually do not pass this cost savings on to consumers immediately because they first need to recoup the massive investment needed to roll out the technology.

There are more DRAM chips made every year than any other kind of computer chip. They are vital to overall computing speed because they store work as it's being done on-screen, from writing a note to editing a video. More DRAM is needed for multitasking and for large applications such as gaming or multimedia.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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