Samsung Electronics Co. will add a new application-specific NetDRAM patterned after the Japanese Fast Cycle RAM to its memory arsenal for the growing networking equipment market, according to industry sources Tuesday.
Samsung next week will formally announce an agreement with Fujitsu Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. to produce the networking memory chip under its NetDRAM name. Yoon WooLee, president of the Samsung Device Networks Solutions (Semiconductor) group, told EBN in a March interview in Korea that the three companies had agreed on a cooperative deal for production of the chip.
Sources said Samsung had access to the FCRAM technology through patent exchange agreements with the Japanese chip makers. However, Fujitsu and Toshiba balked at giving Samsung the trademark rights to Fast Cycle RAM, reportedly fearing the Korean chip giant might grab too large a market share. Consequently, Samsung will call its production version of the chip NetDRAM.
Like many memory vendors, Samsung is also selling SRAM, DDR SDRAM and Direct Rambus DRAM into the networking market. Bob Merritt, former network chip analyst for Semico Research Inc. and now vice president of business development for Axion Inc., Tempe, Ariz., said OEMs use many different types of memory, often in the same device.
"Memory is scattered throughout the product and OEMs selectwhat they consider the most appropriate memory type for each function," he said.
Samsung and its archrival Micron Technology Inc. are both expected to push the new 400-MHz DDR-I SDRAM for the network market. "OEMs want as fast memory as possible. They use a great amount of present DDR now and will gladly move up the
speed grade as suppliers start making the new 400-MHz chips," Merritt said.
Asked to comment on 400-MHz DDR-I for networking, a Samsung spokesman replied, "We think it is a great memory for many application, including network equipment."
The 400-MHz DDR-I has no JEDEC specification, and leaders of the industry standards group at their JEDEX conference in March suggested it might be better to wait for the next generation DDR-II standard devices to reach market.
However, Merritt said networking OEMs can develop their own specifications with Samsung and Micron because they attach chips directly to their boards without the need for modules and chipsets. Also because fewer high speed DDR-I chips are
needed and connected closer to processors, the 400-MHz memory could be less susceptible to noise and impedance problems as PC applications, he added.
Two competitors, Elpida Memory Inc. and Hynix Semiconductors Inc. on Tuesday threw down the gauntlet on DDR for networking by unveiling next generation application-specific DDR-II designs.
At a DRAM conference in Boston sponsored by Denali Software Inc., Elpida described a XDDR-2 chip for networks, and Hynix
disclosed its NetDDR-2 design.
Micron and Infineon Technologies AG also pushed their application-specific Reduced Latency DRAMs, adding to the cafeteria line of memory chips that networking OEMs can select.