A leading memory module and motherboard test lab, Computer Memory Test Labs (CMTL), Wednesday said products submitted for its compatibility testing program will no longer be required to meet JEDEC design specifications.
The decision by the Huntington Beach, Calif., lab sets up a major confrontation with the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, which is considering launching its own testing program to certify that memory parts and modules comply with the group's industry standards.
John Deters, CMTL president, claimed that in the case of memory modules, JEDEC compliance "is no guarantee that they will pass compatibility tests on motherboards." At the same time, he said, "There are many modules non-compliant to JEDEC specifications that perform well on the target motherboard."
JEDEC chairman Desi Rhoden took an opposing view, stating that his group's seal of approval is vital given that a greater number of non-JEDEC-compliant modules that exhibit failures or degraded performance are showing up in the market.
"The only protection that end users have is with a testing program that will certify modules will meet the full JEDEC specifications," Rhoden said, adding that some module firms "are cutting corners to save costs by not meeting JEDEC specs" in order to reduce their prices.
Deters, who said his company's new policy is based on more than 7,000 compatibility tests performed on modules and motherboards, argued that the strict JEDEC specs keep innovative module makers from improving their designs and engineering methods to differentiate their products. He said the process of compatibility testing of modules when they are dropped into the motherboard ensures in a real-world environment that the products work properly.
CMTL, which conducts compatibility testing for Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., among others, said the lab will now require module makers to indicate which specifications the modules meet before accepting products for testing.
CMTL and JEDEC also offered contrasting opinions on the number of memory module makers in the market.
Rhoden claimed there are more than 100 module manufacturers worldwide, making it impossible to assure total product quality without a JEDEC compliance-testing and certification program. However, Deters said about 25 module manufacturers and 15 motherboard makers make up most of the sales in the systems integrator and retail markets.
"With so few manufactures left in the industry, the markets have grown to depend on compatibility module testing and certification programs," such as the one offered by CMTL, Deters said.
A JEDEC task force has been assigned to explore the possibility of creating a JEDEC compliance testing program using an independent third-party lab. The JEDEC board of directors at its May meeting is slated to hear from the task force, and the JC42 memory committee will take up the matter at its meeting in June.
Still to be resolved is how any JEDEC compliance testing program would be funded, a subject Rhoden said the task force also is examining.