Mass production of DDR2 SDRAM for computers will develop in 2005, a year later than originally forecast, according to analysts and chipmakers at last week's Platform Conference held here.
Conference participants said there will be a slower production ramp for high-speed DDR2 because of delays in qualifying chipsets and motherboards and less pressure from computer manufacturers to rush the technology to market.
In the meantime, DDR1-400, which is just entering the market, is expected to fill the gap between current DDR1-333 chips and DDR2.
Although major DRAM suppliers said they will start sampling DDR2 chips as originally planned in late 2003 or early 2004, several factors could delay full production by 12 to 18 months, according to Bill Gervasi, technology analyst and chairman of the JEDEC memory parametric group in Arlington, Va.
"It all depends on how fast systems manufacturers decide to move to DDR2, and now they have DDR1-400 to fill the gap," said Brett Williams, desktop segment marketing manager at Micron Technology Inc., Boise, Idaho.
The next quarter will determine how quickly PC and server manufacturers turn to DDR2, because of the long lead time required to design and qualify systems, Williams said. Any delay could push volume production further into 2005.
Yoshitomo Asakura, man- ager of strategic marketing at Elpida Memory (USA) Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., said JEDEC's original production target for DDR2 was 2004, but volume output now will come a year later.
"Transition to a new generation takes time," Asakura said. "System companies don't want to change quickly. Mass production in 2005 is a reasonable schedule."
Jim Cantore, an analyst at iSuppli Corp. in San Jose, said PC and server makers that are redesigning systems and validating DDR1-400 this year will take their time shifting to DDR2.
The production delay hasn't affected the market launch of the graphics version of DDR2, which uses a point-to-point interface that doesn't require a supporting cast of memory modules, chipsets, and motherboards, and therefore is able to ramp more quickly than main memory chips designed for PCs and servers.
At least one company, Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., said it will begin volume production of DDR2 chips in 2004. Samsung also has been a strong advocate of DDR1-400.
"The two memory types, DDR2 and DDR1-400, can co-exist in the market," said Mian Quddus, manager of technology enabling at Samsung Semiconductor Inc., San Jose.
Samsung already is shipping production quantities of DDR1-400. DRAM senior product marketing manager Jim Elliott said Samsung will achieve a 40% yield rate on DDR1-400 in the first half of this year, increasing to more than 60% in the first half of 2004.
Elliott said Intel Corp.'s introduction in the second quarter of 2003 of its Springdale chipset for desktops and its Canterwood chipset for workstations will support DDR1-400 and spur demand for the new chip.
Bert McComas, principal analyst for InQuest Market Research, Gilbert, Ariz., which hosted the Platform Conference, said DDR1-400 will be helped by servers adopting the new memory. McComas said servers will assure DDR1-400 a longer life because of the extended design cycles that lock in use of a given memory.
ServerWorks Inc., Santa Clara, told conference participants that it will sample its Grand Champion SLX chipset in the first half of this year to support DDR1-400. David Dorrough, ServerWorks' technical marketing manager, said a company chipset supporting DDR2 will enter production in the second half of 2005.