SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- During the first-ever JEDEX conference today, a representative from JEDEC outlined a roadmap for the "mainstream" DRAM market, disclosing that his organization "may or may not" ratify a much-anticipated standard for 400-MHz double-data-rate (DDR) SDRAMs.
The disclosure is bound to upset Micron, Samsung, and other DRAM makers, which are rolling out the first engineering samples of DRAMs based on proposed DDR-400 standards.
Last week, Micron Technology Inc. announced it had shipped its first samples of DDR-400 memories to Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. in Taiwan for qualification testing (see March 20 story). Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in Korea said it had begun delivering DDR-400 samples to several chip set makers (see March 15 story).
Meanwhile, DRAM manufacturers are currently making the swift transition from standard synchronous DRAMs to the 200- and 266-MHz versions of the DDR standard for "mainstream memory" in PCs and other systems. The so-called DDR-200 and DDR-266 standards support system data transfer rates at 1,600 and 2,100 megabytes per second, respectively.
Now, the faster 333-MHz version (DDR-333) has been ratified by JEDEC, and the technology is expected to become the new, mainstream DRAM technology for high-volume PCs and other products, said Bill Gervasi, technology director at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta Corp. and representative of the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association. (JEDEC was once known as the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council.)
"DDR-266 will be very viable for a long time," Gervasi said in his presentation before the JEDEX meeting in Santa Clara today. "We are in the introduction stage for DDR-333," he said in his speech before JEDEX, which is a two-day conference sponsored by the JEDEC group and other organizations.
The DDR-333 is being pushing by several vendors, including a pair of chip set suppliers in Taiwan: Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. and Via Technologies Inc. The system data transfer rate for DDR-333 memories is expected to be 2,700 Mbytes per second.
But still, the DDR-333 market will take some time to fully develop. The chip set rollouts are just now in the early stages, while systems manufacturers are somewhat reluctant to adopt the new memories in favor of the cheaper DDR-266 parts, according to analysts.
Meanwhile, if or when the DDR-333 standard takes off, there are two technologies vying for dominance in the next-generation DRAM race: DDR-II and the 400-MHz version of DDR SDRAM, or DDR-400.
During his presentation, Gervasi implied that DDR-II would become the next DRAM standard after DDR-333. "I don't see DDR-400 as a mainstream product," he said. "I see it as a boutique memory," he said, noting DDR-400 would be geared for more specialized applications.
He said JEDEC "may or may not" ratify DDR-400 as a standard. But the organization is well under way to develop the specifications for DDR-II, which will offer 3,200-Mbytes-per-second data transfer rates.
DDR-II is not expected to be a mainstream technology until 2004, although engineering samples for parts are due out late-2002 or early-2003, he added.
A spokesman for Samsung Electronics at the JEDEX conference declined to comment on Gervasi's remarks. Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology could not be reached for comment.