BOISE, Idaho -- Micron Technology Inc. here today announced it is offering industry samples of three DRAM products: a 133-MHz, 64-megabit Double Data Rate (DDR) SDRAM; a PC133 SDRAM; and two Rambus DRAMs.
The product launch is part of Micron's attempts to support as many types of DRAM as necessary to satisfy a broad range of customer demand, said Jeff Mailloux, marketing manager for DRAM at Micron. "We have to make all of these in volume," he said.
All of the new products are manufactured with 0.18-micron process technology. In the case of the Rambus DRAMs, this produces a higher percentage of 800-MHz parts, according to Mailloux. "By focusing RDRAM development on 0.18-micron process technology, we will deliver very fast, very competitive memory products for the introduction of Rambus-based systems this fall," he said. Samples of the RDRAMs are priced at $45 each in quantities of 1,000.
The company is also sampling 64-, 96-, and 128-Mbit Rambus in-line memory modules (RIMMs). These are assembled using Micron's own fine-pitch ball grid array (FBGA) packaging. "We are one of the few manufacturers that has developed and uses its own technology from start to finish in providing this complex product," Mailloux said.
Micron's 128-megabit SDRAM PC133 chip is aimed at providing high-bandwidth performance at a competitive price, Mailloux said. "The 133-MHz 128-Mbit SDRAM meets the need for incremental performance improvement over PC100 speed grades demanded by many systems," Mailloux said. "SDRAMs are the most cost-effective memory technology available."
These DRAMs are targeted at the increasingly large memory requirements of high-end server and workstation and lower-cost desktop applications, Mailloux said. The SDRAMs are offered in 32-Mbit-x-4, 16-Mbit-x-8, and 8-Mbit-x-16 configurations.
The PC133 chips are packaged identically as Micron's 64-Mbit SDRAMs for easy upgradability, and prices are comparable to PC100 SDRAMs, Micron said.
The new 64-Mbit Double Data Rate SDRAM functions at 266 MHz with system-level bandwidth of 2.1 gigabytes per second. At these speeds, Micron's DDR SDRAMs are suitable as main memory for servers and workstations, and also provide low latency and high bandwidth, according to Micron.
As large memory arrays demand lower power consumption, Micron is pursuing lower-power DRAMs, Mailloux said. The new 64-Mbit DDR DRAM uses 2.5 volts, enabling low power consumption in large memory array systems. Micron is also working on 2.7- and 1.8-V chips in response to market demand, he said.
Micron is positioning itself for leadership in multiple DRAM markets, said Maillloux, because "the DRAM market is fragmenting and unpredictable." Micron aims to supply at least three DRAM architectures in volume, he said: Direct RDRAM, PC133/PC100, and DDR DRAM. "We want to make good volume on any of those and change quickly if necessary," Mailloux said.
The fragmentation and unpredictability of the DRAM market requires that Micron "react as fast as we can" to any market changes. "There is no single DRAM anymore," he said. Rambus, for instance, is positioned for the high end of the market while PC133 and PC100 are at the low-cost end.
"There's no reason a PDA personal digital assistant should use the same memory as a PC," Mailloux said. "We see more applications for DRAM than the PC5
Even the traditional EDO market is still performing for Micron, he noted. "We're not running around looking for new EDO business, but it's part of the business of being a supplier, and we'll make what customers want." He said Micron still had key customer support for 16-Mbit EDO/FPM DRAM.
Micron has developed the flexibility to respond to all of these markets, Mailloux said. It has converted all the fabs it acquired last year from Texas Instruments Inc. to 0.18-micron processing, and is even shrinking EDOs to 0.18-micron line widths. The fabs can start any of the four DRAM architectures Micron is supporting, and "if we have the right backend equipment, we can change the output mix in three months," Mailloux said.
The Boise chip maker is also crusading to raise the level of awareness about DRAM in the PC market. It recently joined several other DRAM makers to start the Council on Computing Power, which is promoting the notion that memory bandwidth is underrated in judging the performance of a PC as compared to the speed of the microprocessor (see Aug. 26 story). He points to Winstone benchmarks indicating that more memory, not just faster memory, pays off better in performance relative to megahertz. "Going out to the disk drive for more memory is an order of magnitude slower," Mailloux said. Further details are available on the Council's Web site, www.rammatters.com.