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Samsung preps 400MHz DDR launch

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Samsung is to go into volume production of DDR400 SDRAM 128Mb memory in Q2. The world's biggest DRAM maker is already sampling the fast memory chip with its major customers - and it is gunning for $300m worth of sales from the graphics-targeted device in 2002.

Samsung is making a big play for supplying graphics board makers with fast memory. It estimates that 70 per cent of graphic boards built this year will use DDR DRAM, and that it has 80 per cent of this business.

The new 400MHz device is 30 per cent faster when it comes to transmitting data than 300MHz versions, according to Samsung. Compared and contrast with the 325MHz clock frequency (650Mb/s/pin) of the memory used on the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 - a 23 per cent increase.

Here's some more Samsung 400 spec, culled off the data sheet. It can process data at 3.2GB/sec and transmits data at 800Mbps. The chip operates on 2.8 volts and lives inside 12mm x12mm FBGA packaging. Fine-pitch ball grid array is the JEDEC standard for x32 DDR SDRAM, so, as Samsung helpfully points out, graphics board manufacturers using DDR can swap out the memory device for an easy upgrade.

However, the fact that this is a 128Mb part may hamper sales to card makers - the high-end Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 uses 256Mb memory, for instance.

This may be the world's first production DDR400 device, but it is unlikely to find its way into PC memory, where the clock speed is typically much slower than for graphics use. DDR266 operates, for instance at 133MHz, giving it a data transmission speed of 266Mb/s/pin. So why the frequency discrepancy?

Reader Phil Martin kindly supplies us with an explanation: the answer is that the graphics chips operate in a much more tightly controlled environment, with the memory chips much closer to the controller, so that tracks are kept short. Typically you only have one load per pin, which reduces loading, and makes signal termination easier - increasing signal quality.

"In a PC, tracks are longer, and have to go though DIMM sockets, and there are typically multiple DIMM slots, which make signal termination much more tricky - hence the lower clock rate."

Finally, we can't let you go without the part number - K4D26323RA-GC25. ®

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