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Samsung announces first DDR4 DRAM module

Samsung Electronics said it has completed development of the first DDR4 DRAM module, which offers twice the performance of today's DDR3 DRAM and reduces power consumption when used in a notebook by 40 percent.

Samsung said Tuesday that the DDR4 DRAM uses 30 nanometer (nm) class lithography process technology, its smallest circuitry technology to date. By employing a new circuit architecture, Samsung said its DDR4 modules will be able to perform operations from 1.6Gbit/sec. to 3.2Gbit/sec., compared with today's DDR3 speeds of 1.6Gbit/sec. and DDR2's speeds of up to 800Mbit/sec.

"The new DDR4 DRAM will build even greater confidence in our cutting-edge green memory , particularly when we introduce four-gigabit (Gb) DDR4-based products using next generation process technology for mainstream application," Dong Soo Jun, president of Samsung's memory division, said in a statement.

The new DDR4 DRAM module can achieve data transfer rates of 2.133 Gbit/sec. at 1.2 volts, compared with 1.35 volts and 1.5 volts in DDR3 DRAM at an equivalent 30nm-class process technology, with speeds of up to 1.6Gbit/sec.

In a notebook, the DDR4 module reduces power consumption by 40 percent compared to a 1.5V DDR3 module, Samsung said.

The module makes use of Pseudo Open Drain (POD), a new technology that has been adapted to high-performance graphic DRAM to allow DDR4 DRAM to consume just half the electric current of DDR3 when reading and writing data.

Samsung said that late last month it provided 1.2V 2GB DDR4 unbuffered dual in-line memory modules (UDIMM) to a controller maker for testing. Samsung plans to work closely with a number of server makers to help ensure completion of JEDEC standardization of DDR4 technologies in the second half of this year.

At the same time as Samsung's announcement, market research firm iSuppli released figures showing that DRAM pricing has continued to decline, plunging to their lowest point of the year last month. As of Dec. 10, the contract price for a 2GB DDR3 DRAM module stood at $21, more than 50 percent cheaper than the $44.40 a module cost just six months earlier.

The pricing drop is not restricted to DDR3. DDR2 devices module pricing dropped to $21.50 in December, compared to $38.80 in June, according to iSuppli.

"DRAM prices in general have been affected by soft PC demand—especially during the first half of 2010—as well as by greater supply of commodity memory following a solid increase in bit shipments during the second half," Mike Howard, principal analyst at iSuppli, said in a statement.

Howard said there appears to be nothing in the way to stop the DRAM pricing collapse and that as DDR3 reaches $1 per gigabyte, manufacturers will be forced to slow production as cost exceeds price.

The drop in prices was also borne out by Taiwan-based trading company DRAMeXchange, which reported Tuesday that DRAM chip prices reached a one-year low due to a post-holiday oversupply.

[Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.]

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