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DDR2 moves into the mainstream

Production of the speedier memory chip overtakes DDR

Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker, has said that the global shift to a speedier computer memory chip, DDR2 (double data rate, second generation), is accelerating. The chips now account for the majority of its factory output of DRAM (dynamic-RAM).

The DDR2 chips were supposed to take over as the world's most widely used PC memory chip last year, but high prices, the marginal performance boost they offer compared to existing DDR chips, and other factors caused the timeframe to be pushed back, analysts said. In the interim, the original DDR chips, running at 400MHz, or DDR-400, have remained the most popular memory for PCs.

Industry attention to the Flash memory market has also held back DDR2, some observers argue.

Consumer appetite for notebook computers this year has helped prod the industry shift to DDR2 despite the higher costs. Although early versions of DDR2 are only slightly faster than DDR-400, DDR2 chips consume less battery power, an important consideration for laptop users. The chips have also already moved into servers, as well as gaming PCs and other high-performance systems.

Samsung's push certainly helps. As the world's largest memory chip maker, it can encourage the market to move in the direction of DDR2. The company says its production of DDR2 outpaced DDR for the first time in July, with 40 percent of its total DRAM output in DDR2 and 30 percent in DDR.

The company is now producing 256Mb, 512Mb, and 1Gb versions of DDR2 chips that run at 533MHz, plus 256Mb and 512Mb versions of its new DDR2 that run at 667MHz. The speedier DDR2-667 should help increase attention because they provide a more significant performance boost in terms of speed over DDR-400, analysts say.

DDR2 sales are projected to grow to $6.5bn (£3.6mn) this year from $1.5bn (£800m) last year, and take off in 2006 with global sales valued at $18bn (£9.9bn), according to De Dios & Associates, a memory chip market research firm.

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