Has your PC been on th fritz lately? If so, there's a good chance it's the system memory causing all those headaches, according to Google's research. Google, which has several thousand computers in its data centers, collected real-world data on its systems and wrote a research paper (PDF) titled "DRAM Errors in the Wild: A Large-Scale Field Study."
"We found the incidence of memory errors and the range of error rates across different DIMMs (dual pin-line memory modules) to be much higher than previously reported," according to the paper written by Bianca Schroeder, a professor at the University of Toronto, and Google's Eduardo Pinheiro and Wolf-Dietrich Weber. "Memory errors are not rare events."
The results might surprise you. Google's research reveals that correctable memory errors occur in one of every three of the company's servers each year, and one in a hundred suffer an uncorrectable error, which usually leads to a crash.
It's important to note that Google's servers use ECC (error correction code) memory, yet each module, on average, suffered nearly 4,000 correctable errors per year. So what's the big deal if they're correctable? A correctable error on a Google machine is likely an uncorrectable error on your PC, says Peter Glaskowsky, an analyst at the Envisioneering Group.
However, Glaskowsky also points out that most consumer PCs aren't manipulating tons of data in memory.
Look for low-power DDR3 modules to hit retailers before the end of the year. That's because Elpida Memory today said it has finished development of its 40nm 2-gigabit (2Gb, with a lowercase 'b') DDR3 SDRAM and will ship samples next November. Mass production is slated to begin before the end of 2009.
On the manufacturing side, Elpida's smaller 40nm chips allows the company to achieve a 44 percent higher chip yield per wafer compared to 50nm, and a 100 percent yield for DDR3 products that operate at 1.6Gbps, the company said.
Elpida claims its 40nm 2Gb DDR3 chips use about two-thirds less current and support 1.2V to 1.35V operation, in addition to the DDR3 standard 1.5V. That's about a 45 percaent reduction in power consumption, which might not sound like much for a typical home user, but could add up in a server farm.
For probably the first time in a very long time, the future appears bright for the memory market. Either that, or A-Data chairman Simon Chen is sporting an awfully bright pair of rose-colored glasses.
According to Chen, both the NAND flash and DRAM sectors have recovered in the second half of 2009, following the easing of an oversupply of chips that previously kept prices uncomfortably low. Chen views this as a positive sign moving forward, saying the overall memory sector is expected to return to its 2006 or 2007 form in 2010.
If true, this bodes particularly well for A-Data, who has aspirations of once again reigning as the most profitable among Taiwan-based memory module companies in 2010. A-Data is planning on expanding in India, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, and according to Chen, sales generated from the emerging markets should grow significantly in 2010.
Like that cold you can't seem to shake, DDR2 has been hanging onto the market place, even as new platforms make a push for DDR3. That all changes six months from now, as DDR3 finally becomes the mainstream memory, says Morgan Stanley analyst Frank Wang.
Samsung, Hynix, Elpida, and Micron have all started to reshuffle manufacturing to allocate more capacity to DDR3 output, and of course that means scaling down DDR2 parts. And for those who are unable to produce DDR3 chips, they will be forced to pack their bags and exit the market when DDR3 supplants DDR2, Wang said.
In the meantime, DDR2 pricing is poised to fall once again. However, Wang warned that chip suppliers shouldn't take this as a sign that DDR2 is here to stay and they need to be aware of DDR3's impending march into the mainstream.
The price suppliers pay for DDR2 RAM has been climbing slowly for some time. Now it may have finally crossed paths with DDR3 prices, says price tracker DRAMexchange. The cost of a 1Gb 800Mhz chip has risen to $2, about the same as DDR3.As more platforms add support for DDR3, adoption has accelerated.
The increase in price had been accelerating in the last few weeks. It has gotten to the point that PC OEMs find supplies of DDR2 chips to be dwindling. When an OEM can get more advanced DDR3 for the same price, the market should switch over, according to analysts.This means you may be seeing a lot more DDR3 RAM in computers going forward.
OCZ on Thursday expanded its DDR3 lineup to include its new Black Edition 4GB kits intended for AMD's next-gen Phenom II processors, the memory maker said.
"OCZ is excited to launch our new AMD Black Edition Ready Series which is designed specifically to work with AMD's OverDrive software utility," said Eugene Chang, vice president of Product Management at OCZ. "The new OCZ Black Edition modules not only interact with AOD to overclock the memory, but also communicate with the BIOS to increase the frequency and performance of the memory controller. The result is a symbiotic relationship between memory and the rest of the system to unleash the full power of the Dragon Platform."
Two new kits make up the new series, both spec'd at 1600MHz and boasting a low 1.65 voltage. The only difference between the two comes down to timings, with the looser kit rated at 8-8-8-24 and the tighter timed kit sporting 7-7-7-24 latencies.
According to Samsung president Oh-Hyn Kwon, the memory maker has decided to ramp up production of DDR3 chips and put an end to the DDR3 shortage.
A DDR3 shortage is news to us, but Kwon said that the supply of DDR3 chips has tightened in recent times, which he blames on a faster-than-expected pickup in demand. To alleviate the potential problem, Samsung will allocate more capacity to DDR3 output, with most of the focus moving towards 40nm.
How this all will affect pricing remains anyone's guess. According to Kwon, industry players won't even known what kind of pricing trend to expect until after late November, but he did add that DRAM pricing has returned to "reasonable" levels.
SanDisk today announced a new line of Extreme Pro CompactFlash memory cards the company says is designed for professional photographers.
To that end, SanDisk says it has outfitted its new cards with an advanced memory controller capable of boosting read and write speeds up to 90MB/s, or double the performance from previous SanDisk high-end memory cards.
"The new SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash line is the direct result of SanDisk's passion, commitment, and break-through engineering innovation to provide best-in-class flash memory cards for professional photography," said Eric Bone, vice president, retail product marketing.
In addition to raw performance, SanDisk says its Power Core Controller's firmware algorithms and 42-bit ECC engine also ensure data integrity and a longer life through optimized wear leveling.
The new Pro series will be available in capacities of 8GB to 32GB with an MSRP ranging from about $130 to $375.
We've been saying for months now that it's only a matter time before DRAM prices go back up and it will no longer be possible to pick up a high capacity kit with just the loose change in your pants pocket. That time hasn't quite come yet, but according to data by DRAMeXchange, prices for 1Gb DDR2 and 1Gb DDR3 are steadily increasing.
As it currently stands, 1Gb of DDR2 runs $1.53 while a Gb of DDR3 costs $1.66. That doesn't sound like much (and it isn't), but those prices represent increases of 8.5 percent for DDR2 and 5.1 percent for DDR3.
Meanwhile, contract prices for 2GB DDR2 and 2GB DDR3 sticks have shot up $27.50 and $29.50, respectively, in just the first half of September, and we still have the rest of the month to go.
Once again, if you've been eying a memory upgrade, you may want to bite the bullet rather than continue to play Russian Roulette with market prices.
In most cases, it's still cheaper to purchase DDR2 DIMMs than it is to invest in DDR3 memory, albeit not by very much in some cases. Citing un-named market sources, news and rumor site DigiTimes says the price gap between the two types of RAM is expected to disappear completely very soon.
As it currently stands, spot pricing for 1Gb DDR2 chips has climbed above $1.60, still lower than 1Gb DDR3 pricing, which has settled in at $1.90 and isn't moving very much. But market sources say the two segments will crossover, and do so at a price point below $2 per 1Gb chip.
If the price difference does go by the wayside, memory makers are likely to shift their focus to DDR3, where demand will be higher. This would also trickle down to PC vendors, some of which have been using DDR2 parts to cut back on costs.