Hynix this week double-dipped into the record books by introducing the world's first and fastest 1 Gigabit GDDR5 graphics DRAM operating at 7Gb/s, a 40 percent improvement over 5Gb/s GDDR5. The new memory is built using a 54nm process and can process up to 28GB/s with a 32-bit I/O, the company claims. On a 512-bit memory bus, bandwidth should reach as high as 448GB/s.
In addition to speed, Hynix also emphasized power consumption. The new memory requires just 1.35V as opposed to 1.5V inherent in previous generation GDDR5 memory. This means that the improved GDDR5 not only bodes well for future high performance videocards, but the potential for lower heat and longer battery life could also be a boon for notebooks.
Hynix says its 1Gb GDDR5 graphics memory meets the JEDEC standard and plans to start volume production in the first half of 2009.
Dual-channel memory might not be dead, but Intel's Core i7 platform has kicked off the era of triple-channel memory kits and most manufacturers have already jumped on board. Enter Mushkin, who not only is making tri-channel DDR3 kits available, but has launched 16 different models ranging in speed from 1066MHz to 1600MHz.
998674 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-10666 6-6-6-18 1.65V
998675 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-10666 6-6-6-18 1.65V
998676 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-10666 7-7-7-20 1.5-1.6V
998677 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-10666 7-7-7-20 1.5-1.6V
998583 – 3GB (3x1GB) EM3-10666 9-9-9-24 1.5V
998585 – 6GB (3x2GB) EM3-10666 9-9-9-24 1.5V
998678 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-12800 7-8-7-20 1.65V
998679 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-12800 7-8-7-20 1.65V
998680 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-12800 8-8-8-24 1.6-1.65V
998681 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-12800 8-8-8-24 1.6-1.65V
998658 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-12800 9-9-9-27 1.5-1.6V
998659 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-12800 9-9-9-27 1.5-1.6V
998682 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-8500 6-6-6-18 1.5-1.6V
998683 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-8500 6-6-6-18 1.5-1.6V
998570 – 3GB (3x1GB) EM3-8500 7-7-7-20 1.5V
998571 – 6GB (3x2GB) EM3-8500 7-7-7-20 1.5V
"We’ve worked diligently to create parts for the Core i7 platform that push specifications to unprecedented levels while maintaining the high quality and reliability standards of our existing products," said Brian Flood, director of product development for Mushkin. "Our triple-pack customers will be rewarded with the utmost reliability from our standard rated products, and greatly increased performance from our high performance line."
Mushkin claims that each kit is hand-tested beyond its rated specification, suggesting at least a modicum of overclocking headroom. Each of the 16 kits also come bearing Mushkin's FrostByte heatspreader.
The DRAM industry is facing its toughest time in the past 15 years with not much of a light at the end of the tunnel. Most memory companies have already reduced production and scaled back the workforce, but it has done little to change the fact that DRAM prices have already dropped close to cost. Could a government bailout be the answer?
That's exactly what ProMOS chairman ML Chen wants to see happen. Chen, whose company has already suffered losses adding up to US$675 million in the first three quarters of 2008, is calling for the Taiwan government to keep the industry afloat. Total losses for the entire industry currently sit at US$2.73 billion, a number which is expected to grow in the fourth quarter.
Chen, who said it would be a pity of the government gave up on DRAM makers who have given so much to the nation's semiconductor industry, would like to see some fundamental changes occur, like the development of home-grown technologies. Chen also said that the government should offer aid programs and restricted bank loans, which could only be used for technological research and development and not for capacity expansion.
Should the Taiwan government step in? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Intel's Core i7 release hasn't just changed the processor game, it's also ushered in a new era of memory choices. Up until Core i7, power users found themselves pondering whether to slap a 2GB or 4GB kit of RAM into their system, but that was before triple-channel memory. Now the choice (for upgraders and new builders) comes down to 3GB or 6GB, and Corsair looks to shed some light on the decision by performing some in-house benchmarking.
The tests, which were performed using an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard, Core i7-965 Extreme Edition CPU, two Nvidia 280 GTX videocards in SLI, and two Seagate 320GB 7200.10 hard drives in a RAID 0 array, heavily favored the 6GB kit. Corsair's results were sometimes significant, with the minimum frame rate in World of Conflict jumping by 50 percent when upgrading from 3GB to 6GB, and netting over a 3-fold increase in Crysis Warhead. Even game loading times saw a boost.
"The analysis shows that 3GB of system memory is insufficient to run modern games, such as Warhammer Online and Crysis Warhead, resulting in poor performance," Corsair wrote (PDF). "The lack of memory when using 3GB of RAM results in increased hard disk drive access, sometimes called thrashing. This causes in-game stuttering, which reduces the minimum frame rate."
This isn't the first time Corsair has released internal benchmarks. Previously, the memory maker found that upgrading from 2GB to 4GB provided "significant performance benefits." This time around, Corsair says "the message to enthusiasts who are looking to build a Core i7 system for gaming is clear - installing 6GB of memory will provide significantly higher frame rates and a considerably smoother gaming experience."
Thoughts on Corsair's testing methodology or results? Hit the jump and let us know.
PC builders continue to jump for joy at the rock bottom prices of memory, leading to an easy decision to go with a 4GB kit in lieu of a 2GB kit of RAM. Never has memory been so cheap, and some say the market for memory makers is the worst it has been in 15 years.
And therein lies the problem. While end users are celebrating low prices, DRAM makers have been cutting back production, reducing workers' hours, and laying off employees all in an attempt drive prices back up and cope with decreased revenue. But it isn't enough, and now it appears that memory makers have reached a crossroads.
"We believe that the DRAM industry has entered the key adjusting stage of 'reduce or retire,'" DRAMeXchange stated. "The big scale reduction is now in progress and even some DRAM vendors will be out of the DRAM market in 2009. This adjusting wave will continue until the demand and supply come to balance."
According to DRAMeXchange, the cash cost of the market's 70nm technology is between $1.3 and $1.5 and is expected to drop to $1.0 to $1.2 as DRAM makers migrate to the 6x nm process. Total 12-inch wafer output continues to fall, with the reduction for November expected to be 125,000 less wafers, which is equivalent to 10 percent of the total 12-inch wafer output. The situation looks to get even worse in December, with another 17,000-wafer reduction expected, with more reductions possible in January.
"We expect the oversupply situation will be eased starting from the end of Q1 2009," DRAMeXchange said. "Therefore, the DRAM price may have a chance to rebound at the end of Q2 09 and Q3 09 with the rising demand of PC OEMS."
The question is, which memory makers will be left standing by then?
With Intel's Core i7 launch now less than a month away, several memory vendors are readying three-packs of RAM in anticipation of the new platform's triple-channel memory support. Companies like Corsair, OCZ, and G.Skill have all jumped on board, but Kingston looks to leapfrog to the front of the pack as the first, and so far only company to release triple-channel memory clocked at 2GHz.
"Kingston is excited to bring the fastest DDR3 triple-channel memory products to market as we are the first to deliver 2000MHz gaming kits of three with Intel's reduced voltage," said Mark Tekunoff, senior technology manager at Kingston. "All of our triple-channel kits can be overclocked manually or by using XMP-ready profiles."
Kingston's triple channel memory kits will run the gamut from the aforementioned 2GHz enthusiast HyperX range all the way down to the company's budget ValueRAM lineup:
With rumors swirling of performance DDR3 memory not playing nice with Core i7 platforms due to voltage requirements, it's not a bad idea to wait for specifically compatible kits to emerge before upgrading your RAM. In addition to getting the voltage right, upcoming triple-channel kits will ship with three sticks of RAM to take advantage of the new architecture.
First out of the gate with a line of triple-channel kits is Corsair, who today announced no less than six high performance kits designed for Core i7. These include:
6GB kit 1866MHz Dominator with Airflow fan (TR3X6G1866C9DF - $475
3GB kit 1866MHz Dominator with Airflow fan (TR3X3G1866C9DF) - $250
6GB kit 1600MHz Dominator (TR3X6G1600C8D) - $300
3GB kit 1600MHz Dominator (TR3X3G1600C8D) - $175
6GB kit 1333MHz (TR3X6G1333C9) - $230
3GB kit 1333MHz (TR3X3G1333C9) - $120
Latency timings and voltage information is still trickling out for many of the kits. Corsair's press release indicates the kits are available now, though we've been unable to spot them in the wild. We imagine the usual culprits (Newegg, ZipZoomFly, TigerDirect, etc.) will show stock very soon.
Building a capable PC has turned into a stupid-cheap affair as components continue to fall in price. This is helped in large part by slumping DRAM pricing, which has yet to recover no matter how much DRAM makers would like it to. And it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
According to Frank Huang, chairman of Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC), memory chip prices will continue to sag so long as the economy struggles, and isn't expected to start an upward swing until at least the second half 2009. Huang pointed out that DRAM prices have already dropped close to cost, forcing manufacturers to cut production. But despite a 20 percent production decrease by the end of the year, the effects on the market won't be seen until December, which will fall well shy of a rebound in DRAM pricing.
Take advantage of the low prices while you can, but if Huang's assessment proves correct, you needn't feel rushed.
Only two companies - Crucial and Corsair - offer system RAM outfitted with activity-indicating LEDs, and of those two, Crucial becomes to the first to port the light show over to DDR3 modules. The kit in question is the Ballistix Tracer PC3-10600, and like previous Tracer models, the DDR3 version sports red and green LEDs running along the top in between the black aluminum heatspreaders.
The new kit needs 1.8V to run at its default 1,333MHz frequency with 6-6-6-20 timings. Normally that wouldn't be cause for concern, but as we learned yesterday, Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may not play nice with performance memory requiring more than 1.65V and could actually damage the processor. Following the press release of Crucial's new modules, TomsHardware got in touch with Lexar regarding future compatibility, who had this to say:
“We’re working closely with Intel and other motherboard manufacturers,” said the Lexar spokesperson, “to ensure we have Crucial memory products that support the upcoming platforms and technology. We haven’t finalized our products to date, so we’re not able to share specific product details at this point in time. We’re confident we’ll have Crucial products that support these new, upcoming platforms.”
One of the first questions new system builders ask centers around the amount of RAM to invest in, and it wasn't very long ago when the decision came down to 1GB or 2GB. With the emergence of Vista, and particularly the 64-bit version, the big question now is whether or not to go with 4GB. How long will it be before we see 16GB rigs in quantity?
It could be sooner than you think, and at least one company has already begun preparations. Samsung said it has started sampling 50nm DDR3 devices that ultimately will enable memory modules up to 16GB in capacity. The samples consist of 2Gb (that's lowercase 'b') chips with double the density of current 1Gb parts, while also cutting back on power by over 40 percent.
According to Samsung, the new small form factor paves the way for 8GB RIMMs and 4GB SODIMMs, equating to 16GB and 8GB respectively in dual-die packages. Next up - finding mainstream applications capable of feasting on hordes of memory.
Samsung said it will begin mass producing the 2Gb chips by the end of the year and make 2Gb DDR3 its primary DRAM process technology in 2009. As for pricing? We'll have to wait and see.