Samsung Electronics has begun shipping sample DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) memory chips that are two steps faster than those used in personal computers today.
The DDR400 chips use a 200MHz memory bus (the connection between the processor and memory) and can handle data-transfer rates at speeds of up to 3.2Gbps. In comparison, current DDR266 chips, which are becoming a standard feature in many desktop PCs, offer data transfer speeds of 2.1Gbps.
While Samsung has begun shipping samples of the new memory chips to customers, they are unlikely to appear in new PCs any time soon. Beyond current DDR266 chips, the industry is beginning to move to DDR333 and expects that standard to become mainstream by 2003.
Seoul-based Samsung Electronics is one of the world's largest manufacturers of memory chips. The company is already producing DDR333 chips and expects them to make up around half of all DRAM (dynamic random access memory) production this year. That proportion is expected to increase to 80 per cent in 2003 as the standard becomes more widely used.
Following the introduction of those chips, DDR memory technology in consumer PCs could go one of two ways. The DDR400 chips are the next step in the current generation of DDR. However a second-generation DDR memory technology, DDR-II, is also on the horizon. Offering higher throughput, the chips are expected to begin hitting the market in 2004, sidelining DDR400 into niche applications.