Walking down memory lane

Walking down memory lane

Memory vendor Kingmax officially launched its new SDRAM memory module, the PC-150, at the Interact IT 2000 conference held in Melbourne last week.

The new module, which utilises Kingmax's TinyBGA technology, will provide a cost-effective way to bridge the performance gap as PCs and workstation performance skyrockets, according to memory product manager John Shu.

"The market is being driven by high-performance workstations," he said. "A year ago we were talking about 500MHz machines - now they are sort of obsolete."

The TinyBGA module does away with traditional Thin Small Outlined Packaging (TSOP) and with it many of the packaging issues associated with running memory at increasingly high speeds.

"TSOP is not the ideal high-speed DRAM package," Shu said. "It is not a perfect solution anymore. The package doesn't run well with heat."

With both the business and consumer markets tending towards portability, a smaller form factor is becoming increasingly critical, he said. The TinyBGA footprint can reach more than half the size of its TSOP counterpart.

Top spot

Aiming to gain the number one DRAM module spot in Australia by 2002, Kingmax is also working on turnaround time. The company boasts a time of five days from wafer to module to market.

Standards within the memory market are currently being fought out in the marketplace, with Intel putting its support behind Rambus memory (RDRAM) and many applications using double data rate (DDR) SDRAM. Shu predicts DDR will be the standard by Q4 and the major form of memory by 2001. Kingmax has been a RAMBUS developer since 1998 and is currently developing a flip-chip direct chip assembly package. However, Shu said initial latency of RDRAM could be high and the market would be limited by cost.

"Memory is a very price-driven market," Shu said.

He said DDR would have future applications in the burgeoning Internet Appliance Industry.

"The consumer PC market is changing everything. I don't see Rambus memory making an impact in the market at this stage, but in this business that can change rapidly."

Pricing for the PC-150 memory module will be compatible with the PC-133, said Kingmax senior marketing manager Yvonne Chen.

"It will be around 5 per cent higher than current modules, which is a very competitive price point."

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