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jmke 21st April 2004 11:57

Taiwanese Memory Makers Outline DDR2 Strategy: No Inexpensive DDR2 to Come Soon
With pretty rare exceptions, Taiwan-based memory makers are not jumping on DDR2 bandwagon straight away because of fear for bottlenecks with production using thin and advanced fabrication processes. However, we may still expect them to come up with commercial DDR2 products this year.

Even though DRAM producers are likely to enjoy pretty high pricing of DDR2 (DDR-II) components – about 20% to 30% more compared to DDR – some are concerned about pretty tight supply of such chips because of bottlenecks with 0.11 micron process technology, DigiTimes web-site reported.

There is also an issue with memory packaging and testing firms in Taiwan, who are currently reluctant to buy tools for DDR2 packaging and testing due to their concerns about the DRAM makers’ production ramp up

Meanwhile Taiwanese memory makers themselves are not that aggressive with DDR2 ramp because of numerous reasons. Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) will begin pilot production of Intel-validated DDR2 for Elpida in the Q3 2004; Nanya Technology is also validating its memory chips with Intel, therefore, actual shipments are likely to begin in Q3/Q4 only; ProMOS Technologies expects to begin pilot runs in the Q4 2004 only; TwinMOS was the first to announce DDR2 in Taiwan, who is expected to come up with its chips and modules at the time when DDR2-based platforms are available in June, 2004.

TwinMOS and PSC use 0.10 micron fabrication process for DDR2 memory chips, Nanya and ProMOS utilise 0.11 micron process technology.

Besides possible technology issues, there may be a demand issue. Customers may not bite expensive DDR2 immediately after the launch, especially in situation when the upcoming platforms support both types of memory. When the demand for DDR2 picks up, all memory makers will head to produce the new type of DRAM for personal computers.

While Taiwanese memory manufacturers do not command the lion’s share of the world’s DRAM market, they have been playing a key-role in acceleration the natural process of decreasing DDR memory prices. In case Taiwan-based DRAM makers are able to supply significant volumes of DDR2, the cost of such memory modules is likely to reduce already this year.

DDR2 will be initially available at 400MHz and 533MHz speed-bins. So far Intel has validated DDR2 memory chips from Samsung Electronics, Hynix, Elpida, Micron Technology and Infineon.

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