In the days of SDRAM 133 and 150 when Samsung chips were King-of-the-Hill, a Taiwanese manufacturer named Kingmax made quite a splash with what they called their "tiny BGA" memory modules. BGA stands for "Ball Grid Array" and it describes a memory chip much smaller than the traditional memory chips available from other memory manufacturers. It also describes an attachment technology that promises higher performance. The promise, of course, was smaller DIMMs that run cooler and faster than traditional DIMMs.

Those early Kingmax SDRAM were some of the best memory that you could buy, and Kingmax later joined a small group of memory manufacturers in being the first to bring DDR333 memory to market using the same "tiny BGA" technology. However, the transition to DDR was not as smooth as Kingmax had hoped. The company suffered from large variations in the performance of their tiny BGA memory, with some modules setting new performance records and others falling far short in the performance arena.

Kingmax has continued making performance memory with their "Super RAM" series based on the same TSOP technology used by everyone else, but they basically disappeared from the US screen for a while, at least as far as visibility to the computer enthusiast is concerned. Their DDR433 TSOP memory was competitive, but brought nothing really new to the memory market. With companies like Corsair, Kingston, Mushkin, and OCZ dominating Enthusiast Memory sales, Kingmax was competent, but had nothing to make it stand out from the crowd.

This is not to say that Kingmax disappeared. Readers in the US may not be that familiar with Kingmax, but our readers in Asia will likely know the company well. Kingmax is a very large Asian memory provider, and in Asia, they have the same kind of presence that Micron, for example, has in the US. Kingmax has continued providing memory of all types to their market, but with the new DDR500 and DDR466 memory, Kingmax is back in the Computer Enthusiast picture again. Instead of extending memory speeds to DDR466 and DDR500 with standard "me-too" TSOP memory, Kingmax has gone back to their trademark BGA memory to bring their "Hardcore Series" memory to market. With the promise of a very small size, cool operation, and breakthrough performance, we were anxious to take the new Kingmax Hardcore for a spin.

What Is Tiny BGA?
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  • bldkc - Friday, March 12, 2004 - link

    By the way could you guys please start highlighting the item being tested in the graphs with a different colored bar or even different color text for the name (or both)? It makes it very difficult to find the product you are testing if I have to read every name on the graph just to find one of them. Reply
  • bldkc - Friday, March 12, 2004 - link

    Wow, don't buy the DDR466! On page 6 it took 1114 seconds to complete! Okay, it's a typo, but still.
    #10-If you wear a thinner coat outside you won't stay as warm as if you wear a thick one. The same thing with chips.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    #11 - Corrected.

    #10 - BGA chips are both much smaller and thinner than TSOP chips. The electrical connections are also much shorter, generating less heat to start with than TSOP chips. I have seen data supporting 80 to 85% heat dissipation with BGA chips.
    Reply
  • Shalmanese - Thursday, March 11, 2004 - link

    I sure hope Kingmax didn't provide you with 512K chips of RAM ;). (top of pg3) Reply
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    What is it exactly about BGA chips that make them run cooler than TSOP chips? There's the size difference of course, but that doesn't account for the temp difference, does it? Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    It's good to see this from Kingmax... I've been wondering for quite some time now why video cards have had DDR500 memory for a few years, and it hasn't made it's way into system RAM. Now we have RAM on video cards capable of DDR1000... why can't we get similar results with system RAM? Reply
  • Inferno - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    Something everyone may want to note, if you decrease voltage on the Kingmax sometimes that yeilds better O/Cs then raising it. I have owned alot of Kingmax TinyBGA and it usually responds negativly to more voltage. They also do benifit from heat spreaders when pushed hard and kept at default voltage. Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    Good article but still more of the same. It seems like 18month old Winbond BH5 and now these BGA chips are the fastest at DDR400-433. However, are there any hints of a DDR466-500 at low latencies (CAS2) out there? I mean graphics cards have got 256Mb of <3ns DDR (dont know the latencies) so why arent the memory manufacturers using that?

    Xtreme DDR have got some PC3700+ at 2-3-3-6 using picked 5ns Samsung chips (http://www.xtremeddr.com/products/x_pc3700+.shtml)... They quote 2T command rate and some i875 mobo compatibility, which is counter to the Mushkin website advice that intel dual bank chipsets force 1T timings, and memory rated above 1T could be unstable. Perhaps you might get a coupla sticks of that and put them through your test procedure?
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    Evan,

    We have achieved ludicris speed, overshot the winnebago, and gone to plaid.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - link

    BGA is the new standard on DDR2. I welcome the change.

    Kristopher
    Reply

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