Our Take

With all the rumor and speculation about the problems getting DDR2 out the door, it's reassuring to see the world's largest memory manufacturer announcing and shipping DDR2 DIMMs. We're looking forward to reporting how Kingston DDR2 actually performs when the boards and processors are officially announced. At least the holdup now with Intel's Socket 775 should not be the availability of DDR2 memory for the new boards. The early Kingston DDR2 modules are 512MB, but expect to quickly see 1GB DIMMs for sale as the price drops. Kingston is showing a full line of DDR2 modules, and the additional DDR2 offerings will show up quickly if the market for DDR2 takes off. If it develops slowly, as many expect, you will likely wait a while for additional DDR2 memory options.
With DDR2 widely expected to debut at about double the price of DDR, we are anxious to see how fast DDR2 will drop in price - to DDR levels. Much of that depends on how fast DDR2 is adopted by customers. As we reported in our CES coverage in January, almost all the board makers plan to ship Alderwood boards with DDR2 capabilities. Alderwood is the replacement for the 875 chipset, so this high end chipset will likely sell in smaller numbers than the Grantsdale chipset, which will replace the mainstream Intel 865 chipset. This is where the "what-if's" come in because almost every motherboard maker, except Intel, told us they planned to ship Grantsdale with DDR DIMM sockets instead of the DDR2 sockets that it also supports.

We are now hearing talk of Grantsdale boards with dual memory capabilities, and also Grantsdale with DDR2 from other motherboard manufacturers. It will be interesting to see at launch how much Intel has influenced the designs for Grantsdale motherboards from other motherboard manufacturers. Will shipping Grantsdale boards actually be mostly DDR, as we were told to expect in January, or will there be more DDR2 Grantsdale motherboards?

Early reports are that DDR2 performs about the same as current DDR, but with a lot of promise for future performance improvements. With AMD's Socket 939 coming about the same time as Intel 775 - and using dual-channel DDR, not DDR2 - there have to be some real advantages to the latest technology for customers to buy. Unless Alderwood or DDR2 offers significant performance advantages, DDR2 acceptance will come slowly. Customers will move to DDR2 only when it performs better than DDR, or performs the same and costs the same, or when it is the only memory choice available for features they want on Alderwood or Grantsdale. They won't buy just because DDR2 is new or even if it performs a little better at a much higher price. Certainly, Rambus proved that Computer Enthusiasts will not buy at any price.

Congratulations to Kingston for getting DDR2 out the door, even in limited quantities, weeks before DDR2 boards are officially available. This is a good sign of things to come. More information about Kingston DDR2 memory is available at the Kingston website.

Memory Chips: Kingston DDR2 Memory
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  • Pumpkinierre - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    With the hot, possibly speed limited (where's that 3.4?) Prescott and double cost slower memory not forgetting PCI-E costs and problems, looks like intel may have got themselves another rambus/willamette scenario. With dual channel Sckt939 newcastle, nF3-250 fron nVidia and DDR1-550 coming from Hynix, lets hope AMD can profit this time.

  • PrinceGaz - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    Although initially its sure to be both more expensive and provide little if any performance benefit over standard DDR, its clear that pairing up a bandwidth-hungry P4 processor with DDR2 memory will become the norm within a year and we'll be looking at DDR only mobos for them by then in much the same way as we considered PC100/PC133 SDRAM ones a couple of years ago.

    Its more interesting where this will leave AMD and its Athlon 64 -- presumably they need to redesign the processor to support a new faster memory-standard and that probably isn't even possible without changing the current Socket 754/939/940 to something new. Though Socket 939 isn't even here yet. While the Athlon design isn't as sensitive to memory-bandwidth as the P4, sooner or later (probably later) its sure to switch which is going to leave existing A64 owners in a dead-end. But in the meantime AMD customers should benefit from cheaper memory as well as the cheaper mobos they're used to.
  • IamTHEsnake - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    Until the price is in tone with performance DDR2 is not something I want. I'll bet the high end pc4400 DDR1 will even beat the 533ddr2
  • gherald - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    bob, they don't expect much yet. they're getting ready for when the ddr-2 chipsets *are* out.

    it would be pretty stupid to wait untill the ddr2 boards are out and *then* start looking into producing modules
  • jcsamp - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    Does anybody know what kind of difference the FBGA chips used here have with GeIL's WLCSP chips it uses on its Golden Dragon line? It seems the benefits listed in the article are similar to those GeIL reports.
  • bobsmith1492 - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    How do they expect to make money off of these if no one can use them (therefore no one would buy them) since there are no compatible motherboards (available)?
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    I'll be very interested to see a memory latency comparison when some DDR-II motherboards hit the market.

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