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Hynix Unveils World's Fastest DRAM Chip

By Jay Lyman
Dec 18, 2006 3:48 PM PT

Semiconductor maker Hynix announced Monday that it has developed a smaller dynamic random access memory chip using a 60-nanometer process that -- at 800 MHz -- is the world's fastest. The improved DRAM reportedly delivers 1 GB capacity along with the blazing speed, which tops the performance of existing 667 Mhz DRAM chips.

Hynix Unveils World's Fastest DRAM Chip

The feat shows that Hynix, a relatively small competitor in a memory market dominated by Samsung, is nevertheless a force in the industry.

"Hynix is sometimes not all that highly regarded as a technology leader," Objective Analysis Director Jim Handy told TechNewsWorld. "Getting to 1 GB proves they're no slouch in the R&D department."

Memory Step

Hynix signaled that the new memory technology would be available in double data rate 2 (DDR2) modules in the first half of 2007.

The company -- which relied on a layered, three-dimensional architecture to create the new memory chips -- also touted the more efficient 60-nm fabrication process.

The memory's triple-metal design, which does not require stacking because of the smaller size, represents a significant advance for Hynix. "Moving to a third metal layer is a big step," Handy said.

Innovative Benefits

Handy, who said DDR2 continues to live beyond expectations, while the ramp-up to DDR3 is underway, also commented on a part of the chip manufacturing process known as the "chemical metal polish" (CMP).

Although DRAM manufacturers have avoided the technology in the past, CMP may provide some better yields for Hynix than it has for other chip makers. "It's quite possible they may be enjoying better yield than their competitors," Handy said.

DRAM Catch

The latest DRAM technology from Hynix shows industry progress, but performance is still hampered by the time required to access it and cue it, Gartner Research Vice President Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld.

"There's still this problem of access time, which isn't going to get any better," he said. Also, DRAM is almost a commodity market, and it is difficult for companies such as Hynix to differentiate their products, he noted.

"It's just a question of delivering flawlessly on the price point people want," he concluded.

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