Samsung Touts Smaller Scale DDR2 Manufacturing Process

South Korean electronics giantSamsung announced that it will mass produce DDR2 DRAM memory using the smaller-scale, 80-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process. The move promises to boost efficiency both for Samsung and its DDR2 customers, who use the computer memory mainly in PCs.

The shift comes as the demand for DDR2 increases, Samsung said, driven primarily by chip makers includingIntel and AMD. The use of a three-dimensional transistor layout that enhances refresh rate — described as a critical element ofdata storage — enables the process.

Offering the new DDR2 features, considered positive advances in DRAM technology, is a logical step for Samsung as it seeks to maintain its market position.

“These are just incremental improvements,” Gartner Research Vice President Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld. “This is what you have to do to remain competitive.”

Shrinking Memory

The ability to mass produce 512 Megabit DDR2 at the 80-nm scale will allow Samsung to boost its manufacturing productivity by 50 percent compared to the previous, 90-nm process, the company said.

The move to 80-nm has become possible largely due to the use of what is known as a recess channel array transistor (RCAT), a three-dimensional transistor design aimed at boosting refresh rate, according to Samsung.

“With the demand for DDR2 at its highest level since it made its market debut in 2004, our 80-nm technology provides us with the ability to more efficiently support the sustained demand growth that is expected in the DDR2 marketplace this year,” said Samsung DRAM Marketing Director Tom Trill.

Crossover Point

Intel and AMD are moving away from DDR1 and toward DDR2, and demand is accelerating as the crossover to the newer memory technology takes place, Mercury Research President Dean McCarron told TechNewsWorld.

“Overall, the PC market is making — and has been making — that switch to the point that DDR2 is more important than DDR1,” he said. “Demand is coming up very, very rapidly in DDR2.”

The RCAT three-dimensional technology Samsung used to achieve the 80-nm process is likely an indicator of things to come, McCarron added, noting that more memory density demands it.

Smaller Prices Too?

The new DDR2 technology will allow Samsung to more efficiently produce the DRAM memory and may mean more of it available in the market, which could also drop prices, Gartner’s Reynolds said.

The growth of PCs, particularly notebooks, will help drive more demand, he added, an indication the technology — including the three-dimensional transistor layout — is evolving and improving as needed.

“It’s so easy to keep this stuff moving,” Reynolds said. “There’s always room for improvement in DRAM, especially when you’re changing geometries.”

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