Samsung Electronics develops cheaper Rambus DRAM

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said Wednesday it has developed a new Rambus DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chip that costs 20 per cent less to produce than do current chips.

Samsung said it managed to reduce the cost by changing the internal configuration of the chip. The new devices are organized into four banks rather than the 32-bank configuration, used until now, and are produced using 0.17-micron production technology. Because of the new technology, the circuit layout is optimized and the chip size is reduced by about five per cent, said Samsung in a statement.

Rambus DRAM chips use a proprietary memory interface technology developed by Rambus Inc. to speed data transfer in and out of the chips and are aimed at high-end personal computer systems, however, their price has been a sticking point in the move toward greater use.

The chips currently cost about three times as much as comparable synchronous DRAM chips. A 128M bit Rambus DRAM chip currently sells for between 2,500 yen and 3,000 yen (US$20.90 and $25.10), according to the latest data from Japanese semiconductor suppliers collected by the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun newspaper. A comparable synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) costs 800 yen to 850 yen, according to the report.

“Currently, in the Rambus 128M bit market, there are two guys. One is Toshiba (Corp.) and one is Samsung. I think this means that Samsung will be very aggressive in the high-end market and they want to be the number one in the market,” said S.K. Kim, a memory market analyst at International Data Corp. in Seoul. (International Data Group, the parent company of the IDG News Service, owns IDC.)

Samsung said it would begin mass production of the new chips in the second half of this year and plans to target them at the middle-range and low-end personal computer markets. The company is the world’s largest manufacturer of Rambus DRAM chips and one of a handful of major chipmakers that produces the devices.

Samsung Electronics, in Seoul, can be contacted at