Samsung unveils customized Rambus DRAMs

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has taken the wraps off three Rambus DRAM (dynamic random access memory) memory modules targeted at specific markets – networking, servers and high-end personal computers – marking a move from the current one-size-fits-all strategy as the competition at the high end of the memory market increases.

Each of the three modules has been designed to best perform in its target application, said Samsung.

For example, the server and high-end PC modules are capable of storing 512M bytes of data and have four input/output channels in place of one. This means data can be shifted at a rate of 6.4G bytes per second – something that is important if the machine is performing complex modeling applications or processing digital video. The networking modules are available in 64M byte and 128M byte versions because such applications do not require as much memory as PCs, said Samsung.

Samsung’s move to target individual markets is not surprising. The company is already the largest producer of Rambus DRAM chips in the world and has stated an intention to remain on the leading edge of the business, having exited the commodity memory chip business to try to insulate itself from the ups and downs of that market.

The company predicts the market for these devices will reach 20 million units this year, based on a 128M byte per module unit.

Rambus Inc., the U.S. company that developed the proprietary memory interface technology used in the chips but makes no chips itself, has been pushing for a little over six months the idea that its chips are suited to applications outside of its current core markets of workstations and high-end personal computers. The new chips will help it sell this idea to networking equipment vendors.

At the Comdex computer show in Las Vegas in November last year, Avo Kanadjian, vice-president of Rambus worldwide marketing, told IDG News Service the company is looking to the burgeoning networking and digital television markets.

Rambus DRAM’s biggest rival technology in the PC market, DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory) is also being promoted for use in networking equipment, and other technologies are on the horizon. Samsung, together with NEC Corp., Cypress Semiconductor Corp., IDT Inc. and Micron Technology Inc., is developing QDR (quad data rate) technology specifically for use in networking routers and switches.

Samsung Electronics, in Seoul, can be contacted at