SAMSUNG TAKES DRAM 512-pins wide

LONDON – Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has announced the development of a 1-Gbit DRAM with a 512-pin wide I/O interface intended for mobile applications such as smartphones and tablet computers.

The chip is implemented in a manufacturing process technology somewhere between 50- and 59-nm and Samsung is also due to present a paper related to wide I/O DRAM technology at the 2011 International Solid-State Circuits Conference being held from February 20 to 24 in San Francisco.

To boost data transmission, the wide-I/O DRAM uses 512 pins for data input and output compared to the previous generation of mobile DRAMs, which used a maximum of 32 pins. Including pins for commands and power supply and its regulation the WIO DRAM is designed to have ip to 1,200 pins.

Samsung did not indicate whether it intends to offer the 1-Gbit WIO DRAM as a packaged part or to use it as a bare die in multi-chip packages. Nor did Samsung state when engineering samples of the 1-Gbit WIO DRAM would be available or it would be in volume production.

Nonetheless, as a result of the extreme I/O the 1-Gbit WIO DRAM can transmit data at 12.8-Gbytes per second, increasing the bandwidth of mobile DDR DRAM eightfold, while reducing power consumption by approximately 87 percent. The bandwidth is also four times that of LPDDR2 DRAM, which is approximately 3.2-Gigabytes per second, Samsung said.

To follow on from the WIO DRAM launch Samsung is planning for a 20-nm class 4-Gbit WIO mobile DRAM to become available in 2013,

"Following the development of 4-Gbit LPDDR2 DRAM last year, our new mobile DRAM solution with a wide I/O interface represents a significant contribution to the advancement of high-performance mobile products," said Byungse So, senior vice president, memory product planning and application engineering at Samsung Electronics, in a statement.

Samsung extends lead in DRAMs

DRAM revenue for the South Korean company in the fourth quarter of 2010 amounted to $3.6 billion, equivalent to 41.7 percent share of an $8.7 billion market, according to the firm. Samsung’s share rose 1 percentage point compared to the third quarter, according to the report.

Samsung’s performance was in direct contrast to a declining DRAM market, in which average selling prices (ASP) tumbled more than 28 percent in the final quarter of 2010, IHS iSuppli research shows.

“Samsung succeeded in picking up more business thanks to an astute playbook marked by a diverse product portfolio that hedged against excessive ASP declines, as well as an aggressive budget for capital expenditure that made sure the company’s shipments kept pace with the competition,” said Mike Howard, principal analyst for DRAM and memory at IHS, in a statement.

No. 2 Hynix Semiconductor Inc. of South Korea has held approximately 22.0 percent market share for eight consecutive quarters. And third-ranked Elpida Memory Inc. of Japan, which suffered the biggest drop in revenue in the fourth quarter, down 35 percent to $1.1 billion and 13.0 percent share.

Micron finally began to see significant shipments being counted from its purchase of a stake in Taiwan’s Inotera Memories a few years ago. Micron’s market share edged up to 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 10.5 percent in the third quarter.

Still, it's a mixed picture for DRAMs. ''Memory orders remain skittish, mainly due to the uncertainty in the DRAM market,'' according to a report from VLSI Research.

''The positive is that Intel’s (chip) recall has had very little impact on the PC market,'' according to the report. ''Top notebook manufacturers are reporting stable market conditions and expect shipments to decline only 2 percent in Q1. While this is better than the typical seasonal drop of Q1, it’s coming off a low base in Q4. Although table proliferation remains a concern, notebook manufacturers expect to see further improvement in Q2.  Shipments are projected to increase 15-20 percent sequentially, almost 5 percentage points higher than the average growth of Q2.''

Prices are up. ''The overall spot price-per-bit for DRAM rose for the third straight week, this time by 1.4 percent. The increase was driven primarily by non-branded DDR3 in what was a fairly quiet week,'' according to the report. On the other hand, ''NAND flash extended its streak to the thirteenth consecutive week as the overall spot price-per-bit rose by another 2.6 percent.''

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