PCs, notebooks to get a memory speed boost

New chipsets allowing for faster memory are on the way late this month
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

New parts allowing mainstream PCs and notebooks to support a next-generation memory type are on the way for AMD and Intel processors as early as this month.

Several semiconductor manufacturers have announced plans to build chipsets for Intel and AMD processors that support Double Data Rate SDRAM, or DDR SDRAM, which allows high-powered computers to access memory faster than with conventional SDRAM memory.

AMD, Via Technologies and Acer Laboratories will begin volume production on the DDR chipsets late in September, according to a report on The China Times' Ctech Web site.

A chipset is a series of semiconductors that connect the processor to PC components such as memory and input/output devices.

A motherboard based on AMD's DDR chipset will be available from Gigabyte in October, according to the report. Asus and MSI will also release DDR motherboards in October.

Memory access speed has increasingly become a bottleneck for the fastest PCs, as chip speeds have surpassed the 1GHz mark. The arrival of DDR will give users a way out of the bottleneck, and will also increase pressure on Rambus, which is supplying a rival high-speed memory to be used mainly with Intel chips.

SDRAM provides up to 1.1Gbit/s data transfer, and DDR SDRAM doubles the rate to 2.2GBit/s.

Acer will first release an AMD-compatible chipset, followed by one designed for Intel chips. Via's first chipset will be for Intel, with an AMD chipset following a month later, according to the report. Intel is unable to manufacture its own DDR chipsets because of a contractual obligation to Rambus.

Acer announced its DDR chipset early last month. Via has been the most aggressive in its DDR plans, however, saying it will manufacture a DDR chipset for Intel's Pentium 4 with or without a license from Intel.

DDR chipsets have also been announced by Micron Technology and Silicon Integrated Systems.

Acer's Intel desktop DDR chipset, the Aladdin Pro 5, will cost $33 in 20,000-unit lots. The Aladdin Pro 5M for mobile PCs is $38. Acer's DDR chipset for AMD desktop processors, the ALIMagik 1, is $31 in 20,000-unit quantities. The chipset for AMD notebooks, called the MobileMagik 1, will cost $36.

See Chips Central for daily hardware news, including an interactive timeline of AMD and Intel's upcoming product launches.

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