New DDR4 memory will have a 30 percent price premium over DDR3 next year

30/09/2013 16:29

With new DDR4 memory, computers will be faster next year but users will likely pay a premium on the price of the technology.

DDR4 will first go into servers early next year and then into clients like laptops and desktops in 2015, said Mike Howard, principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. DDR4 will succeed DDR3 SDRAM, which ships with most computers today.

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Laptops will get longer battery life and be faster with DDR4 memory. DDR4 has 50 percent more bandwidth than its predecessor, and also provides 35 percent power savings. The voltage supplied to DDR4 memory is 1.2 volts compared to 1.5 volts for DDR3. The DDR4 bus clock speed will top out at 3200MHz, an improvement from 2400MHz for DDR3.

Buyers will pay a 30 percent or higher premium for DDR4 memory compared to DDR3 next year, though the price differential is expected to decline to around 10 percent in 2015, Howard said. Starting in 2016, DDR4 shipments will outpace DDR3, which will ultimately fade away just like the older DDR2 memory.

The adoption of DDR4 has been delayed due to the decline in the PC market and price stabilization this year of DDR3 memory, whose prices had been falling by double digits in previous years. Happy with DDR3 margins, companies like Samsung and SK Hynix shifted manufacturing capacity to make mobile memory for smartphones and tablets, which are growing markets.

Chip makers like Intel also delayed support for the new memory, though Howard said chipset manufacturers' support for DDR4 could be announced as soon as next year's second quarter.

The first DDR4 test samples shipped in 2011 from manufacturers Micron and Samsung, which have been pushing Intel and Advanced Micro Devices to add chipset support for the new memory. The DDR4 specification was published by JEDEC Solid State Technology Association in September 2012.

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