Ultimate Memory Guide. 5.2. MAJOR CHIP TECHNOLOGIES

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It's usually pretty easy to tell memory module form factors apart because of physical differences. Most module form factors can support various memory technologies so, it's possible for two modules to appear to be the same when, in fact, they're not. For example, a 168-pin DIMM can be used for EDO, Synchronous DRAM, or some other type of memory. The only way to tell precisely what kind of memory a module contains is to interpret the marking on the chips. Each DRAM chip manufacturer has different markings and part numbers to identify the chip technology.


At one time, FPM was the most common form of DRAM found in computers. In fact, it was so common that people simply called it "DRAM," leaving off the "FPM". FPM offered an advantage over earlier memory technologies because it enabled faster access to data located within the same row.


In 1995, EDO became the next memory innovation. It was similar to FPM, but with a slight modification that allowed consecutive memory accesses to occur much faster. This meant the memory controller could save time by cutting out a few steps in the addressing process. EDO enabled the CPU to access memory 10 to 15% faster than with FPM.


In late 1996, SDRAM began to appear in systems. Unlike previous technologies, SDRAM is designed to synchronize itself with the timing of the CPU. This enables the memory controller to know the exact clock cycle when the requested data will be ready, so the CPU no longer has to wait between memory accesses. SDRAM chips also take advantage of interleaving and burst mode functions, which make memory retrieval even faster. SDRAM modules come in several different speeds so as to synchronize to the clock speeds of the systems they'll be used in. For example, PC66 SDRAM runs at 66MHz, PC100 SDRAM runs at 100MHz, PC133 SDRAM runs at 133MHz, and so on. Faster SDRAM speeds such as 200MHz and 266MHz are currently in development.


DDR SDRAM, is a next-generation SDRAM technology. It allows the memory chip to perform transactions on both the rising and falling edges of the clock cycle. For example, with DDR SDRAM, a 100 or 133MHz memory bus clock rate yields an effective data rate of 200MHz or 266MHz. Systems using DDR SDRAM are expected to ship at the end of the year 2000.


Direct Rambus is a new DRAM architecture and interface standard that challenges traditional main memory designs. Direct Rambus technology is extraordinarily fast compared to older memory technologies. It transfers data at speeds up to 800MHz over a narrow 16-bit bus called a Direct Rambus Channel. This high-speed clock rate is possible due to a feature called "double clocked," which allows operations to occur on both the rising and falling edges of the clock cycle. Also, each memory device on an RDRAM module provides up to 1.6 gigabytes per second of bandwidth - twice the bandwidth available with current 100MHz SDRAM.

In addition to chip technologies designed for use in main memory, there are also specialty memory technologies that have been developed for video applications.

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