Samsung is set to introduce the world's fastest memory for multimedia applications. The company claimed that workstations and servers using its 256MB XDR DRAM would cut through applications faster than existing RAM. It said that XDR (eXtreme Data Rate) memory is ten times faster than DDR 400 memory and five times faster than RDRAM (PC800).

Samsung said its RAM chips are so fast because it was using DRSL - Differential Rambus Signal Level - technology to transfer data stably at very high speeds. An Octal Data Rate process moves data at 8 bits per clock cycle. The transfer speed is 8GB/s. DDR 400 memory achieves 0.8GB/s whilst RDRAM moves data at 1.6GB/s.

Current GDDR3 memory with a 1.6GHz cycle rate, moves data at 50GB/s. Adding XDR DRAM to such a system results in a 256GB/s bandwidth, five times faster.

The Rambus-developed technology currently runs at 2.4GHz and Rambus intends to increase this in steps of 800Hz up to 8GHz.

In the first half of this year Samsung aims to ratchet capacity and speed up by delivering a 512MB XDR DRAM chip with a blazing 12.8GB/s transfer speed, slightly more than half as fast again.

Applications involving many CPU cycles of work on large video and video/audio files will see the most benefit from this, although any memory-bound application will receive a boost.

"XDR technology has tremendous potential to become a leading memory solution for today's highest-performance multimedia applications and we're quite enthusiastic about its prospects," said Mueez Deen, marketing director, graphics memory, Samsung Semiconductor.

IDC agrees. It thinks global XDR DRAM shipments will exceed 800 million 256Mbit-equivalent units by 2009. This growth may include general desktop use of XDR memory after 2006. However, this will be dependent on pricing.

Also, RDRAM, introduced in 2000, although an improvement on the then current SDRAM, failed to capture much market because DRAM suppliers developed competing technologies. Rambus sued several suppliers for patent infringements and is now making progress in these cases, as we have reported. This time around it needs DRAM manufacturers to license its technology if the IDC predictions are to be met.