Samsung Starts 10nm-Class DDR4 Mass Production

Much of the focus on process technology has been on GPUs and CPUs. However, there are many other products where semiconductors are needed, among them DRAM. Samsung has been and continues to be one of the leaders in DRAM production and have moved on the next process node with DDR4. According to Samsung, they have started production of DRR4 using the latest “10nm Class” process.

Samsung isn’t always the most forthcoming about their process technology so all 10nm class means is that it is below 20nm. In addition to the reduced size and increased density, the new DRAM modules also feature 8Gb capacity and run at DDR4-3200 speeds. They are also 10-20% more power efficient than current 20nm DDR4 modules. While ram power consumption isn’t a large sahre, every bit helps when you’re talking about servers and mobile devices.

Using a 300mm wafer, the new DRAM is 30% more effiecent which means DDR4 prices should fall once Samsung ramps up their 10nm class production. Samsung has also changed their DRAM design so higher speeds should be easier to come by in the future. DDR4 has just really gotten going and it looks like we’ll be seeing plenty of advancement in the years to come.

Samsung kicks off HBM2 Mass Production

With both AMD’s Polaris and Nvidia’s Pascal both launching in 2016, the GPU market is very lively this year. Both competing platforms are also set to use HBM2 which JEDEC finally released the final standard for. Within days of JEDEC’s release, Samsung has just started mass production of their HBM2 memory chips.

Starting off with 4GB, Samsung’s HBM2 uses their advanced 20nm process. Each HBM2 package stacks four 8Gb core dies on top of a buffer die at the bottom. Each of these packages will offer 256 GB/s of bandwidth, quadruple that of HBM1. For a more dramatic comparison, each 4Gb GDDR5 die only offers 1/7 the memory bandwidth and 1/2 the energy efficiency. HBM2 also has 5000 TSV (Through Silicon Via), 36x more than what GDDR5 has.

Just like HBM1 did for AMD’s Fury lineup, Samsung is expecting HBM2 to bring 95% space savings compared to GDDR5. In addition to regular HBM2, Samsung is also planning HBM2 with ECC, likely for GPGPU and enterprise work. This means not only will consumer GPUs get numerous benefits, but GPUs found in supercomputers and data centers will soon have HBM2 as well, where it is arguably more useful. Samsung is expecting to continue to ramp up production as demand increases over the year.

Micron Forecasts Surprise Loss In Current Quarter

Being one of the biggest DRAM and NAND manufacturers in the market, Micron have chugged along steadily, with the rise of smartphones and tablets helping offset the losses on the PC side. This is set to change very soon though with them forecasting a loss in the current quarter (Q4 2015), the first in a long while. The loss comes due to the naturally weak first quarter of the year, increased investments, pricing pressure and low demand.

Overall, they are expecting to lose between $50 to $120 million, or about 5-12 cents per share. This comes as revenues are expected to fall about $200 million short of analysts expectations. This comes after the company have made a number of acquisitions including Tidal Systems for their SSD controller and Inotera for their DRAM business. Micron is also investing heavily into TLC NAND, 3D XPoint and 3D NAND so it’s not as bad as it first may seem as the investments will hamper their fiscal results, but ultimately should pay off if the investments go as expected.

Coupled with the expected low PC demand, they are also facing heavy pricing pressure from competitors that has led huge price drops for both SSDs and DDR4 over the past few months. This is great news for consumers making DDR4 based systems much more affordable and open to a mini price-war involving Micron and their competitors. With increasing expenses in a time of falling revenues, it’s not surprising that Micron is facing some immediate trouble. The incoming investments though should help bump Micron back into the black soon enough and we will be monitoring this story closely as it develops in the near future.

Do you own any Micron products yourself? The company portfolio includes Crucial for consumer based memory and storage, Micron themselves for enterprise and business class products and Lexar Media who manufacturer flash memory for cameras and recording equipment.

Intel Projects 100TB+ SSDs by 2019

Intel IDF 2015 is the gift that just keeps on giving. We’re still going through all the information Intel released during the event and now we have a prediction on the future of SSDs. As many of you know, Intel is quite active in the SSD market, with their enterprise and consumer drives. Intel also has a stake in IMFT, a joint venture with Micron to produce NAND. Given this, Intel is projecting that SSDs will be over 30TB by 2018 and surpass 100TB in 2019. Compared to Toshiba’s expectations, these are pretty conservative.

In order to drive demand for such huge drives, Intel is expecting datacentres and the enterprise segment to adopt more and more flash storage. Right now, SSDs are generally only used to cache “hot” data, with the majority of storage still being hard drives. As workloads change, Intel is expecting SSDs to be used more and more as speed and latency become more important and replace hard drives for data storage. Another aspect is that as NVMe gains traction, the reduced overhead and better speeds/latency will further exaggerate the differences between SSDs and HDDs.

With the arrival of 3D Xpoint and faster 3D NAND technologies, it looks like Intel is planning on moving SSDs to both replace some of what DRAM does while also replacing hard drives. With SSDs taking the consumer and enterprise segments by storm, hard disk drive manufacturers should probably hurry with their HAMR developments. Even if SSDs are wildly successful, I don’t see hard drives disappearing just yet as long as they can compete on price. You can find Intel’s full presentation here.

SK Hynix Earmarks $26 Billion for Capacity Expansion

With the many stories about SSD price parity and the ever increasing size of SSDs, one imagines that NAND production will have to increase dramatically to fuel such gains. This is just the case as SK Hynix just announced plans to spend $26 billion to build 2 new semiconductor manufacturing facilities. This investment comes on top of an already large $13 billion investment in the new M14 DRAM facility set to come online in 2017. SK Hynix is expecting the two new facilities to be operational by 2024.

Even with such large investment from SK Hynix and competitors like Samsung, SanDisk/Toshiba and IMFT, analysts are not predicting a sharp drop in DRAM or NAND prices. On one hand, there is the fact that the few players aren’t keen to enter into a destructive race to the bottom just yet as along as their marketshare remains stable. It’s only once the NAND and DRAM markets stop growing will we see a massive price war start up. Given the increasing adoption of both mobile computing devices and SSDs in general, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Even without a massive price drop, NAND and DRAM prices should continue to fall as manufacturers transition to 3D NAND and ever lower processes. The biggest question is if 3D Xpoint will revolutionize the industry or not.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information 

Intel and Micron Introduce the Next Generation of Memory

Intel has teamed up with Micron to create the next generation of memory and today’s press event was to announce this to the world. It was done with big words and as we’ve learned from the recent Intel 750 SSD launch, they mean business when they say so.

Where the 750 SSD took NAND and moved it onto a better platform that could be better utilized by the CPU instead of being bottlenecked by SATA and SAS bus’, this introduction is something completely new. It is dubbed the 3D XPoint (3D Cross Point) and is truly the next generation memory.

It’s also about time that we get a new type of memory as the current NAND technology, while improved upon over time, already is over 25 years old.

3D XPoint is a new class of non-volatile memory that can provide speeds up to 1,000 times faster than current NAND technology. Not only is it faster, it is also a lot more durable and doesn’t have the trouble with a lot of writes as NAND does. This will bring game-changing performance to the market.

Not only is 3D XPoint said to be 1000 times faster and 1000 times more durable, it also has 10 times or more density than conventional memory.

The idea in itself isn’t new, but most people didn’t think it was possible. Intel and Micron had to come up with completely new materials and combinations as well as methods to combine them into a working product that could be mass produced.

Where normal memory just changes a part of the material used to indicate its state, 3D XPoint memory uses bulk material property change where the whole part changes instead of just being electron-based. This allows for more capacity in denser storage and the current production is spitting out 128Gbit sizes.

The 3D stacking is different from 3D NAND as it truly allows expansion in all direction without any effect to the performance. The unique switches inside are the key for this and it’s where the strength comes from. 3D NAND allows for more capacity, but not more speed, and that is why we need this new technology.

The pure nature of the technology also allows for much better data security as nothing will be lost in case of power failures. It can be used for both storage and system memory and as such could be the next big thing.

This isn’t just a proof of concept or a fancy powerpoint presentation with an idea, these are actual memory chips that currently are being produced in the joint factory of Micron and Intel. Both companies will release products based on this new technology in 2016 and they don’t expect any shortages in supply. That’s great news.

The final thing you might be asking yourself, what is the price and how does it really place itself in usability in comparison with other memory types. Both of these questions can be answered in one, it places itself between DRAM and NAND, so that’s not so bad news.

Rambus Working on New Low Latency DRAM

Rambus is developing a new low latency dynamic random access memory (DRAM) architecture that can increase memory chip capacity. According to the company, at least two DRAM producers have already shown an interest in the technology.

Ron Black, CEO of Rambus, told investors and financial analysts, “While we are still in stealth mode on the project, I can tell you that we are again trying to make our semiconductor IP as consumable as possible and that we are trying to help the industry solve the enormous problems in the data center around latency and capacity for memory.”

Black says that a memorandum of understanding (essentially a big pre-order) has already been signed with a major DRAM maker for licensing rights on the in-development tech.

“The project is not custom, but broadly applicable to the industry,” Black said.

Rambus plans to unveil the new DRAM system later this year, and expects the architecture to become standard by 2016.

Source: KitGuru

TDK Demonstrate Ultra Fast MRAM Prototype

TDK have begun to demonstrate their new MRAM memory technology, which is one of several new technologies expected to replace the current range of flash memory products. MRAM benefits from the high speeds we associate with SRAM and DRAM, but it comes with the non-volatile memory formats we need to store data for years, like we currently get with flash memory.

MRAM or Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory is nothing new, but this is the first time TDK have demonstrated a working prototype of their STT MRAM chip that is capable of reading and writing. The demo on display features the new chip vs current flash memory technology, the real show stopped here being that MRAM was capable of reading and writing data seven times faster than its flash competitor; 8MB modules were used in the demonstration.

Eager to get your hands on MRAM drives? Unfortunately it could be a while and TDK currently estimates it could be as much as ten years before the hardware is in mass production as for now, current technologies are more than good enough for most needs, but obviously that is expected to change as technology advances. That doesn’t mean we won’t see this technology making its way into devices and it’s likely to end up in industrial and scientific applications way before it works its way down to the general consumer level, but Buffalo are already said to be using it as a cache chip for a new hard drive, a perfect small scale application for the new technology.

Thank you Chiphell for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Chiphell.

JEDEC Release LPDDR4 Standard: DDR4 For Tablets, Smartphones, Notebooks

DDR4 for the desktop may be just around the corner with Intel’s X99 Haswell-E launch at the end of this month but DDR4 for the mobile market is a bit further off. Today JEDEC announced the new “JESD209-4” LPDDR4 standard for low power devices such as tablets, smartphones, notebooks and other mobile devices. Compared to LPDDR3, which can operate up to 2133 MT/s, LPDDR4 will start at 3200 MT/s and operate up to 4266 MT/s – that’s up to double the speed. JEDEC claim that an architecture redesign was needed to achieve this doubling of speed, moving from a one channel die with 16 bits per channel to a dual channel die with 16 bits per channel meaning a total of 32 bits.

In order to reduce power consumption JEDEC have also transitioned to a new form of I/O signalling called low voltage swing terminated logic (LVSTL). LVSTL consumes 50% less power, 367-440mV in total, than the I/O voltage swing of LPDDR3. The operating voltage has also been reduced from 1.2 volts down to 1.1 volts, similar to what we’ve seen with the desktop class DDR3 to DDR4 transition which has gone from 1.5 volts to 1.25 volts.

Key specifications of LPDDR4 include:

  • Two-channel architecture
  • Internal Vref supplies for CA and DQ
  • Data Bus Inversion (DBI-DC)
  • ODT for CA and DQ
  • I/O throughput: 3200 MT/s, rising to 4266 MT/s
  • Signaling voltage: 367mV or 440mV
  • Operating voltage: 1.1V
  • Pre-fetch size: 32B per channel
  • Topology: Point to point, PoP, MCP
  • Max I/O capacitance: 1.3pF
  • Write leveling
  • 6-pin SDR CA bus CA training (12 pins per two channels)
  • As with previous low-power DRAM generations, LPDDR4 does not require a delay-locked loop (DLL) or phase-locked loop (PLL)

It’s worth noting JEDEC are only announcing the initial standard, production is still some way off. Most importantly for consumers is the fact that when LPDDR4 finds its way into electronic devices they should benefit from faster memory bandwidth, better performance and lower power consumption which will translate into longer battery life.

Source: JEDEC, Via: TechPowerUp

Image courtesy of JEDEC

AMD’s Carrizo APUs Based on 28nm, Have Stacked DRAM On-Package

New information has emerged about AMD’s next generation desktop “Carrizo” APUs. We already know so far that Carrizo will be arriving in 2015, it will make use of AMD’s Excavator CPU core architecture, use DDR3 memory, have full HSA support, fit the FM2+ package and work with existing A88X motherboards. The new information suggests AMD’s Carrizo APUs will make use of 28nm APU architecture, that’s covering the CPU and GPU components, but also they will make use of 20nm stacked DRAM.

Why stacked DRAM on-package? Well it certainly does make sense for AMD, even if this information is still in its “rumour” stages. AMD’s APUs are currently bottlenecked by the system memory which is intensively used by the GPU component. Making the move to DDR4 would be expensive so instead stacked DRAM allows DDR3 to be used, but offer better performance than DDR4 because of the shortened and simplified interface pipeline. Stacked DRAM on Carrizo would offer a cost effective way of interfacing with the system memory at higher speeds and lower latencies than DDR4, but also at a lower cost than integrated on-die L3 cache. It would also enable AMD to offer a minimum amount and standard of memory for its HSA concept making it a lot more developer friendly. The stacked DRAM feature is rumoured to be reserved for business-grade and high-end consumer products only: this won’t be equipped on entry-level Carrizo products.

Source: Bits n Chips, Via: WCCFTech

Image courtesy of ProHardveri

DDR3 Prices Will Hit New 18 Month High, Vendors Raising Contract Prices

DDR3 prices have been on the rise for quite some time and that rising trend is set to continue. Figures quoted by DRAMeXchange show that the average price for 4Gb and 2Gb DDR3 chips have hit 18 month highs after rising nearly 20% in Q2 of 2014 compared to Q1 of 2014. The average price of 4Gb (256MB) DDR3 chips and 2Gb (128MB) DDR3 chips are now $4.25 and $2.35 respectively. The price of 4Gb DDR3 chips is expected to rise as high as $4.60 in the near future as DRAM vendors are raising conract prices by around 10% as of July. Sequential quarterly rises of 5-10% are expected through the remainder of the year so now is the time to start making your DDR3 upgrades before it is too late.

Remember a price hike of just $0.35 per 4Gb chip means an extra $2.80 of base cost to a 4GB DDR3 module (as a 4GB module needs eight 4Gb chips), then add on the extra costs incurred all along the supply chain and that could easily end up being an extra $4-5. If you’re buying an 8GB kit that’s an extra $8-10, and so on.

Source: Digitimes

Image credit unknown

Intel Reveals Details Regarding Intel’s “Knights Landing” Xeon Phi Coprocessor

Intel has announcement the ‘Knights Landing’ Xeon Phi Coprocessor late last year, having released very few details about the lineup back then. As time passes, details are bound to be revealed and Intel is said to start shipping the series next year. This is why Intel apparently has decided to reveal some more details regarding the ‘Knights Landing’ Xeon Phi Coprocessor.

The announcement from last year points to the Knights Landing taking the jump from Intel’s enhanced Premium 1 P54C x86 cores and moving on to the more modern Silvermont x86 cores, significantly increasing the single threaded performance. Furthermore, the cores are said to incorporate AVX units, allowing AVX-512F operations and provide bulk Knight Landing’s compute power.

Intel is said to offer 72 cores in Knight Landing CPUs, with double-precision FP63 performance expected to reach 3 TFLOPS, having the CPUs boasting the 14nm technology. While this is somewhat old news, Intel revealed some more insights at the ISC 2014.

During the conference, Intel stated that the company is required to change the 512-bits and GDDR5 memory present in the current Knights Corner series. This is why Intel and Micron have apparently struck a deal to work on a more advanced memory variant of Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) with increased bandwidth.

Also, Intel and Micron are said to be working on a Multi-Channel DRAM (MCDRAM) specially designed for Intel’s processors, having a custom interface best suited for Knights Landing. This is said to help scale its memory support up to 16 GB if RAM while offering up to 500 GB/s memory bandwidth, a 50% increased compared to Knights Corner’s GDDR5.

The second change made to Knights Landing is said to include replacing the True Scale Fabric with Omni Scale Fabric in order to offer better performance compared to the current fabric solution. Though Intel is currently keeping this information on a down-low, traditional Xeon processors are said to benefit from this fabric change in the future as well.

Lastly, compared to Intel’s Knights Corner series, the Knights landing will be available both in PCIe and socketed form factor, mainly thanks to the MCDRAM technology. This is said to allow the CPU to be installed alongside Xeon processors on specific motherboards. The company has also emphasised that the Knights Landing version will be able to communicate directly with other CPUs with the help of Quick Patch Interconnect, compared to current PCIe interface.

In addition to the latter, having the Knights Landing socketed would also allow it to benefit from the Xeon’s NUMA capabilities, being able to share memory and memory spaces with the Xeon CPUs. Also, Knights Landing is said to be binary compatible with Haswell CPUs, having the company considering writing programs once and running them across both types of processors.

Intel is expected to start shipping the Knights Landing Xeon Psi Coprocessor somewhere around Q2 2015, having the company already lining up its first Knights Landing supercomputer deals with National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center with around 9300 Knights Landing nodes.

Thank you Anandtech for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Anandtech

Two New World Records Broken With The ASRock Z97 OC Formula

It seems that ASRock’s latest motherboard, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula, was designed to break one world record after another. John Lam, a professional overclocker from HKEPC OC, has apparently used the motherboard and achieved what has been previously dubbed as ‘impossible’.

John has used the ASRock Z97 OC Formula along with the Intel Core i7-4770K CPU and overclocked the processor to an astonishing 7181.23 MHz, thus ranking as the world’s number #1 at HWBOT.org. However, John apparently was not satisfied with the world record. Having the same motherboard and processor combination, he also managed to achieve another world record, scoring 1601 marks in Intel XTU, giving a new definition of CPU overclocking.

People might be wondering how this was possible. The answer seems to lie in the motherboard itself, having it be designed and tuned by legendary overclocker Nick Shih. This is why the ASRock Z97 OC Formula comes with “Super Alloy Technology”, which includes XXL Aluminium Alloy heatsink for fast heat dissipation, Premium Alloy Choke used to largely lower working temperature, Dual-Stack MOSFET contributing to a more efficient CPU Vcore power and NexFET MOSFET, providing DRAM power more efficiently and resistance against electrostatic discharge of up to 15 KV.

Besides the Super Alloy Technology, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula also contains 4 Phase Memory Power design, Multiple FIlter Cap, Hi-Density Power Connectors, 12 Phase CPU Power design, 8 Layer PCB, four 2oz copper, and the list just goes on and on. In addition to the latter, the BIOS also features Jumbo V technology, allowing overclockers to select the most optimal settings for extreme overclocking.


Summing it all up, ASRock has just proved that the company has a beast amongst motherboards, specially designed by overclockers and dedicated to overclockers and overclocking. Therefore, if anyone would like to test his or her overclocking skills to the limit and does not know what motherboard to use, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula could be the answer.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

Buffalo Announce New Type of External Hard Drive With DRAM Caching

Hybrid drives are starting to become a commonplace on the component market as a suitable upgrade solution for those wanting a drive with the capacity of a hard drive, but with read speeds that are more in the regions of a solid state drive. Keeping up with this new trend, Buffalo Technology has unveiled a new class of external hard drive which features a DRAM cache to offer faster read speeds to commonly accessed data.

Unlike an internal hybrid drive however, the HD-PGDU3’s cached area is not a true solid state partition with the cached data being held on volatile DRAM memory which is kept alive by an internal battery. Naturally this means that after a period of time the battery will run out of power and the cached data will be lost, however Buffalo do provide a small battery meter and in addition to providing the cache with power, the battery also ensures that there is no data corruption in the event of the drive being disconnected from the host device too early.

Two models of the drive will be available at launch with 500GB and 1TB capacities with both drives offering 1GB of DRAM cache backed by a lithium-ion battery. USB3.0 connectivity ensures the cached data can be accessed as fast as possible with speed of up to 400MB/s on offer.

There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, but with Computex on the horizon we suspect any further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

Source: Techpowerup

Kingston Display New HyperX Fury and HyperX PnP Memory At Post-CES Event

Memory products are one of the areas I cover here at eTeknix, but I wasn’t able to visit CES 2014 this year to check out the newest memory products on offer. Thankfully, Kingston held a special event in London on February the 6th to show us their new releases from CES 2014, and in case you missed Kingston at CES 2014 we’re going to give you a quick run down of their newest memory products. Kingston showed us two of their newest memory product lines, both of which are quite different as they are targeting different markets.

Up first is Kingston’s new HyperX PnP kits, of which they demonstrated to us some of their new SODIMM variants.  Kingston showed us the KHX18LS11P1K2/16 kit which consists of two high density 8GB SODIMM modules running at an impressive 1866MHz with 1.5 volts. Being part of the PnP series these SODIMM modules come with plug and play support making notebook or small form factor PC upgrades a piece of cake. Of course Kingston also offer these modules in standard DDR3 DIMM form factors for desktop PCs. Like all Kingston memory products these modules are tested for compatibility with all leading brands of motherboards. Consumers will be pleased to know a lifetime warranty with free technical support is offered on all HyperX PnP purchases.

At the event in London Kingston demonstrated the KHX18LS11P1K2/16 kit running on Gigabyte’s latest BRIX PRO small form factor gaming PC. Kingston’s HyperX PnP SODIMMs are ideal solutions for any system that takes SODIMM DDR3 memory modules. You can find more details about Kingston’s new HyperX PnP range here.

Of course what will probably appeal to our readers more is Kingston’s brand spanking new series of HyperX memory for desktop PCs. The HyperX Fury series replaces the mainstream HyperX Blu series according to the Kingston representative we spoke with, this means the HyperX Fury is situated below the HyperX Genesis range which is in turn situated below the HyperX Predator range. What’s so interesting about these kits is that for the first time we are seeing Kingston offer a relatively mainstream memory product in a variety of colours as well as sizes and speeds.

The Kingston HyperX Fury kits are to be made available in black, white, red and blue with black PCBs. They will be provided in 1333MHz to 1866MHz speeds and in 4GB to 16GB kit capacities.

Kingston’s HyperX Fury memory kits will be made available from March 31st 2014. Newegg have some early pre-order listings which reveal pricing of $95 for an 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1600MHz kit and $179.99 for a 16GB (2 x 8GB)1600MHz kit . This translates into £69.99 and £132.99 respectively for the UK market. Expect final retail prices to be a fair bit lower after widespread availability arrives.

What this means for system builders and consumers is that there’s finally a low cost but classy looking series of memory modules available in a range of popular colours with black PCBs and lifetime warranties….what more could you ask for? No longer do you have to fork out on expensive enthusiast-grade kits with frequencies you don’t really need to get a great looking (and performing) RAM kit.

If you’re interested in more details on Kingston memory products you can find out more here.

All images courtesy of eTeknix.

Patriot Viper 3 16GB 2400MHz Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Patriot are recognised as one of the industry giants in the production of DRAM kits for desktop PCs. Today we have with us a 16GB desktop DDR3 RAM kit from Patriot which runs with a rated frequency of PC3-19200, or 2400MHz. The memory kit we have forms part of their Viper 3 series and comes with a blue heat spreader and a lifetime warranty. With XMP certification and a really high frequency this kit is mainly aimed at Ivy Bridge, Ivy Bridge-E and Haswell systems but Piledriver and Richland systems should also work fine providing you manually dial in the frequency and timings of the XMP profile. Generally speaking 2400MHz isn’t likely to run on Llano, Bulldozer, Sandy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E or older platforms. 2400MHz is rapidly becoming the new standard for enthusiast class memory kits along with 2133MHz. The drop in price of 2400MHz kits, even with quite volatile DRAM prices more broadly, has been quite impressive to watch.

Patriot’s Viper 3 16GB kit comes with two DIMMs at 8GB a piece each. They operate at an XMP of 2400MHz with 10-12-12-30-2T timings.

The blue colour is quite bold so you’re going to want to coordinate it with a blue motherboard – Gigabyte’s Z87X-UD3H seems like a sensible choice.

The top of the DIMMs have a darker strip on top with the Patriot branding in the middle. As you can see when looking down onto them the green PCB is less visible.

ADATA SSDs, Memory and Accessories On Show At CES 2014

As part of our CES tour, we are today taking a look around ADATA’s suite in the Venetian Hotel here in Las Vegas, and like a few other vendors, they are keen to show off their latest and greatest technologies to the world. As soon as we enter their suite, we find a test bench setup which is home to a PCIe card that looks rather different to any other PCIe SSD that we have seen before.

On a closer inspection we find that this card is playing home to a next generation mSATA SSD. As seen on the centre of this board, the mSATA SSD is still in development due to the massive heatsink that is placed on top of the drive controller and even though this is an unfinished product, ADATA assure us that the drive is nearing completion and once the heat issue from the controller has been ironed out then we should be starting to see samples appear for review, so we can only look forward to this. The question I hear you all asking though is what makes this drive that much different from any other mSATA drive? Well when we look at mSATA, there is obviously a certain size constraint to stick to, after all the drives are considerably smaller than a traditional SSD. This particular drive is a brand new form of PCIe SSD and with a few tweaks and tunes, it is able to break through the bandwidth limitations of Gen 3 PCIe lanes and speeds of upto 1800MB/s are possible through the new SF3700 controller. Obviously this is not fully refined as of yet, but as and when it is, the market for PCIe SSDs will be opened right up for power users, the enterprise market and laptops alike.

Further along the line we find a number of ADATA’s existing products ranging from memory to mSATA and full SATA SSDs, but there are a couple of products that stand out from the crowd. The first of these is a full 2TB SSD, yes thats a whopping 2TB, labelled under the SX930 product line and this uses the same SF3700 ‘Griffin’ controller that we saw above. Like the image above, this drive is still in development and the drive only has half of its casing in place to make way for a heatsink to cool the controller. Once this technology has been refined however, I do believe that we are looking at the worlds first 2TB 2.5″ SSD.

The second item of interest is this little baby. Now on the face of it, this appears to look like a single NAND flash module that would be installed on to a fully fledged SSD, however the situation could be no more different. What we have here is an entire SSD in an integrated format – yep, thats the NAND, controller and memory all contained within a single package. Now obviously this is not going to appear on the consumer market to buy, but there will be applications within the mobile and tablet markets for this type of drive – thus reducing the size of the product, whilst offering faster speeds and potentially greater capacities.

Further round the ADATA suite, we find that they are now delving a little deeper into the accessory market and as expected this includes power banks for your mobile devices. Now it seems the every man and his dig is produced these banks, but to set themselves apart a little ADATA have got some that are coloured and designed towards the female users, as style is a key factor for some. Besides these a selection of external storage devices and mobile storage devices such as the 1TB DashDrive HV620 that I recently looked at and the DashDrive Air AE400 that I looked earlier last year.

Just around the corner from the SSD lineup ADATA are showing their XPG range of memory, but what we note in particular is the wide array of colours that they are now offering. Many people these days are opting for a colour theme within their system and for memory vendors this can lead to a make or break in terms of sales – after all, if the modules are not the colour, then why would the end user want it for their system. This is where this new bunch of heat-spreaders comes into play. The nine modules that are on show are reportedly only a selection of the colours that will be available so what we now find is that the need to sacrifice memory speed or quality is no longer a choice that has to be made.

Stay tuned as we have far more content for you from our trip to this years Consumer Electronics Show.

Team Group Vulcan 8GB 2400MHz C10 Memory Kit Review

Introduction


When high performance memory from gamers and overclockers is mentioned Team Group certainly isn’t the first name on my mind. However, today I’ve been provided with a kit that I hope will prove me to be wrong in not recognising Team Group as a top brand. The Vulcan 8GB 2400MHz kit Team Group have provided us with, or the TLAD38G2400HC10TDC01 to be exact, is a well priced 8GB memory kit that packs all the hallmarks of a solid memory kit: a lifetime warranty, a black PCB and the promise of overclocking potential, not to mention a variety of colours that are a bit unusual including Orange and Gold.

The aesthetics are certainly unique. The Orange heat spreader with a black PCB is perfect for something like a Gigabyte Z87X-OC or OC-Force. These kits do also come in 8GB DIMM densities, according to the Team Group website, if 4GB isn’t enough for you but for most people an 8GB (2 x 4GB) dual channel kit is perfectly adequate.

On our motherboard they actually match pretty well even though it is a red and black theme.

The dark nature of the orange means it is quite subtle and it certainly isn’t going to stand out from your rig even if your motherboard isn’t orange. The Gold model looks like a particularly exciting prospect too given the Gold theme ASUS have deployed on all their new Z87 motherboards.

SSD And Flash Drive Prices Set To Fall As Impending NAND Price-Cut Beckons

NAND flash contract prices are expected to dip in Q4 of 2013 despite a pre-emptive reduction in global NAND supply according to industry sources speaking to Digitimes. The reason being is that demand has been too low so there is over supply despite NAND vendors reducing their supply.

“The global supply of NAND flash has reduced due to chipmakers’ strategic moves to allocate more capacity for DRAM products. Nonetheless, end-market demand for NAND flash has fallen at a faster pace than the pace of contraction in the supply, the sources said.”

Samsung have reportedly moved some of their NAND capacity to the manufacturing of DRAM after global supply to a brief hit with the SK Hynix fabrication plant fire back in early September. Most other NAND vendors are doing the same as DRAM has become more profitable than NAND given current market conditions

“end-market demand for NAND flash has been weaker than expected thus far in the fourth quarter, the sources observed. Sales of high-end smartphones continue to disappoint, dragging down overall NAND flash demand, the sources said.”

The forecast for 2014 is also bad for NAND vendors (but good for consumers) as NAND oversupply is predicted with new chipmaker capacity expected to come online in 2014. The end result is that consumers should see prices for NAND based products (flash drives, SSDs, high capacity smartphones, etc…) start to fall quite rapidly later on this year.

Image courtesy of Samsung

Micron Predicts A Rise In DRAM Prices

Following the massive fire at the factory of SK Hynix early last month, the price of DRAM not surprisingly shot right up with the cost of a 2Gb DDR3 DRAM chip rising up from $1.60 to $2.27 – that’s a rise if nearly 42% in cost. Thanks to a shift in production levels to SK Hynix’s factory over in South Korea, SK Hynix were able to lower the financial impact that I would have otherwise had on both themselves and the industry as a whole.

With this in mind however, following a call between market analysts and executives at Micron, DRAM memory chip prices are expected to be on the rise once more, but this time by only a fraction (<10%) in the first fiscal quarter when compared to the last quarter which finished in August.

On the contrary however, the price of NAND has been predicted to drop by up to 10%. As a result we should expect to see the price of SSDs and other flash storage drop slightly over the next few months as signs that the market is stabilising once more become more and more clear.

With all this in mind, its safe to say that the market is far more stable than we expected and any worries about a prices of NAND shooting through the roof in a similar fashion to what we saw when Hitachi’s factory was flooded should not be expected.

Source: Fudzilla

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 2400MHz 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Corsair recently expanded their series of RAM kits to offer something between the Vengeance and the Dominator series. This new series is known as the Vengeance Pro series and it has kits ranging from 1600MHz all the way up to 2400MHz but with plans to potentially go higher than that in future. Today we are looking at a top-of-the-range kit from Corsair, and more specifically their Vengeance Pro DDR3 2400MHz kit with a pair of 8GB modules. These modules are geared towards the extreme user and are designed for overclocking – for use with Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms as these are the only current platforms with the IMC to be able to run 2400MHz RAM without compatibility issues. Of course when Ivy Bridge-E hits the market this should also be able to run these kits. Sandy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E may be able to run these but only chips with exceptional IMCs (integrated memory controllers).

The kit we have here today is formed from a pair of 8GB modules running at 2400MHz with 10-12-12-31-2T and 1.65 volts. They support Intel XMP 1.3 and come in four different colours – Gold, Blue, Red and Silver. We of course have the red version and end users will be pleased to know these kits come with a limited lifetime warranty.

The packaging is pretty plain and simple and indicates the colour of the kit, the size, the configuration and along the top of the box is the speed demarcations.

The back tells you that these DRAM modules are geared for overclocking on Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms.

Included is a limited lifetime warranty statement as well as the RAM kit itself.

Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 1866MHz 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Micron are on of the biggest DRAM vendors in the industry and Crucial is one of their main brands through which they channel their DRAM products. Today we are looking at Crucial’s revamped Ballistix Sport line which now comes with the XT moniker. These Crucial Ballistix Sport XT DDR3 modules we have come in a variety of capacities and speeds which you can see here. The key things to note are that they are available in either 4GB or 8GB modules and can have either 1600MHz or 1866MHz clock speeds. We have with us today the best dual channel kit of the Ballistix Sport XT series, more specifically we have the BLS2K8G3D18ADS3 kit which uses two 8GB DIMMs running at 1866MHz, CL10 latencies and 1.5 volts.

The packaging is pretty plain and simple and indicates all the key details about the kit on the sticker. The packaging is clear so you can get a clear glimpse at the memory kit.

The back is quite plain and tells you that this series is aimed at mainstream users and gamers. There is nothing included with this product other than the memory kit itself.

Apacer Reveal Thunderbird Series OC RAM

Chinese DRAM vendor Apacer have unveiled some pretty unique looking RAM modules that will be part of their new “Thunderbird” series of RAM. Apacer will offer these modules in four different colours, pictured above – black, orange, red and light blue.  Each module is themed with a Thunderbird sticker over a heatspreader with some additional shaped metallic heatsink designs across the top. In my opinion these modules are definitely an acquired taste but they do come in a wide range of high performance speeds that are sure to please enthusiasts.

The Thunderbird kits are available in 8GB or 16GB dual channel kits with 1600/2133/2400/2666/2800/2933MHz kits available. Apacer claim a unique 8 layer PCB design on these modules for enhanced overclocking. If you can manage to pick these modules up from a retailer that stocks Apacer then you can probably expect some very high pricing on those higher frequency kits.

Image courtesy of Apacer

G.Skill Expands RipjawsZ DDR3 Range With 15 New Kits

G.Skill have revealed fifteen new quad channel memory kits designed specifically for use with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge-E processors on the X79 platform. These kits are available in 1866MHz to 2933MHz frequencies. They all use voltages between 1.5 and 1.65 volts kits are available in a variety of configurations with either 4GB or 8GB DIMMs. You can see the full specifications of the new kits below. Kits above 2400MHz require memory fans and so G.Skill provides one of its double fan RAM cooling solutions that clip onto the DIMM lanes.

While G.Skill are only selling kits up to 2933MHz they are claiming that you can overclock some of these kits, probably the 2933MHz kit, to 3000MHz. What’s worth noting is that despite the drastically improved memory controller of Ivy Bridge-E some CPUs will struggle to run those super high frequency kits. Compatibility up to 2400MHz for almost any CPU is pretty much guaranteed but 2666 and 2933MHz may challenge your CPU a fair bit. Of course these kits will come with full XMP profiles to make installation super-easy and there is a lifetime warranty too.

Image courtesy of G.Skill

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 1866MHz 16GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Picking the right memory kit has never really been easier thanks to Intel’s XMP profiling and quite frankly your choice has probably never been wider either. Today we are looking at a kit from Corsair, and more specifically their Vengeance Pro DDR3 1866MHz kit with a pair of 8GB modules. These modules are geared towards the entry level of their brand new Vengeance Pro DRAM series and these modules are designed for overclocking, and for use with Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms.

The kit we have here today is formed from a pair of 8GB modules running at 1866MHz with 9-10-9-27 CR2 and 1.5 volts. They support Intel XMP 1.3 and come in four different colours – Gold, Blue, Red and Silver. We of course have the silver version and end users will be pleased to know these kits come with a limited lifetime warranty.

The packaging is pretty plain and simple and indicates the colour of the kit, the size, the configuration and along the top of the box is the speed demarcations.

The back tells you that these DRAM modules are geared for overclocking on Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms.

Included is a limited lifetime warranty statement as well as the memory kit itself.

SK Hynix’s Chinese Factory Goes Up In Flames, Could Cause Memory Price Hikes

Pictures coming in from China show that SK Hynix’s Chinese Factory containing fabrications #1 and #2 has burst into a raging fire due to an internal chemical explosion incident.

Thankfully the incident has yet to cause any fatalities. Reports are suggesting that world supply could be hit significantly as these two fabrications make up to 15% of world supply of memory shipments – meaning half of SK Hynix’s production capabilities could now be gone. SK Hynix make up 30% of world supply in total. Memory prices rose 10% with the news breaking and are expected to continue to rise.

Apparently Nvidia source the majority of their GDDR5 VRAM from this factory and so will now have to start looking for new suppliers. This will force prices of both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards up as the two compete for contracts with the same suppliers.

DRAM companies are reportedly putting all DRAM shipments on hold, leaving the market to fully speculate about the damage and drive prices of DRAM through the roof before they continue releasing inventory at escalated prices. Many are already speculating we will see a similar outcome to the Thai floods replicate itself in the DRAM market. Only time will tell, the key thing to note is if you want any graphics cards or RAM then buy now or forever regret it!

Images courtesy of Chiphell

Kingston NaVi Limited Edition DDR3 1600MHz 8GB Memory Kit Review

Introduction


Kingston are quite well known for their tendency to release limited edition products that are branded to celebrate certain events or partnerships and the NaVi series memory kits we have here today are no different. These NaVi series memory kits are essentially Kingston HyperX kits branded yellow to celebrate Kingston’s collaboration with the eSports Club Natus Vincere aka NaVi. Kingston says it is aiming these memory kits at gamers and enthusiasts, though I can see the appeal will most definitely be with gamers more than enthusiasts. That is because these kits only come with a 1600MHz speed in either 8GB or 16GB dual channel kits. They do of course come with the backing of Kingston’s quality standards and a lifetime warranty to support that. Part of the NaVi limited edition series also includes the NaVi HyperX 3K series SSD which will essentially be normal Hyper X 3K 120/240GB SSDs rebranded in the yellow NaVi pattern.

The packaging is simple and more or less identical to that of their packaging on other HyperX memory kits as it is essentially a HyperX kit.

The back details the information about why it is limited edition and the cooperation with NaVi.

Included is the memory kit and a warranty information document.