DDR-3 memory and Solid State Storage from TEAM
Next on the list was TEAM Memory who have just recently moved into a new office and things are definitely looking on the up and up for this Taiwanese company dedicated to most memory related products.
Harry and friends from TEAM were kind enough share some exciting CeBIT 2007 product news with us. We had actually been planning to meet with TEAM for a while but the timing worked out perfectly that we could see actual physical and working DDR-3 memory for the very first time which had literally just come off their Taipei factory line.
In one of those photos below you can see the difference between DDR (bottom), DDR-2 (middle) and DDR-3 (top). Notice that the connector key notch location is different to avoid installing into the wrong motherboard and that the DDR-3 chips are a little bigger than regular DDR-2 memory chips.
The exact module we had a chance to look at was TEAM's Elite DDR-3 1066 CL5-5-5-15 PC-8500 module with capacity of 1GB. DDR-3 is much different to DDR-2 in that more calculations can be performed per clock cycle. DDR-3 will also be able to read and write data at the same time. TEAM made the comparison of a CB radio - with DDR-2 and previous memory, you needed to wait for someone to finish talking before you start talking back to them but with DDR-3 you could both talk at the same time as each other.
(A lesson in memory math...)
DDR-2 running at 800MHz and DDR-3 running at 800MHz will not provide the same performance numbers - a rough example given to us by TEAM would be that DDR-3 800MHz should be able to provide the same performance as DDR-2 operating at 1066MHz but of course no real-world numbers have been proved yet as Intel are still validating and testing DDR-3 modules.
The current JEDEC standard sets DDR-3 at 800MHz with timings of 5-5-5-15 which is the first batch you will see. The pin count is the same as DDR-2 at 240 pins but the layout is slightly different to avoid issues of installing the wrong RAM in the wrong motherboard, as you saw above. The default voltage of DDR-3 will be 1.5 volts compared to 1.8 volts of DDR-2. The maximum you'll ever be able to feed DDR-3 is around 2.0 volts and that's only if you intend on overclocking. TEAM will create a full range of DDR-3 modules but the first noticeable performance increase will come from their 1066MHz modules that come with timings of 6-6-6-18. The maximum current speed of DDR-3 chips is 1333MHz and they'll be on sale in the Q3 or Q4 timeframe. Nevertheless, TEAM is happy with their DDR-3 production so far and will have all of their new memory modules ready to sell as soon as motherboards are on the market that supports the new memory technology.
TEAM also showed us working 2.5" notebook size 128GB solid state drives in IDE and SATA format. Solid state is still a newish technology which is quickly gaining ground as a new storage medium that could and probably will eventually (10+ years) replace the regular hard drive, as we know it today. The benefit of solid state is that there are literally no moving mechanical parts inside (uses solid flash memory chips as used with memory cards like MMC, SD and Compact Flash). This will reduce the likeliness of drive failure and since there are no motors or highly sensitive drive heads like regular hard drives, solid state drives won't die if you drop them or they receive substantial shock. Keep in mind, we actually held these drives and they weigh next door to nothing - just like holding a feather, to be honest. This is an excellent step in the right direction for devices such as Ultra Mobile computers where overall weight is a concern.
Even though it has less latency than regular hard drives, the flash technology is still relatively new and still being improved in terms of size, performance and the number of reads and writes before flash failure. Right now the maximum amount of flash chips that you can bundle together is a total of 128GB and that has to do with controller limitation inside the flash. Soon this will improve and you'll start to see sizes of 256GB and upwards. You probably won't be able to buy any solid state drives in 2007 but late next year and beyond you will start to see more and more of these drives up for sale.
TEAM has promised us they'll let us benchmark solid state drives after CeBIT, so stay tuned!