DDR3 Memory: Not Ready for Prime Time

Time for another memory transition!

Well, not quite. DDR3 memory has arrived on the scene, but the move to DDR3 memory is looking a lot like the transition from DDR SDRAM to DDR2. What’s happening is that newer memory trades off latency for bandwidth.

The recent release of the Intel P35 and G35 chipsets is the beginning of the shift to DDR3, a new memory technology that builds on the foundation built by DDR2. We’ve seen a plethora of DDR2-based P35 and G33 motherboards arrive on the scene, but only a handful of DDR3-based boards. Part of the reason for this is the high cost of DDR3. Right now, 2GB DDR3 kits, consisting of a pair of 1GB modules range in price from $400-$500. Speed doesn’t seem to be a factor, with DDR3 1333MHz pairs costing roughly the same as DDR3 1066MHz kits.

These types of transitions are always painful. Make the jump too early, and you’ll end up spending way too much money for expensive RAM that drops quickly in price—and get to help debug new motherboard BIOSes in the process. Jump too late, and you may end up with a motherboard that can’t take newer CPUs and older memory.

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