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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | System Memory | DRAM Technologies ]

Synchronous-Link DRAM (SLDRAM)

The main "competition" to the proposed DRDRAM standard is a new standard called Synchronous-Link DRAM or SLDRAM. This new technology is being developed by the SLDRAM Consortium, a group of about 20 major computer industry manufacturers, working to establish SDRAM as the next standard for high-speed PC memory.

SLDRAM is an evolutionary design that greatly improves the performance of the memory subsystem over SDRAM, without a completely new architecture such as that used by DRDRAM. The initial specifications for SLDRAM call for a 64-bit bus running at a 200 MHz clock speed. As with DDR SDRAM, transfers are made twice on each clock cycle, for an effective speed of 400 MHz. This yields a net theoretical bandwidth of about 3.2 Gbytes/second, double that of DRDRAM. Finally, SLDRAM is an open standard, meaning that no royalties need be paid to anyone in order to make use of it.

Interestingly enough, the DRDRAM and SLDRAM battle seems to be playing out in a manner similar to many prior technological skirmishes. One that comes immediately to mind is the fight for dominance between BEDO and SDRAM in the mid-90s; though many thought that BEDO was better technologically, Intel single-handedly sealed its fate by deciding to go with SDRAM instead. Today, we have Intel going with DRDRAM, against a consortium of companies trying to push SLDRAM as a better solution. However, as we enter 1999 we have more non-Intel choices in processors and chipsets than we did in 1996, so it is not clear at all if Intel will have its way in establishing DRDRAM over SLDRAM as the next standard. Another factor that will support SLDRAM is that it does not require the payment of royalties the way DRDRAM does, something that could seriously harm the DRDRAM camp despite the presence of Intel.

Next: Video RAM (VRAM) and Other Video DRAM Technologies

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