With all the rumor and speculation about the problems getting DDR2 out the door, it's reassuring to see the world's largest memory manufacturer announcing and shipping DDR2 DIMMs. We're looking forward to reporting how Kingston DDR2 actually performs when the boards and processors are officially announced. At least the holdup now with Intel's Socket 775 should not be the availability of DDR2 memory for the new boards. The early Kingston DDR2 modules are 512MB, but expect to see quickly 1GB DIMMs for sale as the price drops. Kingston is showing a full line of DDR2 modules, and the additional DDR2 offerings will show up quickly if the market for DDR2 takes off. If it develops slowly, as many expect, you will likely wait a while for additional DDR2 memory options.
With DDR2 widely expected to debut at about double the price of DDR, we are anxious to see how fast DDR2 will drop in price - to DDR levels. Much of that depends on how fast DDR2 is adopted by customers. As we reported in our CES coverage in January, almost all the board makers plan to ship Alderwood boards with DDR2 capabilities. Alderwood is the replacement for the 875 chipset, so this high end chipset will likely sell in smaller numbers than the Grantsdale chipset, which will replace the mainstream Intel 865 chipset. This is where the "what-if's" come in because almost every motherboard maker with whom we talked, except Intel, planned to ship Grantsdale with DDR DIMM sockets instead of the DDR2 sockets that it also supports.
We are now hearing talk of Grantsdale boards with dual memory capabilities, and also Grantsdale with DDR2 from other motherboard manufacturers. It will be interesting to see at launch how much Intel has influenced the designs for Grantsdale motherboards from other motherboard manufacturers. Will shipping Grantsdale boards actually be mostly DDR, or will there be more DDR2 Grantsdale motherboards as we were told to expect in January?
Early reports are that DDR2 performs about the same as current DDR, but with a lot of promise for future performance improvements. With AMD's Socket 939 coming about the same time as Intel 775 - and using dual-channel DDR, not DDR2 - there have to be some real advantages to the latest technology for customers to buy. Unless Alderwood or DDR2 offers significant performance advantages, DDR2 acceptance will come slowly. Customers will move to DDR2 only when it performs better than DDR, or performs the same and costs the same, or when it is the only memory choice available for features they want on Alderwood or Grantsdale. They won't buy just because DDR2 is new or even if it performs a little better at a much higher price. Certainly, Rambus proved that Computer Enthusiasts will not buy at any price.
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