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128-megabit memory chips out

NEC starts shipping samples of 128-megabit SDRAM chips designed to double the memory capacity of high-end systems.

Japan's NEC Corporation has started shipping samples of 128-megabit SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory) chips, designed to double the memory capacity of high-end systems.

Made according to the advanced 0.22 micron manufacturing process, the chips are compatible with 64-megabit SDRAMs, according to a prepared statement cited by Reuters. High-end 64-megabit chips are typically used in the memory modules found in workstation and server computers, but haven't yet appeared in standard PCs. The current desktop standard is the 16-megabit chip.

Both 64-megabit and 128-megabit chips hold many times the data as 16-megabit chips, and herald a generation of PCs that come with a minimum of 64 megabytes (MB) of memory. Today, the minimum is typically 16MB.

The 128-megabit chip will likely be a transitional chip, however, as memory vendors typically upgrade by a factor of four. The 4-megabit chip was succeeded by the 16-megabit chip, which in turn is being followed by the 64-megabit chip. By tradition, the 256-megabit chip is next in line, and in fact not all major memory manufacturers have committed to making the 128-megabit memory chip.

NEC plans to begin volume production in August, and expects to produce 600,000 chips per month by late 1998. Monthly production will rise to 1 million units in early 1999, according to Reuters.

Samples of the chips are priced at about 10,000 yen (about $77) each, NEC said.