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High-speed memory in pipeline

South Korea's LG Semicon starts commercial production of a high-speed 18-megabit Rambus DRAM chip.

One of South Korea's leading semiconductor manufacturers said it has begun production of a high-speed, next-generation memory chip.

LG Semicon started commercial production of an 18-megabit Base Rambus DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chip, which it touts as the world's fastest of its kind. The chip boasts a data transfer speed of 700MB per second, according to LG, five times faster than ordinary DRAM chips and 40 percent faster than existing Rambus DRAMs.

LG Semicon expects to produce 1 million DRAMs per month for use as graphic memory chips, according to a report in the online version of Nikkei Business Publications.

Rambus memory technology addresses the congested data transfer between microprocessors and memory chips. Because microprocessor speeds are currently much faster than memory speeds, a bottleneck forms and processors cannot work at top speed. To patch the problem, memory caches temporarily store data to keep the processor busy.

A more permanent solution, the Rambus memory interface is designed to move data to the processor more quickly by doubling the width of the memory bus, the pathway between memory and the processor.

Rambus is especially popular for use as a graphics memory because it can process multimedia data in real time. A number of leading memory manufacturers, including Intel, Samsung, and Mitsubishi, have already licensed the Rambus technology and said they will use it for this purpose. Industry experts quoted by Nikkei say Rambus DRAMs could make up half of all graphic memory chips by the year 2000.

LG Semicon said it plans to develop Direct Rambus DRAM chips and enter the main memory market by 1999, when Rambus is expected to widely penetrate the market.