Low-power DDR2 (LPDDR2) is becoming a major technology in the mobile DRAM field and is expected to occupy 40% of the second quarter of this year, up from 31% in the first quarter. Most of the mobile DRAM market is still controlled by the older LPDDR1 technology, but it will not take too long.
In the fourth quarter of this year, the situation will change, and LLP DDR2 will gain its advantage for the first time, controlling 58% of the market share, as shown in the chart below.
Mobile DRAM was once a backwater in the DRAM market, but now important manufacturers such as Samsung, Hynix Semiconductor, Elpida, and Micron are investing more engineering and development efforts in this area. Unlike standard DRAM, mobile DRAM consumes less power, generates less heat, and occupies less space, making it ideal for smartphones and other small electronic products. These products require more computing power and smaller footprint. Mobile DRAM is also used in digital cameras, portable media players, portable gaming products and tablet computers.
One of the major challenges facing mobile DRAM is whether its performance can meet future product requirements. Although LPDDR2 is now sufficient for mobile phones and tablets, power consumption and broadband issues remain of concern.
For example, when the operating voltage is 1.2V, LPDDR2 can save about 50% power consumption compared to LPDDR1 in each data transmission. However, if the data transmission volume of the future equipment is 10 times that of the current - soon will reach this level, LPDDR2 will not be able to meet the requirements at all.
LPDDR2's transmission speed is 8.5GB per second, while LPDDR1 is only 1066MHz, which is also very prominent. However, the speed of LPDDR2 may not be sufficient to meet the upcoming product. Feedback from smartphone manufacturers shows that data rates of up to 12.8 GB per second are required, which will require LPDDR2 to increase the clock frequency to 800 MHz, which IHS sees as unlikely.
What is the next step?
Since LPDDR2 may reach the performance limit and quickly fail to meet higher requirements, several mobile DRAM technologies are gaining attention and trying to replace them, as shown in the following table.
Currently in the forefront include: Rambus's mobile XDR; SPMT Alliance developed the serial port memory technology, ready to act as a license-free memory interface.
Other mobile DRAM technologies include Wide I/O, claiming to connect DRAM cores at the silicon level, but not necessarily mobile technology; LPDDR3, whose parameters are still uncertain; DDR4, a standard DRAM, may not be available until 2013.
According to research by IHS iSuppli, the current form of mobile DRAM may not be sufficient to meet the needs of smartphones and tablets because it involves a large amount of data in handling various applications. Other forms of mobile DRAM are emerging and may replace existing solutions.