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AMD's new DRAM offering isn't very flashy, but it's relatively affordable.  (Source: Akiba PC Hotline!)
New DDR3 memory from AMD is relatively affordable

In a curious move, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) has quietly announced [product page] 2 GB DDR3 DRAM (dynamic random access memory) sticks to be branded under the "Radeon" brand name.  As many of you know, Radeon has traditionally been used as the brand name for AMD's graphics cards lineup, which it acquired from ATI.

Hints that AMD might be producing DRAM commercially popped up in Feb. 2010, when ATI 1000 MHz DDR2 chips inexplicably popped up on MSI's (Micro-Star International Comp., Ltd. (TPE:2377)) GeForce 210 half-height graphics card, a graphics card from AMD rival NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA).

That oddity aside, there have been few hints that AMD was interested in selling PC DRAM, a low-margin business that many companies have fled from in recent years.

AMD's new DDR3 stick offerings will come in three tiers -- a 1333 MHz "Entertainment" tier (9-9-9 timings), a 1600 MHz "ULTRAPRO Gaming" tier (11-11-11 timings), and an "Enterprise" tier with unannounced timings or speed.  

There's no word yet on whether the company might eventually deploy notebook form-factor sticks.  Pricing and global availability have also not yet been officially announced.

However, NCIX.com, a Canadian e-tailer, has begun selling the 2GB Entertainment sticks for $9.99 CAD (~$10.05 USD) and Dosupara House Parts in Akihabara, Japan, is selling them for ¥1,570 (~$20.32 USD).

The pricing on 2 GB 1333 MHz parts is currently floating around $15-$25, so the Canadian price is a real steal, while the Japanese price is more typical.

The new memory's packaging is plain, with a simple "RADEON MEMORY" emblem affixed to the stick.  Absent are the colorful heatsinks, which some memory manufacturers have indulged in.  Past reviews have indicated that such heatsinks are almost exclusively for aesthetics, as they have little effect on actual DRAM performance.

The enterprise model is printed on a green PCB, while it appears that the ULTRAPRO model will be printed on a blue PCB.


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Time will tell
By amanojaku on 8/9/2011 10:00:02 AM , Rating: 3
Whether or not this was a good move. I agree with AMD's decision to diversify its offerings, as it simply cannot rely on CPU sales the way it used to. I think its ASIC business may actually be doing better, but with only three main lines of business AMD is in a risky position.

Mick, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say "curious". Did you mean going into the DRAM business is curious, or silently advertising the new product is curious? I can see reasons for either.

The first is that AMD already has a semiconductor business and experience making memory. This should actually cost AMD less to operate than competitors, and add potential revenue from CPU/RAM bundles. Hell, we may even see ECC RAM for those AMD servers. This sounds like a low-risk venture, but I could be wrong.

As to the silent advertising, RAM is a competitive space. You need to save every penny, and you'll notice you don't see a lot of fanfare over new RAM like with CPUs. First of all, RAM is boring; you just need more of it, end of story. Well, you could argue about timings and such, but that doesn't seem to be as big of a deal today as back in 2000. Second, AMD probably hasn't ramped up production enough yet to provide volume. Third, this may not be successful, so why spend millions in advertising? Whatever doesn't sell will likely end up in a video card or some other device, covering most of the losses.




RE: Time will tell
By paydirt on 8/9/2011 11:07:53 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think this is an AMD product, I suspect this is a Global Foundries product. Global Foundries is the former manufacturing arm of AMD that was spun off in what 2008/2009 (?). I'm guessing that Global Foundries wants to run their factories closer to capacity and that is the main reason for the product.


RE: Time will tell
By ilt24 on 8/9/2011 11:15:47 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
The first is that AMD already has a semiconductor business and experience making memory. This should actually cost AMD less to operate than competitors,


AMD isn't making the memory chips. They are branding memory made by another manufacturer, something they have done with GPU memory for years. I don't see how it will cost them any less than Crucial, Corsair, GSkill or Kingston to produce their sticks.


RE: Time will tell
By chiadog on 8/9/2011 11:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
Why would they bother to stamp the AMD logo on package if they're simply rebranding?


RE: Time will tell
By Taft12 on 8/10/2011 9:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
Why not? In the marketing game, may as well get your name on everything!


RE: Time will tell
By someguy123 on 8/9/2011 5:57:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's likely that they're allocating RAM to match with their llano and future APU chips.

Their APU chips can be heavily constrained by RAM. I'm sure they'll start advertising "radeon gaming RAM" as necessary for APU performance, and they'll likely begin shipping high speed options to OEMs for cheaper/at cost while bundled with Llano to ensure decent performance.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive














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