Saturday, August 14, 2010


Like all SDRAM implementations, DDR2 stores memory in memory cells that are activated with the use of a clock signal to synchronize their operation with an external data bus. Like DDR before it, the DDR2 I/O buffer transfers data both on the rising and falling edges of the clock signal (a technique called "double pumping"). The key difference between DDR and DDR2 is that for DDR2 the memory cells are clocked at 1 quarter (rather than half) the rate of the bus. This requires a 4 bit deep prefetch queue, but, without changing the memory cells themselves, DDR2 can effectively operate at twice the bus speed of DDR.

DDR2's bus frequency is boosted by electrical interface improvements, on-die termination, prefetch buffers and off-chip drivers. However, latency is greatly increased as a trade-off. The DDR2 prefetch buffer is 4 bits deep, whereas it is 2 bits deep for DDR and 8 bits deep for DDR3. While DDR SDRAM has typical read latencies of between 2 and 3 bus cycles, DDR2 may have read latencies between 4 and 6 cycles. Thus, DDR2 memory must be operated at twice the data rate to achieve the same latency.

Another cost of the increased bandwidth is the requirement that the chips are packaged in a more expensive and more difficult to assemble BGA package as compared to the TSSOP package of the previous memory generations such as DDR SDRAM and SDR SDRAM. This packaging change was necessary to maintain signal integrity at higher bus speeds.

Power savings are achieved primarily due to an improved manufacturing process through die shrinkage, resulting in a drop in operating voltage (1.8 V compared to DDR's 2.5 V). The lower memory clock frequency may also enable power reductions in applications that do not require the highest available data rates.

According to JEDEC[1] the maximum recommended voltage is 1.9 volts and should be considered the absolute maximum when memory stability is an issue (such as in servers or other mission critical devices). In addition, JEDEC states that memory modules must withstand up to 2.3 volts before incurring permanent damage (although they may not actually function correctly at that level).

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