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Japanese subsidiary of Buffalo Technology Inc., a leading maker of advanced memory modules and other electronics, has announced the world's first memory modules based on DDR3 chips. While there are several months to go till the first DDR3-supporting platforms will emerge on the market, Buffalo wants to sell them now, but at a price that will allow only a few enthusiasts to get them.

Buffalo will shortly start to ship PC3-8500 memory modules with 1066MHz clock-speed, CL7 latency setting and 1.5V voltage settings. Even though CL7 latency setting is considerably higher compared to CL5 of DDR2 at the same frequency, improved pre-fetch and other technical advantages of DDR3 versus DDR2 may help the new memory type to be as fast or even faster compared to the previous-gen one.

DDR3 memory is designed to increase performance and lower power consumption of DDR2 memory utilized today. The new memory standard features relatively low operating voltage of 1.5V, 8-bit pre-fetch architecture (compared to 4-bit pre-fetch buffer with DDR2), on-die termination (ODT), power-saving modes known as PASR (partial array self refresh) and ASR (auto self refresh) and some other capabilities. The memory will be able to operate at up to 1600MHz, but in the exchange for enhanced latencies of CAS (column address strobe) 5 to 10 (compared to CAS 3-6 on DDR2).

Buffalo will sell 512MB PC3-8500 memory modules for ?37 700 ($315), whereas two of such modules will cost ?75 000 ($627). 1GB PC3-8500 modules from Buffalo will cost end-users ?71 000 ($595), while a kit of two such modules will be priced at ($1180).

The first Intel 3-series chipset-based mainboards to support DDR3 memory will be unveiled later during the year, presumably in late Q2 or early Q3. However, given that there will be motherboards running the same G35 or P35 chipsets with DDR2 support and considering the fact that currently 2GB DDR2 PC2-8500 memory kit costs from $221 to $334 (based on numbers from Pricewatch for the U.S.), it is unclear whether there will be a lot of die-hard technology enthusiasts who would pay nearly $1200 for the same amount of memory.

It is unclear when DDR3 memory modules are set to become available in Europe, USA and other regions.

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