In a somewhat surprising move, Lexar announcing its first-ever DRAM products may be about to shake things up in a big way. The company will manufacture products for SDRAM, including SO-DIMM and UDIMM varieties for a variety of devices. As of now, the company will begin marketing DDR4-2666 RAM for the consumer market.
Here’s the current breakdown of capacities and types of RAM from Lexar:
- 32GB DDR4-2666 UDIMM (desktops)—$149.99
- 32GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM (laptops)—$159.99
- 16GB DDR4-2666 UDIMM (desktops)—$64.99
- 16GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM (laptops)—$64.99
- 8GB DDR4-2666 UDIMM (desktops)—$32.99
- 8GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM (laptops)—$29.99
- 4GB DDR4-2666 SO-DIMM (laptops)—$19.99
DDR4 SDRAM was released to the public in 2014, and RAM speeds have become increasingly important in the era that sees AMD resurgent. Their dominant new Ryzen CPUs benefit from fast RAM, and the 2,666 MHz offered by Lexar RAM isn’t going to cut it for the bleeding edge users. The general consensus is that 3,000 MHz RAM is far more effective when paired with a Ryzen CPU.
And don’t worry, Lexar is committed to offering more speeds soon, and will continue to develop their product stack over time. Lexar plans to introduce DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3000 kits soon, along with varieties including “heatsinks and RGB lighting for gamers and enthusiasts.”
“We are very excited to introduce DRAM memory to our product portfolio. Given our extensive offerings of memory card and USB drive solutions, we enter the DRAM market, pairing our fast-growing SSD lines to offer users a full suite of high-performance solutions to expedite their workflow from camera to computer. While remote office and anywhere learning are on the rise, our goal is to continue offering products that deliver superior quality and performance, so that you can build a Smart Workroom or a Smart Classroom for the best user experience. Lexar looks to continue advancing our DRAM offerings, with additional high performing models to launch later this year.” said Mike Chen, General Manager.
There are some questions that will arise as a result of this announcement. And one very important one could sink this entire endeavor. And that is, who’s the chip supplier? There are dozens of chip fabs for a variety of companies all over the globe, and they all work on a variety of process nodes. Conventional wisdom based on common production practices would place Lexar RAM somewhere around the 10nm-15nm range.
Samsung, Micron, TSMC and several other companies all have chip fabs in this range, and it isn’t clear who Lexar is working with. The reason I bring this up, is it’s kind of all about perception. Some chip suppliers carry more weight behind their name than others. And Lexar trying to break into a heavily-marketed sector will have an uphill battle ahead of them.
Samsung has been downscaling RAM die sizes all the way to the 10nm node. Although I seriously doubt Lexar RAM is approaching that node. Samsung’s 3rd Generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology (also known as 1z-nm) allows them to massively scale up production of high-capacity memory, and they began using that in 2019. Lexar will need to make use of a competitive chip fab process and partner to keep pace with such innovation. If they don’t this may see them wasting their time.
Although their innovations in the flash memory space do hold some real promise. Lexar was the first company to formally unveil a prototype 7.5GB/sec PCIe 4.0 SSD. This could set a new gold standard for SSD speed on the consumer market. And these innovations lead to better RAM, I’m all for it.