New CPU and GPU architectures roil the market pretty much every year—sometimes more than once a year. Yet in spite of the impact that system memory can have on a PC’s performance, the industry has relied on the same basic memory architecture for what seems like an eternity—in tech time, at least.
DDR3 SDRAM (the third generation of double data rate synchronous DRAM) was introduced way back in 2007. Carrie Underwood had scored her first Grammy. Russian leader Boris Yeltsin died. And Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home-run record. Now the PC industry is finally preparing to transition to DDR4 memory.
What took so long?
Part of the reason for the long gestation period is that memory manufacturers compete more on price than performance. And unlike the CPU and GPU markets, where just two companies dominate the market, memory standards are developed by a committee: The Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC). If you want a standard to develop slowly, do it by committee (consider how long the IEEE is taking to ratify the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard).
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