Freescale enters the DDR-2 memory market with a PLL clock driver

Austin, Texas — Today's memory market is advancing to the second generation of double data rate (DDR-2) synchronous (SDRAM) technology. To help computing, networking and communications system developers leap to the forefront of DDR-2 memory module design, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. has introduced an advanced yet cost-effective clock driver solution optimized for the power, signal and frequency requirements of DDR-2 applications.

Freescale's MPC96877 phase-locked loop (PLL) SDRAM clock driver is engineered to provide a low-power zero-delay buffer solution for DDR-2 dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs) and onboard custom memory. The device targets desktop computing, server, router, network storage, graphic card and telecom switch applications.

Freescale has been a major provider of PLL products for more than 15 years. A pioneer in clock PLLs for the networking industry, Freescale is a leading supplier of high-end PLLs for enterprise router, switch and server applications.

According to the research firm Databeans Inc., (Reno, Nevada), the timing device market, which includes both clock generation devices and clock drivers, is expected to reach nearly $1 billion this year.

“Freescale's new low-power clock driver product should do well in the DDR-2 marketplace,” said Susie Inouye, senior industry analyst at Databeans. “By enabling lower power dissipation at very high frequencies, the MPC96877 provides a compelling value advantage to designers of desktop computing, high-end server and networking applications.”

“The MPC96877 is designed to run cool, fast and accurately for a wide range of DDR-2 applications,” said John Fairholme, director of operations for freescale's timing Solutions. “Memory module manufacturers continually seek ways to reduce power while increasing frequency. Heat also can have an adverse affect on the long-term reliability and performance of memory modules. By operating at exceptionally low power and thus enabling cooler operation, the MPC96877 provides an optimal solution for our customers' needs.”

The power dissipation of the MPC96877 is among the lowest in the industry. The device's application frequency scales from 160 MHz to 450 MHz. Its maximum operating frequency capability is 500 MHz, which exceeds the Jedec specification and makes it the fastest DDR-2 clock offering available. In addition, the MPC96877 has a low frequency capability that's significantly below the Jedec specification, which enables customers to develop cost-effective test platforms with frequencies as low as 25 MHz. The MPC96877 is also designed to track spread spectrum clocking for reduced electromagnetic interference (EMI).

The MPC96877 device meets or exceeds the JESD82-8 PLL Jedec standard for PC2-3200/4300, provides a 1-to-10 differential clock distribution, and is designed to provide best-in-class performance based on:

  • Low skew, low jitter and high frequency
  • Sophisticated characterization
  • Exceptional signal integrity

To provide customers with a comprehensive DDR-2 memory clock driver solution, Freescale also plans to offer the MPCSSTU32864/A buffer, which works in tandem with the MPC96877. A non-parity device, the MPCSSTU32864/A is planned to be the first in a family of buffer registers that will also include a parity version. The “A” version of the device, with its 1.8-ns propagation delay, is designed to meet the demands of increasingly tight timing budgets.

In addition, Freescale recently has announced a family of next-generation 90-nm PowerQUICC III communications processors containing PowerPC cores with integrated DDR memory controllers that support DDR-2 SDRAM at up to 333 MHz (up to 667 MHz data rate, with initial offerings at 533 MHz data rate).

The MPC96877 DDR-2 memory clock is manufactured on 1.8 V 180-nm low-voltage CMOS technology for low-power consumption and low-cost designs. The MPC96877 device is available in two package options: a lead-free 52-ball BGA and a lead-free 40-pin QFN. The device is designed to operate from 0°C to 70°C.

Pricing and Availability:
MPC96877 DDR-2 clock driver samples are available now, and production is planned for Q2 2005. MPCSSTU32864/A buffer register samples will be available in Q1 2005, with production slated for Q2 2005. Initial samples of Freescale's 90-nm PowerQUICC III processors with DDR-2 support are scheduled for Q2 2005.

In very high volumes, (100,000 and up) pricing for the MPC96877 DDR-2 clock driver are expected to be $1 or less.

Click here for the MPC96877 data sheet.

For more information, please call 1 (800) 521-6274 or visit:

Freescale Semiconductor is marking its passage into the DDR-2 memory module market with the introduction of this PLL clock driver.

Freescale didn't participate in the DDR-1 market. DDR, short for double data rate-synchronous DRAM, a type of SDRAM, supports data transfers on both edges of each clock cycle (the rising and falling edges), effectively doubling the memory chip's data throughput. DDR-2 SDRAM enables features that go beyond DDR — for data rates of 400 MHz, 533 MHz, 667 MHz and beyond.

Since Freescale didn't have the product development it needed at the right time, the company decided to go straight to DDR-2 rather than enter the DDR-1 market late, Fairholme said.

Essentially, DDR-2 is the next step to higher performance DDR technology. “There is a big difference between DDR-1 and DDR-2, which offers lower power, faster speeds and better technology,” Fairholme said. From DDR-1 to DDR-2, the power level has dropped from 2.5 V to 1.8 V, and the frequency range has doubled from 400 MHz for DDR-1, to 800 MHz for DDR-2.

As far as firsts go, however, Freescale isn't the first to come out with a PLL clock driver aimed at this market.

Freescale is competing with established players in the DDR-2 memory module market — some PLL clock driver makers include Integrated Circuit Systems Inc. (Norristown, Pa.), Texas Instruments Inc. (Dallas, Texas), and Integrated Device Technology Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.).

Freescale and the other DDR-2 clock makers are vying for business in the extremely volatile DIMM market. Manufacturers include Seoul, Korea-based Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., as well as Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Idaho).

Just last month, Samsung Electronics announced the next-generation memory module, a 1-Gbit fully buffered, dual in-line memory module (FB DIMM) based on DDR-2 technology. FB DIMM, a new design that resolves the limited memory performance of conventional registered DIMMs, will sharply boost memory density and bandwidth to improve data processing in servers and workstations, according to Samsung.

Even though there are other companies out there with similar products, Freescale's MPC96877 provides features that set it apart from the others, according to Fairholme.

“Memory module makers are always on the look out for better performance and lower power. Our device has better frequency response and performance and low power,” Fairholme said. Freescale's PLL clock driver provides output frequency of 270 MHz, which equates to 533 MHz DDR-2. “If you look at power dissipation at that frequency, we are one of the best at 168 mA,” he said.

Meanwhile, this market is quickly migrating toward higher frequencies. Freescale expects output frequencies to climb to 333 MHz, which is equivalent to 667 MHz DDR-2, up from 533 MHz, which is where the majority of the market is today, Fairholme said.

By the first quarter next year, Freescale will kick off a new family of buffer registers (MPCSSTU32864/A). Although these buffers were designed to work with the MPC96877, other buffers will work with Freescale's clock driver as well. These are also Freescale's first buffers designed for the DDR-2 space.

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