Memory Lane: DDR SDRAM

By Chris Stolze, on 22. Juli 2021

As some of you may recall, before branching out into power supplies, coolers, fans, cases, and gaming peripherals, CORSAIR was primarily known for high performance memory products! We’ve got a long history with DRAM and today we’d like to take a brief look back at the original DDR, a time when Athlon and Pentium processors were king.

What is DDR?

No, it’s not a rhythm game. DDR or Double Data Rate SDRAM brought about a significant change in how memory works in a computer. Those with keen eyes might notice it in the name, double data rate, but what does that mean exactly?

CORSAIR XMS Platinum Series DDR Memory

Previous generations of SDRAM could only perform one read or write command per clock cycle, DDR SDRAM on the other hand, could perform two commands per clock cycle, it’s as simple as that!

Additional Improvements

Additional improvements with the first generation of DDR were increased densities of up to 1 GB and speeds hitting over 200MHz, providing an effective speed of over 400MHz when you account for double data rate!

Dual Channel Comes to Market

One other evolution of DRAM that came with DDR memory was the concept of running memory in dual channel. This meant that your processor could send commands to two modules at once, further increasing bandwidth! Dual channel memory would be a continuing trend on mainstream platforms to this day.

CORSAIR XMS Pro Series Twin X

To make it easy to ensure that systems at the time could take advantage of dual channel memory configurations, CORSAIR introduced its first twin pack of matched memory modules with the XMS Twin X so that you’d be guaranteed to have two modules with the same ICs and rated for the same frequencies (we still do this today for all memory kits that include 2, 4, and even 8 modules for quad channel)!

A Glimpse at the Future

This was also a time when windowed side panels were just starting to come into fashion, so we released our first LED memory modules with the XMS PRO series that featured activity LEDs along the top bar so you could check your memory utilization at a glance.

CORSAIR XMS Pro Series featured activity LEDs

We followed up XMS Pro Series with XMS XPERT, which took the activity LEDs a step further with a fully programmable digital read out that let you check info like frequency, temperature, and voltage in real time!

CORSAIR XMS XPERT featured a digital readout along with activity LEDs

Closing Thoughts

DDR SDRAM was a big deal for computing and paved the way for what was to come in further generations of DDR memory as faster processors with a growing number of cores were on the horizon.

For more information about which CORSAIR memory products work best for your system, check out our Memory Finder. To join the conversation about memory or other CORSAIR products, check out our communities over on the CORSAIR User Forums, Reddit, or Discord!


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