The introduction of the Intel P35 chipset a few weeks ago marked the beginning of a new era for RAM manufacturers, allowing the production of DDR3 modules, although they do not have the approval of JEDEC yet. There are already a few DDR3 motherboards available, some of which can only work with DDR3 RAM and some which have slots for both DDR2 and DDR3 RAM (remember the numerous Intel 915 based motherboards during the DDR to DDR2 transition?). But before we could even see the first 1066MHz DDR3 modules available for sale, SuperTalent released high speed DDR3 1333MHz modules for overclockers and enthusiasts. SuperTalent is not an old manufacturer but they gained respect in the market extremely quickly not only because of their high-class products but also for their fast product releases. Once again they live up to their reputation, releasing a full range of some of the first enthusiast DDR3 modules available.
As someone can pretty much guess, DDR2 and DDR3 modules are not compatible by any means. While the new P35 chipset can work with either of them, motherboards which have slots for DDR2 and DDR3 RAM will not work with both kinds of RAM installed. The DDR3 modules have 240 pins, which is the same number of pins as DDR2 modules, but they are impossible to install or work in any DDR2 slot as the architecture is considerably different. The DDR3 modules also require less power than DDR2 (1.5V instead of 1.8V) but we expect enthusiast modules to require 1.7V or more in the near future.
On a speed level, it seems that DDR3 modules start from where the fastest DDR2 modules left off. DDR3 PC3-6400 (800MHz) and DDR3 PC3-8500 (1066MHz) are offered as ‘mainstream’ modules and PC3-1067 (1333MHz) and above are currently offered as high speed overclocking RAM. The best enthusiast DDR2 modules are currently struggling to reach 1250MHz and require voltage settings much higher than the 1.8V DDR2 standard. DDR3 timings appear considerably inferior to those of high-performance DDR2 modules but they are not directly comparable since the 8-bit pre-fetch buffer and the introduction of more technologies (such as power saving features, i.e. the auto self refresh and partial array self refresh) has them doing more things per cycle. PC3-12800 (1600MHz) modules are already being released to the market, so we feel that it won’t be late before we witness 1866MHz and even >2GHz modules available for sale, but it will certainly take several months, perhaps even years for DDR3 to overthrow DDR2 modules in the mainstream market. DDR2 RAM production is not going to decrease in the following months at the very least.