Upcoming chips for PCs and servers from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices support only DDR3 memory and the companies did not share any further information about DDR4 support. AMD is working closely with memory partners to support memory transitions and expects to see the benefits of DDR4 in its graphics products, a spokesman said.
"Motherboards and chipsets that support DDR4 are not expected to show up in the marketplace until late 2013 or early 2014, which does not bode well for rapid adoption of DDR4," Matas said.
Test samples for DDR4 memory first appeared in 2011 from companies like Micron and Samsung even before the specification was finalized. DRAM makers have been hanging in the balance since and are now prodding Intel and other integrated-circuit suppliers to bring chipset support for DDR4 quickly.
The DDR4 market could aggressively grow if and when the PC market picks up again, which could be any time from later this year to 2016, Matas said.
"That's a big 'if' because tablet and smartphone unit shipments continue to grow aggressively, usually at the expense of standard PC shipments," Matas said.
JEDEC is also developing a new LPDDR4 specification for tablets and smartphones and it will be many years before DRAM is used in mobile devices. Device makers still largely use LPDDR2, and are switching over to LPDDR3 memory. Some DRAM momentum will move in the direction of LPDDR3, analysts said.
There are also opportunities being explored to make DRAM for computers faster and more relevant. Manufacturers are backing technologies like Hybrid Memory Cube, which involves 3D stacking of DRAM and placing the memory closer to the CPU. Starting with DDR3, HMC arrays will support multiple forms of memory including DDR4 and will provide faster bandwidth than traditional DRAM via an interconnect that cuts through the memory layers. HMC is backed by the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium, but other technologies being investigated by JEDEC include High-Bandwidth Memory and Wide-I/O, which have not attracted as much attention.
But for now, JEDEC remains focused on transitioning to DDR4, iSuppli's Howard said.
DRAM could have reached its ceiling with DDR4 and there is a possibility that a new form of memory will replace DRAM after DDR4, Howard said. Also, there are challenges in scaling down DRAM as manufacturing technologies improve.
"DDR5 is highly unlikely," Howard said.