SIS joins Asustek, Samsung and Rambus for RDRAM push

Taiwanese chip maker Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SIS) has teamed with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Asustek Computer Inc. and Rambus Inc. to help push a next-generation chipset that will support RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic RAM) memory, the company said Monday.

RDRAM was once the only memory type supported by Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 processor. But the release of Intel's 845 chipset in 2001 extended Pentium 4 support to SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM) and DDR DRAM (Double Data Rate DRAM), which are generally cheaper than RDRAM.

However, RDRAM offers a performance edge over other memory types in certain types of applications and the four partners hope to see the next-generation RDRAM chipset from SIS, the SISR659, find a home in the high-performance computing and multimedia gaming markets.

Based on a high-speed interface and memory controller developed by Rambus, the SISR659 will support four channels of 1200MHz RDRAM memory, allowing maximum memory throughput of 9.6G bytes per second, SIS said, noting this represents a 50 percent increase in performance over existing dual-channel RDRAM chipsets. The SISR659 will support up to 16G bytes of RDRAM, it said.

The announcement was framed as a joint-development partnership, but a source at one of the partner companies downplayed the importance of any joint development activities, saying, "It is more of a marketing arrangement."

Neither Samsung nor Asustek develops PC chipsets but they do bring other strengths to the partnership. Samsung is the world's largest PC memory maker and Asustek is one of the world's largest motherboard makers and will be the first board maker to offer a SISR659-based product, according to Michelle Huang, a spokeswoman for SIS in Taipei.

The SIS659 chipset is expected to ship in sample quantities during the third quarter of 2003.

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