Intel to let market decide fate of Rambus support

Intel was once the leading advocate for RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic RAM), but on Friday its executives declined to confirm whether its future chipsets would support the high-speed memory interface technology, saying Rambus is not the current first choice of consumers.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett said the company will continue to manufacture existing chipsets for the PC and workstation markets that support RDRAM, but stopped short of saying future chipsets in this sector will support the beleaguered memory technology. Chipsets are companion devices to central processors and handle much of the communication between the processor and the rest of the computer, including the memory chips.

"We are obviously supporting RDRAM today with our existing chipsets and the network processors continue to support RDRAM going forward and the rest of the products, you'll just have to wait until they are announced," he told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo.

Intel's support of RDRAM began in 1999 when it launched a chipset for the Pentium III, although it wasn't until the launch of the Pentium 4 processor in late 2000 that the company put its full weight behind the memory technology. When the new processor was launched, the only memory supported was RDRAM -- a move that brought criticism from some quarters because of the high price of RDRAM compared to DDR (double data rate) DRAM, a rival high-speed technology being supported by most major memory makers.

Support for RDRAM alone lasted for nine months, at which point Intel began to support cheaper but slower SDRAM (synchronous DRAM). It wasn't until December 2001 that, in response to customer demands, support was added for DDR.

The role that customers had to play in Intel's decision was also highlighted by Barrett in response to a question about whether the company would support RDRAM in future desktop products.

"I've been asked that question for the last couple of years and we have always said that the winning DRAM technology would be the one customers want, the most economic in volume production, and RDRAM has not been the most successful in that respect."

John Antone, president of Intel KK, the company's Japanese subsidiary, restated Intel's plan to continue support of RDRAM in current products, but also noted the company is open to other memory technologies.

"Certainly the products that we are making today, we expect to continue making for quite a long time," he said. "But it's more important to note that we are agnostic about the memory technology and we are going to continue to support those technologies that are in demand in the marketplace. That transcends RDRAM or any other technology that may or may not be popular today."

This is quite a turnaround for Intel. A year and a day earlier, Intel Fellow Pete MacWilliams told the Intel Developer Forum conference in San Jose, "We'd like to see RDRAM from top to bottom."

With the launch of the DDR chipset at the end of last year, memory-chip makers are now ramping up production of DDR memory and expect it to become the most commonly used PC memory this year. Speaking at a memory forum in Taipei a week ago, executives from three of the world's largest memory-chip makers, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc., said they expect DDR shipments will dominate their business this year.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?