Rambus unveils XDR DRAM with Elpida, Toshiba

Toshiba and Elpida Memory will manufacture Rambus's new memory technology, formerly known as Yellowstone, by 2005, the companies announced last Thursday.

The new technology, to be known as XDR (extreme data rate) DRAM (dynamic RAM), will run at 3.2GHz when samples start shipping in 2004, Rambus said in a press release. This is far faster than any memory technology currently available in PCs or consumer entertainment devices.

Rambus is using a completely different interface technology for XDR DRAM than used by DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous DRAM) vendors today, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research Inc. in Cave Creek, Arizona. "This is a high-performance memory for high-performance applications," he said.

Rambus doesn't actually make memory chips, but licenses the intellectual property needed to make the interfaces used in memory chips to communicate with an I/O device or the chipset, McCarron said.

The Los Altos, California, company claims its XDR technology will offer performance greater than other specialty DRAM products while remaining competitive with mainstream memory products, it said. RDRAM (Rambus DRAM), the last memory interface the company marketed extensively, eventually fell out of favor with PC manufacturers after the performance of cheaper DDR memory products caught up to RDRAM.

Sony and its PlayStation subsidiary, Sony Computer Entertainment, have already announced they will license the XDR DRAM technology for future products. Sony is expected to use XDR DRAM in the upcoming PlayStation 3, because it already uses RDRAM in the popular PlayStation 2 console.

The design is available immediately to semiconductor companies and system vendors for design purposes, Rambus said. Toshiba and Elpida are expected to begin shipping products in 2004, with volume production coming in 2005, they said.

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