Intel, chip-set vendors prepare for Rambus shortage

Alternative technologies line up to ease OEMs' transition to Direct DRAM

Third-party chip-set vendors look set to reject the Intel-backed Rambus Direct DRAM in favour of the next iteration of 133MHz SDRAM. And even Intel itself appears to be preparing alternative technologies to ease the transition to the new memory technology in case supply fails to meet demand. The PC133 SDRAM option is currently supported by chip-set makers VIA, Acer Labs and SIS, according to reports on the US newswires. The standard's backers claim it will be easier to adopt than Direct DRAM because its an evolutionary development rather than a revolutionary one. VIA sources has even been quoted as saying that it has worked with AMD to ensure PC133 SDRAM works with the forthcoming K7 processor. AMD has officially thrown its weight behind Rambus' technology. PC133 is likely to appeal primarily to lower-end PC vendors, keen to make as few changes to their systems as possible. But it may also be selected by suppliers of high-end machines if a predicted severe shortage of Direct DRAM occurs leading to high prices. Several observers have suggested such a shortage is very likely, given the DRAM industry's record on getting new technologies out of the door in sufficient numbers. Intel's solution is its S-RIMM technology, which allows PC100 SDRAMs to be used on a Direct DRAM card, known as a RIMM (Rambus Inline Memory Module), through the use of an ASIC. S-RIMM will be made available "roughly" when Intel's Direct DRAM-supporting chip-set, codenamed Camino, become available, according to an Intel spokesman. ®

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