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Intel readies more Rambus stop-gaps

Can't get Direct DRAM? Er... try this... or that... or the other, says Chipzilla

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Intel is to introduce what it's calling a "memory hub" to allow PC vendors using its upcoming Camino chipset to use PC100 SDRAM in place of next-generation Rambus Direct DRAM while RDRAM parts remain thin on the ground. According to News.com, the memory hub technology will allow a Pentium III to operate a system bus clock speed of 133MHz but access the memory at slower speeds to retain compatibility with the current memory spec. However, Intel is also known to be working on a 'S-RIMM' technology, which allows PC100 SDRAM chips to be placed on a RAMBUS Inline Memory Module, as reported by The Register earlier this year. The snag with S-RIMM technology is that it requires memory vendors to create RIMMs to the appropriate spec. and buy the Intel ASIC that makes it all work. The memory hub approach appears to allow PC vendors to use existing memory, freeing up memory companies to focus on Direct DRAM production. Meanwhile, other chipset vendors, most notably VIA, Acer Labs and SIS, are continuing to pursue the PC133 SDRAM spec. as a stop-gap memory technology until Direct DRAM ships in sufficient volumes at a price-point that allows its use in mainstream consumer PCs. IBM Microelectronics has already committed itself to producing PC133 SDRAM, if its customers require it (see IBM to offer Rambus alternative). Of course, all this presupposes Intel can get its Camino chipset out the door, and it's increasingly looking like it's going to have a job doing so. No wonder Chipzilla has a third option, based on a 550MHz Pentium III running on a 100MHz system bus and the BX chipset, as reported here. ®

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