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Intel 810e to slow down Rambus adoption

Acer exec casts doubt on futures

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Intel's introduction of the 810e chipset will slow down introduction of Direct Rambus DRAM, said Wayne Jane, of Acer group affiliate, Apacer Technology Inc, a Taipei-based memory module manufacturer. Intel is strongly promoting the Rambus memory technology, however serious delays and cost problems have apparently forced the company to provide support for an alternative system, PC 133 SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM), in the 810e chipset. Ironically, earlier this year, Intel took legal action against a Taiwanese company, VIA Technologies, after it introduced a chipset with PC 133 SDRAM support - the case is still unresolved. If the cost of Rambus chips cannot be reduced they will be impossible to sell in large quantities, said Mr. Jane, who is in charge of product marketing at Apacer. "Now the price is about 5 times SDRAM, and the performance is not so good." Independent tests have shown some aspects of Rambus performance to be disappointing. "In my personal opinion,", said Mr. Jane, "I think PC 133 SDRAM will occupy a bigger part of the market than Rambus [next year]". Low cost PCs will drive the market, he believes. Apacer buys memory chips and builds them into memory modules, which are then sold to computer manufacturers and dealers. Jim Sadler, spokesman for another Taiwanese module manufacturer, Transcend Information Inc., agreed that the popularity of Rambus would depend on cost. "If the price is right, we believe that our Rambus memory modules will be extremely popular next year," he said. Samsung and LG of Korea are the only companies able to supply Rambus chips in volume this quarter, according to Mr. Jane. Other manufacturers include Toshiba, Siemens and Micron Technology. In Taiwan, Winbond Electronics and Vanguard are have licensed Rambus technology. Winbond Electronics will have engineering samples at the end of this year. Vanguard's schedule is still unclear, say industry sources - the company's spokesman was unavailable to comment yesterday. The market for Rambus products will probably be more mature at the end of this year, said Winbond spokesman, Mike Liu. "Right now it's not the mainstream of DRAM products" "There will be two selling peaks, for Rambus products," said Wayne Jane, "one is from now until the end of this year... for OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer] customer samples." The surge in demand for samples will begin at the end of September when Intel releases a new Pentium III CPU that works well with Rambus. "The second peak will be in the second half of next year... for system use" ®

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