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Seven Dramurai™ ride two memory standards at once

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Just a few days after Intel lined up major memory manufacturers to support Rambus to say they will make RIMMs cheaper, six of the Seven Dramurai™ have said they will support PC-133 and Double Data Rate (DDR) in a year's time -- using Reliance chipset technology. And major PC manufacturers, including Dell, are voting with their feet and appear to be moving to PC-133 and DDR as one. This follows the revelation that the seventh member of the Dramurai, Intel, has been forced to abandon using Rambus in the Carmel server chipset and instead adopt Reliance chipset technology. (Story: Intel abandons server Rambus efforts) The Reliance chipset has the endorsement of major manufacturers Compaq, Dell, HP, IBM, NEC, Siemens and Sun. Notably, Dell is also riding the Rambus nag, and is on record from IDF as saying it is implementing the memory technology in the high end server market. Dell said it will implement 1Gb PC-133 DIMMs in its PowerEdge servers as well as next year's 2Gb DDR modules, because its customers are less concerned with granularity and more with overall system performance. Compaq said that PC-133 addresses price performance requirements, and will use PC-133 SDRAM in its server products this year. It is considering DDR for next year. Sun said that PC-133 and DDR SDRAM are a good fit for its products. HP said DDR holds "the most promise" for big, fast, reliable and affordable memory systems. Big Blue said it will use PC-100, PC-133 and DDR SDRAM chips in Chipkill implementations for "affordable" servers. Memory manufacturers backing the roadmap include IBM, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Hyundai, Infineon, Micron, Mitsubishi, NEC, Samsung and Toshiba. Six out of these eight are members of the Seven Dramurai™, which publicly backed Intel when it introduced a Rambus implementor forum at IDF last week. Intel also let slip later in the week that it was supporting DDR technology too. However, insiders are reporting that the memory manufacturers had a meeting with Intel at the beginning of the year and begged the chip giant to support any memory technology but Rambus. Intel refused, and that has led to bitter feelings which still persist. Reliance issued the statement to "clarify the confusion that pervades the server industry with regard to future memory technologies", it said. The statement added that capacity and bandwidth are rarely issues in this class of product. The cynical might think it confusing that the Seven Dramurai™ find it easy to ride two horses at once, although the charitable might observe that they are probably trick riders in a rodeo. Bert McComas, senior analyst at Inquest, said that DDR will establish critical mass in the DRAM standards wars, while Reliance claimed that it had support from the major server vendors because it satisfied their needs for large capacity and reliable memory subsystems. The cynical might wonder where all of this leaves Rambus, and, indeed, whether Intel's flagship memory technology will be used in Intel's flagship microprocessor, the Merced. Just what hold has Rambus got on Intel? Later, we will establish a historical timeline on Chipsetzilla's stance on PC-133 and Rambus. ® (You can find the Reliance press release here.)

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