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Now that Intel has finally confirmed that it will introduce the i820 chipset, and presumably its VC820 (Vancouver) and its CC820 (Cape Cod) motherboards too, it's worth looking at what you will get for your dollars. Although Intel will use Comdex/Fall to demo its flagship chipset and the Coppermine processors it recently announced, that does not mean that it will be all that easy to go out, buy a mobo, stick in a 733MHz part and a couple of Rambus RIMMs for the VC820 platform. However, you can expect to see Intel reprise the presentations it made its last Developer Forum in September, when it pushed the performance benefits of the i820 chipset compared to the BX chipset, and also promoted Rambus as heavily as it could. Most memory manufacturers and their distributors will first have to ramp up their production, and with only two functional RIMM sockets, there may be less demand for the 133MHz bus design than anticipated. One problem will be buying the Direct RDRAM memory modules at a reasonable price, while the other problem will be actually finding the modules. Memory distributors, in the UK at least, are telling The Register that they do not expect RIMMs to arrive in any quantity until the beginning of next year. Sukh Rayat, MD of UK distributor Flashpoint, told us two weeks ago that so far there is practically no demand for Rambus memories. John Byrne, joint MD of Vanguard, also in the UK, said his company was not expecting supplies until Q1 of next year. However, third party manufacturers, such as Gigabyte and Chaintech, have, we understand, no real problems with supporting more than two RIMMs, which must be terribly aggravating for Intel. The chip giant is, of course, covering its options by also developing chipsets which will support PC-133 and double data rate (DDR) memory. But these will not be ready until next year. Meanwhile, Intel's own roadmap for Coppermine, which executives showed at a financial analyst meeting in the USA last week, show that production at the .18 micron process will be nearly 100 per cent by the end of next year. Whenever Intel moves from one process technology to another, One benefit is that the company can make more chips from the expensive silicon wafers, and so achieve economies of scale. And the BX chipset? Despite this being a very popular chipset, it is approaching the gulag. If you look at this roadmap on Intel's channel site, the giant appears to be giving it until February or March next year, at the latest. ®

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