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Intel kicks out Rambus from Seven Dramurai™

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Intel, Micron, NEC, Samsung, Hyundai and Infineon said yesterday they will work to produce a high end form of memory that will see PC platforms right from 2003 onwards. But Rambus Ink, formerly Intel's closest memory partner, and intended to provide such a platform for the future, has not been invited to the memory platform. An Intel representative confirmed today that while Rambus was not at the party, "it could participate" in the initiative. The company also confirmed that Intel is looking not only at double data rate (DDR) technology now, but that the future platform will include DDR and other memory technologies. At a press conference in Seoul yesterday, the six companies above put out a joint press statement to "cooperatively develop a high performance DRAM technology" for 2003 and beyond. The idea of the initiative is to produce a memory standard for architecture, electrical and physical design, together with an infrastructure needed for the technology. Specifications will be made available to all interested parties, although no details were given as to whether licence fees will be exacted from others for the privilege of participating in the initiative. Large memory companies, including Hyundai and the others, railed against licence fees they had to pay Rambus for using its design in memories they manufactured, given the slim margins available for the chips. The move suggests that Intel still believes that synchronous memory is not a good platform for the future, but also indicates a distancing from its long time partner Rambus. The announcement means that Rambus now only has two years to ramp up RIMM solutions for the PC market. That is bound to further dent its image in the industry. PC vendors, especially Hewlett Packard, are widely believed by observers to have put pressure on Intel not to adopt Rambus technology for Itanium (Merced) processors and future IA-64 chips. Although Rambus memory is beginning to appear in the PC marketplace, it is still much more expensive than synchronous memory. Yesterday, we reported that Rambus had offered to sell Hyundai 30,000 of its shares at a preferential rate of $10 if it would up its manufacture of the memories. Rambus memory will only become viable as a platform when the economies of scale kick in and most manufacturers churn out this particular type of memory. Last September, Intel put together a hastily convened consortium dubbed the Seven Dramurai, and which included Rambus itself, in a bid to give the memory technology a much needed boost. But only three or so weeks later, Intel was forced to withdraw motherboards and so called Camino (i820) chipsets which supported the Rambus RIMM "standard" because of unexplained defects in the technology. In recent months, Intel is believed to have made serious overtures to all sectors of the PC industry in an attempt to avoid future debacles such as Caminogate. Only Intel was available for comment at press time. ® See also Rambus offers Hyundai cheapo shares to make more chips Intel snubs Rambus Ink Intel cuddles up to JEDEC memory standards Rambus-DDR battle rages on Rambus Intel contract set to expire Rambus yields only at 50 per cent 1999: Annus Horribilis for Intel

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