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Fresh Intel i820 chipset close to completion

Caminogate: DIMMs and SIMMs together at last

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Intel's embarrassment over the i820 chipset looks set to be resolved at last. Maybe. Sources close to the company's plans have informed us that Intel will ship an updated chipset for sampling to mobo vendors in mid-February which will, at last, support both Rambus memory and synchronous DRAM memory on the same planar. The boards will have support for two Rambus sockets and two additional SDRAM sockets, and also will include a revised, B2 stepping of the memory translator hub (MTH) which is now called the memory conversion hub (MCH). Reviews of machines using the existing MTH on i820 mobos have revealed a dramatic slow down on performance. Intel's decision and ability to include the two sets of sockets on the same mobo, rather than two separate boards, one of which supports RIMMs and the other DIMMs is bound to please hardware manufacturers. Many, including major Intel customer Dell, have complained about an inability to source sufficient Rambus parts, at a reasonable price. How does all of this work? Our information is that the boards will work with PC-133 memory, but the exigencies of practicality mean that its effective speed will be equivalent to PC-100. The two RIMM sockets will act as normally, while the MCH will show that the DIMMs appear to the PC as if they are on the same memory bus as the Rambus modules. This means that the performance of the RIMMs will be degraded, but does have the side benefit that you can populate the i820 with DIMMs and then upgrade to RIMMs if you wish to. It is so far unclear whether this method will drag the speed of the RIMMs down to the speed of the DIMMs. Intel first experienced difficulties with the i820 chipset last February, when it said it would have to put the launch back until autumn last year. However, after announcing the two different versions of the chipset, manufacturers were forced to stop their launch of Rambus-flavoured machines based on it because of technical problems. Intel was unavailable for comment at press time. ®

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