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How Rambus lost the PC memory war

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Analysis You would expect Hyundai's controversial statement that DDR will hog the memory market for servers this year, followed by an estimate from Semico that Rambus memory will hold only a tiny fraction of the market by the year 2003, would dent its share price. But there's no accounting for investors, is there? On Friday Rambus Ink (RMBS) dropped a couple of bucks to close at $74.5625, but despite the barrage of bad press RMBS has had, it still seems it's hanging on in there. (By the way, thank goodness the SEC has decided that all share prices must be shown in decimals by July 3rd this year -- fractions in HTML are a nightmare). When licensees of Rambus technology, such as Memory Corporation, say that the memory "standard" is dead, we can suppose that their opinion is shared by many other of the licensees, save those, like Samsung, which still seem to be equivocating on the future of the platform. Hyundai, despite sweeteners to produce more RIMMs, just didn't want to go for it. Even staunch Rambus friend Intel seems to have realised that it must abandon this memory technology to its fate. The recent news that it will develop an i820 chipset that combines both RIMMs and DIMMs on one planar is a half-hearted concession to its former best buddy. Soon after the new improved i820 ships in machines, we expect Intel to introduce its PC-133 Solano chipset -- another nail in the coffin. If RMBS for the PC platform is as dead as these people are suggesting, then the future for the company seems bleak indeed. The Sony PlayStation II,which is still on the starting blocks, will use Rambus memory but there's no evidence, and in fact there's a lot of evidence to the contrary, that PC manufacturers are going to sit around and wait for the Sony Corp to steal all their business. But, as the saying goes, although DDR may be "roses, roses" at the moment, what is sure that as day follows night, there will be "thorns, thorns" too. It's all about pins, really. Anyone remember a pincushion? DIMMs have 168, RIMMs have 184 and DDR-II will have over 200. What happens, for example, when DDR-2 makes an appearance? It will have a different number of pins to SDRAM , so forget all that compatibility stuff with existing technology. However, what it won't have is a whacking licence fee that the memory manufacturers have to pay Rambus Ink, but the JEDEC steering committee to agree a standard. Jedec, Jedi? It's all going far too far. Next thing, someone will be suggesting that AMD's Dresden fab is called Deathstar. ® SEC orders Security Markets to Start Trading in Decimals

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