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Six Dramurai forgive Rambus: Seven Dramurai on cards

All about Willamette, Foster, Timna et al

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Intel Developer Forum Senior Intel executives are, rather doggedly, in our humble opinion, sticking to the line that when Willamette launches this autumn, for the desktop at least, Rambus will be the way to go. They are also saying, by the way, that if Willamette makes it to the server level (which it will), it will use DDR (double data rate) memory and that Foster, practically the same architecture as Willamette anyway, will use DDR memory too. But the whole exercise of pushing the Rambus platform for Intel's up and coming P7 architecture, may not make any difference anyway because third party vendors are likely to offer synchronous memory and DDR memory for both architectures anyway. Peter McWilliams, an Intel fellow who presides over memory issues, said yesterday evening: "Some Willamettes, at the server end, will support DDR, some will support Rambus. Willamette on the desktop will support Rambus." He said: "Rambus is the right technology for the desktop, and gives a substantial amount of bandwidth. DDR is an evolutionary technology and has a place on the server. For the desktop, DDR would be a very expensive option." The Six Dramurai, a consortium of memory manufacturers and Intel, announced several weeks ago that it was actively looking at new memory technologies including DDR and synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), but McWilliams did not rule out the possibility that Rambus could make the six seven again. McWilliams said: "There's no reason why a future Rambus technology could not be the basis for that." Rambus is already actively exploring how to cut down the price of its RIMMs by creating modules that cut out some of the costs, both on a manufacturing basis and on a technical and thermal level too. There is also a possibility that Rambus might re-vamp its royalty model, although no executives commented on this phenomenon yesterday. However, McWilliams did acknowledge that Intel would supply Caminogate i820 motherboards in a two plus two configuration, which would support SDRAM and also Rambus, as reported here some weeks ago. Peter Glaskowsky, senior analyst at Microdesign Resources, said that in some respects the argument is academic, and that he understood why Intel was pushing the Rambus argument. He thought that when Willamette launched later this year, there would be third party solutions for the chip which would support synchronous memory, DDR and Rambus. Now what exactly is the difference between a Willamette and a Foster? No one seems to want to answer that one... ®

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