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Rambus memory gets Dataquest vote

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The future for Rambus memory in PCs is bright, a senior analyst at Dataquest forecast today. Richard Gordon, at Dataquest said that last year the future of Rambus was unclear because of conflicting messages sent out by market leaders. "Intel left the whole market in limbo," he said. But now Intel has made its position clear on Rambus, partly because existing memory technology will run out of steam. "We'll see a fairly rapid move from 1GHz to 1.5GHz by the end of next year," said Gordon. "In that time frame, current memory technology will run out of speed at 1.2GHz." He said there were also signs that large memory manufacturers were now convinced they had to take the Rambus route. "Hyundai has done a 180 degree turn on DDR (double data rate) memory," he said. "They've said they are backing Rambus." Gordon said Dataquest estimated that Rambus memories could occupy as many as 50 per cent of corporate desktops by the end of next year, although that figure could be higher. Robert Allen, senior product manager at Kingston Technology, agreed that Rambus will be needed in the future. "Internet/2 is going to need that extra bandwidth," he said." However, Allen also said that availability of Rambus chips was still not as healthy as Kingston would like, with most Rambus RIMMs being shipped to PC vendors. "We'd like more volume because the demand is there," he added. Ball park figures of the number of 128MB RIMMs shipped in the last quarter of 1999 only amounted to around three million, partly because Samsung put a hold on its production. That is a miniscule proportion of the 80 million 128MB modules shipped in Q4 1999. 64MB RIMMs only accounted for around 500 million units. The number of 128MB Rambus RIMMs shipped during this quarter is only expected to amount to 10 million. Some projections suggest that the total number of Rambus 128MB chips to ship during 2000 will amount to 100 million. (Corrected from before. We erroneously bunged the RIMM acronym in.) However, there still remains some confusion about why Intel is saying that companies should use Rambus with the up-and-coming Willamette processor, and DDR (double data rate) memory with the server version of that chip, codenamed Foster. The answer appears to be that large PC vendors prefer to design their own servers and could be happier using a memory technology they understand, after having problems validating boards using Rambus last summer. The Rambus share price (ticker:RMBS) closed up nearly nine bucks to close at $422 on Wall Street yesterday. ®

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