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Naughty Dramurai back DDR to hilt

Mandy Rambus-Davis paradigm shaft

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Via Technology Forum Can it be a coincidence that memory companies Hyundai, Micron and Infineon all said today at this forum in Taipei that DDR (double data rate) memory was going great guns and would dominate the PC market by this time next year?

No. All three companies are in litigation with intellectual property company Rambus but that word nary crossed their lips while high rollers at the Dramurai produced figures, if true, that show exactly why the Mountain View company wants them to recognise their patents.

First off we heard from Mike Sadler, VP of worldwide sales and marketing, who said that consolidation was affecting the memory manufacturers and that it "seemed likely" that three or four of the Dramurai would eventually control over 70 per cent of the entire memory market.

"It has been increasingly difficult for smaller producers to continue to make the big capital investments," he said. And, despite what pundits were saying, it was far easier and more profitable for the bigger manufacturers, amongst which we must count both Micron and Hyundai, to make the "evolutionary" move from synchronous memory to DDR memory, rather than re-invest in alternative technologies. By this we suppose me means Rambus.

He underlined this with the following comment. "A big part in DDR is the industry collaboration that made it happen. We [the Dramurai] are fierce competitors but with DDR we are industry colleagues." The bottom line, he said, is that DDR will make an immediate impact and is capable of doubling performance bandwidth and latency without overtaxing resources.

"Even the Pentium 4 will have a hard time achieving the full bandwidth of DDR memory," he claimed. "DDR can achieve higher bandwidth than single bandwidth RDRAM today." Because fast chips clocked to those speeds internally, it meant that arguments about headroom were spurious.

Micron thinks that mainstream migration to DDR will begin early 2001, while DDR, he said, is ready right now. Future DDR 2600 technology will use the same socket and existing motherboard technology, he said.

Maria Martinez, director of worldwide marketing at Korean memory giant Hyundai, took a different tack, but to much the same effect.

He said: "DDR is very robust and will move into the mainstream. No one company can do this on their own." He said improvements to the DDR bus would mean a longer lifetime for the technology, and said: "PCs are starting to ramp up for DDR towards the end of this year. We'll have PCs, workstations and graphics in full volume as well as communications by the third quarter of next year."

Intel is currently validating two-way and four-way Fosters with DDR 200, he said, and then went on to compare performance on the AMD 761, the Via KT-133 and the i815 motherboard platforms. The benchmarks indicated a 30 per cent gain over existing SDRAM, he said.

Hyundai, like Micron, will have 256Mb DDR available in Q4. "We already have 64Mb and 128Mb in volume production already," he said. SO-DIMM modules were scheduled for November, 300MHz DDR was in production already, Microsoft is using DDR in its X-Box, and 256Mb DDR ramps in Q3 of 2001.

"We will continue to commit resources to this technology and actively promote DDR with our partners," he ended. ®

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