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Samsung struggles with soaring Rambus demand

Intel cranks up

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Samsung is struggling to catch up with a huge increase in orders for Rambus memory from Intel.

"One day, I woke up and found that the once-idle RDRAM line is fully running like a fire house," Samsung Electronics marketing director Kim Ilung told Electronic News.

Currently, the Korean DRAM maker is capable of pumping out six to seven million RDRAM units a month, but Intel, in rapid Pentium 4 ramp-up mode, wants ten million units a month.

This looks like good news for Rambus and Samsung, the world's de facto RDRAM maker (the rivals are concentrating on pumping out cheaper SDRAM chips). By Intel's own reckoning, P4 sales won't really take off until the second half of the year (see P4 volumes to ramp up Q3 2001 - Intel).

Samsung says it will take its RDRAM output to 20 million units a month by December 2001, growing production at the expense of SDRAM lines. By this time, other RDRAM licencees should have their production act together.

In the meantime, Intel is pushing P4 and Rambus for all its worth (see Intel offers quick Rambus rebate). In Intel's Week 51 roadmap seen by The Register (see Intel to push Rambus hard), the CPU maker tells its customers to ensure adequate RDRAM supply, and place orders for the memory now, for the ramp on the P4 it is pushing.

Another slide told customers that RDRAM will be Intel's primary memory ramping into the mainstream desktop PC in 2001. "Intel will continue to proactively drive this technology to help vendors come down the learning and price curves more quickly. Be prepared to transition to lower price points if pricing continues to come down."

That's for the future; right now, prices for RDRAM modules are going up. "Shortage has already begun to push up its price to $18 per piece, three times higher than the SDRAM equivalent," Electronics News reports. ®

Related Link

Electronic News: Samsung can't ramp to fill Intel's RDRAM needs

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Rambus profits leap, but miss targets
Intel P4 bandwagon starts to roll
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