Intel cash to smooth Rambus production, take-up

As P4 volumes rise, so will RDRAM shipments, says Chipzilla

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Intel Developer Forum Intel Developer Forum, San Jose Intel has declared itself satisfied that there will be enough Rambus RDRAM out there this year to match the chip giant's "very aggressive" ramp of Pentium 4.

It's certainly no coincidence that memory maker Kingston today said it intends to spend $15 million, boosting RDRAM RIMM production specifically to match the demand for P4-based systems.

And so is Samsung, which today announced it plans to co-operate with Intel to increase its RDRAM output. For 'co-operate' read 'paid for by'. It didn't say how much money will change hands, but it's clear from Samsung's statement that Intel is, at least in part, funding the Korean giant's RDRAM push.

The chips it produces will end up in memory modules made by the likes of Kingston. Its plan is to punch out up to one million RIMMs, all of them dedicated to Intel-based systems. Kingston said nothing about sweetners from Intel, along the lines of the Samsung investment, but you have to wonder.

It's certainly true that Intel is working to ensure not only that there's plenty of RDRAM out there this year, but that there's sufficient demand to bring down prices. Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum today, Paul Otellini, Intel Executive VP and General Manager of the its Architecture group, said he was confident that there will be enough Rambus memory to meet demand as P4 ramps up.

Intel essentially plans to use the Brookdale chipset, which will bring SDRAM support to P4-based systems in Q3, to drive up P4 volumes, in turn drive down P4 prices, which will have a knock-on effect on the cost of higher-end P4 boxes using RDRAM. If it all works out, by the end of the year, when Intel is expected to begin supporting DDR SDRAM in desktop systems, RDRAM will win out on price. And maybe, even, Intel won't have to bother with DDR at all.

Intel is certainly doing much to smooth the way for PC vendors. Otellini today effectively said the company is buying Rambus memory to sell on - or even give away - to lesser PC OEMs and system builders to ensure they have the same access to RDRAM as the majors.

If that's not dedication to the technology, we're not sure what is. ®


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