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Dramurai duel over next-gen RAM winner

But back DDR and RDRAM, just in case

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DDR SDRAM will match SDR on price by the end of the year, be way cheaper than Rambus RDRAM and will become the standard for high-performance RAM, all thanks to a faster-than-expected ramp-up in sales, memory maker Hyundai happily announced last week.

The claim follows similarly enthusiastic predictions - this time favouring RDRAM - made by Rambus-backer Samsung at little while back just before it announced a big RDRAM supply deal with Dell. Hyundai's claim was made while announcing big DDR supply deals with Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.

Hyundai said it expects to boost production from two million DDR chips to between eight and ten million of them by Q4. DDR makers broadly concur, highlighting the Q3 launch of DDR-supporting chipsets designed for Intel's Pentium 4 processor as the key driver for increase volumes and thus the shift to price parity with single data rate SDRAM.

That will see DDR take 15 per cent of the memory market this year, and 40 per cent in 2002, predicted Hyundai.

For its part, Samsung said it expects RDRAM demand to hit 300 million chips, with 250 million being used in P4-based PCs and workstations and the rest in "high performance game products" - PlayStation 2s.

"Given this kind of rapid growth, RDRAM demand in 2002 is forecast to be at least 600 million chips," said Samsung. Possibly. That growth has become because RDRAM is the only memory technology supported by the P4 - as we say, it will be interesting to see what the availability of DDR-based P4 chipsets does to that demand.

Of course, Hyundai isn't entirely pro-DDR - last week, it also announced its 800MHz 288Mb RDRAM part had been successfully validated by Rambus. For its part, Samsung makes DDR too.

All of this reminds us of Redwald, the Dark Age Saxon king of East Anglia, who, on being converted to Christianity, insisted on placing an altar to the devil alongside each cross erected in his kingdom, just in case. Pragmatic or what?

Today, neither company really cares which technology wins, as long as each gets to sell shedloads of memory.

So: "Samsung believes that Rambus will continue to be the dominant technology for the new generation of PCs," said Tom Quinn, Samsung Semiconductor's VP of marketing. "If it proves otherwise and DDR becomes the dominant technology, then Samsung will simply continue to be the leading supplier of that technology."

And this from Farhad Tabrizi, Hyundai's VP of worldwide memory marketing: "[We're] well positioned to ensure that we are platform ready, regardless of the DRAM technology, SDR, DDR or RDRAM." ®

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