Pentium 4 price cuts fuel RDRAM mobo demand surge

Taiwanese mobo makers report shift to Rambus

Intel's Pentium 4 price cuts have driven RDRAM mobo shipments well ahead of boards that use Rambus' rival memory technology, DDR SDRAM, Taiwanese motherboard makers have said.

Since Intel hacked P4 prices right back last month, mobo makers are shipping on average 40 per cent more RDRAM boards than DDR units, according to a DigiTimes report. RDRAM may still be more expensive, but processor cuts have made a difference. Since the start of the year, RDRAM-based mobos have fallen by around 15 per cent to $150 a pop.

Gigabyte said demand for RDRAM mobos has surged of late, especially from tier-two and tier-three PC vendors. It said it shipping around 12,000 DDR mobos a month, but shipments of RDRAM-based units has risen to over 20,000 per month.

Asustek told DigiTimes it sold more than 30,000 RDRAM mobos in April. Again, increased demand from less well known PC makers has driven the sudden growth in sales.

Both companies expect RDRAM-based mobo shipments to increase this month - good news not only for Rambus, but for Intel since it suggests its price-led move to kick-start P4 sales is working (though it may not be much of a consolation to shareholders - see Intel to miss Q2 targets by miles - analyst).

Of course, with Brookdale, aka the i845 chipset, due to bring PC-133 SDRAM support to the P4, mobo makers have questioned just how long this surge in demand for RDRAM-based kit will last. A Q3 launch gives Rambus two months' grace, during which time it will hope to increase volumes and so lower the price of RIMMs.

DigiTimes notes that Brookdale is expected to cost more than Intel's RDRAM chipset. If so, that too will favour RDRAM mobos. The cheaper price of P4s will also benefit rival DDR chipsets from the likes of VIA, Acer and SIS, but they are unlikely to appear until late in the quarter, we hear, which again will give Rambus more room to reduce the difference between RDRAM and DDR prices. ®

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Related Link

DigiTimes: Competition between RDRAM and DDR still full of uncertainties

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