Intel gears up to phase in DDR 845D chipset next month

And phase out the PC133-based 845

Intel is set to ship its DDR-based 845D chipset in volume next month and not Q1 2002 as originally planned, according to sources close to Taiwan's major mobo makers cited by DigiTimes.

And the chip giant will ship the part at pretty much the same price as the current, PC133-based 845. That, coupled with Intel's own admission that supplies of the 845 are likely to be very tight through November, suggests the company is moving quickly to shift the market's attention away from the single-rate SDRAM product to its double data rate successor.

Intel has been hinting for some time that it would ship the 845D to motherboard manufacturers this quarter, but hold off the part's official launch until early next year. That would not only give mobo makers enough time to build up stock, but prevent Intel from falling foul of its agreement with Rambus not to ship a chipset based on DDR before the end of 2001.

Intel re-signed its technology licensing agreement with Rambus a month or so back, almost certainly to remove that limitation. In return, it agreed to pay the memory technology developer $10 million a quarter for the next five years, nominally for the right to use Rambus' "other memory, communications and backplane inventions".

So now mobo maker sources are claiming Intel wants them to demo 845D boards at Comdex next month. The formal launch may still come early next year, but it's clear the 845D is being promoted much sooner than planned.

Not that the mobo makers are happy about it. They reckon Intel's move will leave 845-based boards competing directly with 845D-based boards. That Intel expects a smooth transition is shown not only by its pricing plan, but by its apparent decision to fill out unfulfilled 845 orders with 845D chips.

Intel expects the 845D to account for at least 50 per cent of all 845/845D shipments by the end of the year, the DigiTimes report claims. We reckon it could be higher, if 845 supplies (conveniently) remain tight.

In other words, PC vendors will simply start selling Pentium 4/845-based machines as DDR compatible. It will be as if the 845 never existed. Had it not been for the Rambus limitation, we don't suppose it ever would have. ®

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