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Intel scales back RDRAM for Xeon workstations

And it was going so well for Rambus

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IDF Intel is to drop support for Rambus RDRAM memory in new Xeon workstations, according to a roadmap obtained by EBN's Jack Robertson.

The chip giant will instead use a Placer chipset with DDR memory for DP Xeon workstations and a Granite Bay DDR chipset for single processor versions. These replace RDRAM-supporting 860 and 850 chipsets in the workstation line-up, and the switch is slated to take place in the second half of this year, according to Robertson's roadmap.

But the news is not entirely bad - the next versions of the 850 and 860 chipsets - "not new products", according to Robertson - are out in the second-half of the year and will support a 533MHz front-side bus and RDRAM. So, in other words, Intel Architecture workstation OEMs can continue to deploy RDRAM-based Intel solutions, albeit with "not new products".

No News is Good News

It had been going all so so well for Rambus in recent days: the company this week demoed the world's highest PC bandwidth memory module design at IDF,
the RIMM 4200, and also a new, with share prices jumping at the news for the former stock market darling.

Shortages in the DDR spot market in recent have seen prices sometimes match and even surpass historically more expensive RDRAM; all is quiet on the legal front. Intel is being nice to Rambus in public. Jeff Austin, marketing manager for Intel desktops, told journalists this week that RDRAM remains the best performance option for client-side PCs, certainly through to the end of the year.

And Tom's Hardware, one of the company's fiercest critics in the technology review world, this month published a revised and much more favourable opinion of Rambus and RDRAM technology.

But then Robertson drops his bombshell. We guess that Rambus was already aware of Intel's plans re workstations - it's clear to everyone that its major customer is pigeonholing RDRAM on the PC and server side for high-end desktops only. On the bright side, RDRAM remains in favour with Intel's ever-expanding family of network processors.

But it would have been nice for the company and shareholders to have had a slightly longer run of good news. ®

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