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Rambus renames Yellowstone as XDR DRAM

Faster, cheaper than DDR, developer claims

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Rambus has rebranded its Yellowstone memory interface technology. From now on, the system will be known as XDR, the company said today.

Yellowstone licensees Toshiba and Elpida said they will ship XDR-branded DRAM.

Yellowstone/XDR operates at 3.2GHz, providing eight times the bandwidth of what Rambus dubs is today's "best-in-class" PC memory. Presumably it's referring to 400MHz DDR, though as yesterday's 500MHz DDR announcement from Kingston shows, DDR will have narrowed the gap somewhat by the time XDR parts begin sampling next year and achieve volume production the year after. And higher clocked DDR II should be well on-stream by then too.

Rambus has pledged to take XDR to at least 6.4GHz for a 100GBps memory bandwidth, and while it hasn't offered up a timetable for that ramp, it's undoubtedly going to try and keep ahead of DDR/DDR II for as long as it can.

The carrot Rambus is dangling beneath the nose of the hardware guys doesn't only contain juice speeds, but succulent claims of lower costs too. Rambus claims "XDR DRAM offers significant cost savings by providing the same system bandwidth as alternatives with fewer DRAM components, low-cost four-layer PCBs and inexpensive industry-standard packages".

That's fine so long as comparable products to said "alternatives" are offered, but we suspect XDR makers will target the higher bandwidths - directly competing with well-entrenched DDR/DDR II will prove too hard - and so inherently offer pricier parts.

Indeed, even Rambus admits that "XDR DRAM is expected to initially serve the high-bandwidth needs of consumer, graphics and networking applications, with eventual applicability for PC main memory, server and mobile systems when these applications require higher levels of bandwidth". So don't expect PC chipset support for some time.

And to highlight the roles Rambus sees XDR being targeted at initially, it reiterated Sony's plan to use XDR in "future broadband applications" based on its Cell processor. Since the PlayStation 2 already uses Rambus RDRAM, may we take it that Rambus is talking about the PS3, here? And tacitly revealing the console will indeed be based on the Sony-IBM-Toshiba massively multi-processing platform?

Today, Rambus is offering XDR for licensing and can provide everything chip and system designers need to start preparing XDR-based products. Toshiba and Elpida said their XDR products will ship in 2004, ramping up to volume production in 2005. ®

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