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Intel

Intel To Pull Plug on RAMBUS, Use SDRAM? 143

Ratteau writes " Cahner's Group Electronic News, is reporting they have come across documents that Intel "has pulled the plug on plans to use Rambus direct memory in the mainstream PC market". " Given the troubled past with Rambus, this wouldn't surprise me - but it's a big move for Intel.
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Intel To Pull Plug on RAMUS, Use SDRAM?

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  • Intel's Desktop 2001 Roadmap Update indicates direct Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) will only be used in the high-end desk-top market I'd like to bring about a point. Consider the i815E. Its what Intel would consider a low-end SDRAM chipset. Is that why they put a 512 MB barrier on it? Even more bugging is the fact that Intel limits you to 2 PC133 DIMMS or 3 PC100 DIMMS. This statement only acknowledges that Intel finally knows that low-end customers are *probably* ;-> not going to shell out bigbucks for RDRAM. It still doesn't change their position to the market. Ciao -sush
  • RDRAM latency is a big issue, but with proper processor and chipset design, this can be avoided. Alpha's EV8 (?) is an example of this. If I remember right, the Rambus controller will be integrated into the processor core, and the architecture of the core is designed to minimize the RDRAM latency hit. In addition, the Alpha RDRAM controller is an 8-channel setup (8*1.6GB=12.8 GB max bandwidth). As for interleaving SDRAM, remember that SDRAM has a much higher pin count, which means more traces on the motherboard. Because of this, multi-channel SDRAM is more difficult and costly to implement. Though, with RDRAM prices the way they are, this is not too much of an issue. I believe ALi has a dual-channel SDRAM chipset (socket 7), though.
  • Don't they already coat the surface of new motherboards with some kind of stuff to keep my greasy little fingers from clawing on them? When I last was fscking around with my Tyan Tiger 100 it struck me that they had coated the top layer with a varnish-like finish.

  • They...[have]important patents, and they collect royalties

    ERGO

    RMBS DID contribute significantly to advances in memory technology

    FALSE

    Your argument shows that RMBS laid claim to advances and that, for whatever reason, others see it in their self-interest to respect that claim. Given the tenuous link from idea generation to legal claim, and then from legal claim to royalty payment, your argument simply does not suppport your conclusion.

    I encourage you to be more skeptical as to the degree any given legal situation reflects reality.

  • Well, so could have a brain-dead donkey.. but intel figured they'd cash in on the stock anyway.. it seemed like a PHB maneuver to me, in fact it reeks of PHB activity...

  • [Insert validity string] I work for a memory distributer [end validity string] We have recently been able to purchase RDRAM at a much lower cost than its initial offering. RDRAM is selling horribly in the end-user market. We have consulted with our manufacturer (not to be named here) and they have indicated that "someone in taiwan is dumping the stuff". I would tend to think if the memory is being "dumped" that it pretty much consitutes a flop. In the same time we've been offering RDRAM, we have gotten (at least) as many inquiry's about DDR DRAM, a product that has not even been released yet (to my knowledge).

    --Ben
  • I've just gotten an Athilon Thunderbird which at it's current speed of 800MHz is about 1/4 faster than a P3 at the same clock speed. Since the FSB is at 200MHz (much faster than current SDRAM memory), Users of this chip won't have to deal with the losses resulting from using non-rambus technology. However, it would be kind of cool if RAMBUS actually did work 100% correctly.
  • they use DDR RDRAM

    RDRAM = RAMBUS Direct Random Access Memory

    DDR = Double Data Rate

    These are 2 different kinds of technologies, so no, its not common knowledge that the i815 chipsets will use this DDR RDRAM that you seem to know about, because DDR RDRAM doesn't exist. I believe what you meant was DDR SDRAM, which is what it will use as far as I know.

    RAMBUS Info from www.pcaccelerate.com [pcaccelerate.com]

    Id go check out that site for info about RAMBUS, and you should see for yourself that there is no such thing as DDR RDRAM.

    Snippet from the article:

    The PC600 RDRAM bandwidth peaks at 1.2GB/sec--less than 20% faster than PC133. In real world applications there is no performance difference between PC133 and PC600. Sure RDRAM is fast, but has only a 16-bit data path. That's because with RDRAM only one 16-bit wide memory chip on the module is active at a time. When one chip is being addressed the other chips are in standby mode. With SDRAM eight 8-bit chips are active at once, giving a 64-bit data path.

    That pretty much shows you some downfalls to a memory technology that is proprietary, and very expensive, versus one that non-proprietary, and very cheap (compared to RDRAM). RAMBUS worked great for the Nintendo 64, but for pc's it seems we are going to be using PC133, and DDR for a while. Thank god is all I can say, I mean $1000 bucks for a stick of 128mb PC800 RDRAM is a joke.

    ----------------------

    Geist

  • SDRAM:
    PC66: 66 MHz @ 64 bits = 4224 Mbit/s = 528 MB/s
    PC100: 100 MHz @ 64 bits = 6400 Mbit/s = 800 MB/s
    PC133: 133 MHz @ 64 bits = 8512 Mbit/s = 1.064 MB/s

    DDR SRAM
    PC1600: 100MHz x 2 @ 64 bits = 1600 MB/s
    PC2100: 133MHz x 2 @ 64 bits = 2128 MB/s

    RDRAM
    700MHz @ 16 bits = 1400MB/s
    800MHz @ 16 bits = 1600MB/s

    RMBS will get their asses kicked by DDR, which is faster, cheaper, and has less latency.

    I don't get how rmbs is still valued at $6B.
  • because DDR RDRAM doesn't exist
    Yes it does. It is called DRDRAM, or what we all refer to as RDRAM. All PC RDRAM is DDR to begin with, e.g. PC800 runs at 400MHz DDR.
  • I don't get all this about Richard Stallman and patents. Doesn't he hate patents?

  • You can't just interleave memory to solve bandwidth problems...every type of memory does that. The only way to get higher bandwidth with SDRAM is to A) increase the speed, or B) use multiple memory buses going into the CPU (very costly pin wise). SDRAM has some nice properties, and I'm sure it's appropriate for the pc-world, but within a year or two it will be severly bandwidth limited for high-end systems.
  • but you're right, in the PC world it doesn't seem to be a good fit. Plus, Intel has done an extremely poor implementation of RDRAM for their initial offerings, which has handicapped it in the benchmarks.
  • Crucial (Micron's memory division) is already selling [crucial.com] DDR memory. The prices are only slightly higher than SDRAM. They only have PC1600 listed, 100MHz bus.
  • I am not sure, but I believe Rambus stock is dropping quite a lot today. At this moment, it's down by some 5% compared to yesterday :-)

    Of course, I may be mistaken. Look for yourself at Nasdaq:RMBS [nasdaq.com]


    Let's see wath a little slashdot effect can do to stock quotes now :-)
  • Did anyone notice how Intel was going to sell the higher performance computers with rambus?

    Why stick junk RAM with high end products? Seems like a marketing scam to make the uneducated computer shoppers pay for Intel's initial mistake of pushing RDRAM.
  • by Tower ( 37395 )
    RAMBUS still pricey
    Not meet performance hopes
    Intel says "Oh, Shit!"

    --
  • The site is slashdotted so I can't check, but what if it's just a rumour meant to deflate Rambus stock? What if those guys have a lot of put options?

    "Never invest based on a 'tip' on the Internet without doing independent research" [zdnet.com]

  • The writing is on the wall for RDRAM. All new designs are using SDRAM and DDR SDRAM.

    However, they still cling to life by trying to extort royalties on all synchronous memory. They did "invent" synchronous DRAM after all, and got some patents. Despite the recent flurry of bad news for RMBS, their stock value is still worth >$6B. They are clinging to life on the hope that memory manufacturers will buy them off, rather than risk a jury trial. In the mean time, the RMBS insiders just keep selling, taking in the millions.
  • Quite frankly who gives a rats ass about RAMBUS anyway, unless you're running really powerful server class systems, home users wouldn't really benefit the use of it now. I can bet you the RAMBUS will go the way of the dinousaurs in maybe a year or 2... here is a brief genealogy of RAM for home PC users...

    1975 - 1990 -- Good old standard DIP/SIP RAM chips (still used today in most electronic appliances)
    1990 - 1994 -- SIMM/DIMM RAM basically DIP RAM on slots.
    1994 - 1997 -- EDO RAM things start to get better with faster access RAM
    1997 - 1998 -- SDRAM (PC66) this was meant for the first generation PIIs but could still be used with some Super Socket 7 chips.
    1998 - 1999 -- SDRAM (PC100) Better mobos require faster RAMs for their faster processors
    1999 - NOW -- SDRAM (PC133) Very few mobos support this type of RAM and demand is very low in comparison to the others

    FYI before SDRAM entered the main stream market for the masses it was actually used on High End Servers (I know about this 'cos my components supplier for my PC said I was *NUTS* using SDRAM for my PC). Even when they came out for the masses I still paid a pretty penny for my 1st 64MB (about USD$5/MB) and that was back in 1997

    The way I see it is that RAMBUS will probably make a hoo-haa in the PC market maybe in about 1 year from now and last about 6-8 months before being super suceeded by another breed of RAM. My suggestion is to stick with SDRAM until INTEL can solve the problem with the Data Bottleneck in their controller chips.

    Hey INTEL! Take a few a few design pointers from AMD on their controller design
    -----
  • When it comes to management decisions, "Expensive" is a good word, and "Cheap" is bad.

    Riiiiight... That's why everyone has Alphas on their desktop, right?
  • Some newer Geforce video cards come with heatsinks on the DDR SDRAM chips. My roommate has one without heatsinks, and I've noticed that the chips rarely get hot to the touch, so heatsinks may be overkill at this point (although some hardware sites I've read have claimed that the RAM can be clocked higher when cooled like this). Don't be surprised if next generations of DDR (or QDR) RAM get quite toasty, especially with constant heavy use.
  • It would be a smart move, but generally industry hypes something and doesn't want to let go of the hype, regardless of it's destructive path.

  • Ahh... I multiplied bits and created bytes, accidentally. Seeing the numbers I had scratched out and realizing they were too large, i just took off a zero. Anyways, we're right in seing that there's no real advantage to Rambus now... Or RIGHT now there is, but for a huge cost premium, for a relatively small performance gain that will basically disappear in the coming year.

    I don't understand them either. Huge market cap by having a product no one wants... They should go away pretty soon now that Intels disavowing them...
  • Well, the systems must cost >$2000 (USD)! Let's see - 128MB Stick of RAMBUS RAM, $780, Newest Pentium3-850, $530, that's $1310 before mobo, HD, CD, case, KB, Mouse, etc... Not to mention assembly, business overhead, some profit,and that requisite copy of Windows! Granted these prices are retail, so the cost to big manufacturers should be lower...
    [NOTE: Pricing from Treasure Chest Computers [tccomputers.com]
  • Well, this is another case of 'MHz uber alles'. Remember, MHz is not the end-all be-all of computer technology. RDRAM operates at 400 MHz DDR, but pushes that through a 16 bit bus (for 1.6 GB/s). PC133/DDR266 operates at 133 MHz, but uses a 64 bit bus (for 1.06/2.12 GB/s, respectively). So, what is really important in evaluating memory technologies is the amount of data being transfered per second. So, DDR SDRAM will keep that Thunderbird better fed than RDRAM. BTW, this doesn't take into consderation RDRAM's atrocious latency. For a more complete explanation, look at http://www.aceshardware.com and their RAM article for an explanation of how latency affects bandwidth. Very informative.
  • ... when I submitted the story last week.

    Now it's old news... jesus slashdot.. Try to keep up ok?

  • DDR-DRAM is fundamentally bandwidth limited when compared to a DRDRAM implementation in the same technology. Servers need high memory bandwidth, and latency is not really an issue (BTW: a good RDRAM implementation has decent latency). You will see this in the next couple years.
  • RAMBUS might not be suck, but it isn't in the running for those who want best bang for the buck.

    What is suck, is when vendors force RAMBUS on us. Want to buy a Dell? You can either by RAMBUS for $$$$ (notice the extra $), or get a lower end system with SDRAM but using the i820 MB, which combined with SDRAM, is of course suck

    INTEL and its boyfriend Dell IS SUCK
  • by Anonymous Coward
    According to things I have read about the Intel/Rambus deal, if Intel stops pushing Rambus as the number one memory option before 2003 or so, the licensing deal is voided. If this happens, then Intel would lose the ability to manufacture, or sell any chipset that has Rambus support. Since this includes the i810, i820, and i840 (even the MTH versions), it would leave Intel legally unable to support millions and millions of motherboards, and millions of customers. For this reason, I doubt Intel will drop Rambus soon, especially since most Rambus users are in the higher end of the price spectrum. (They'd pretty much have to be, given the price of the damn things.)
  • This confuses me. I can see the need to have multiple 400MHZ channels from the RDRAM to the controller, but they shouldn't need 400MHZ from the controller to the CPU. It's 16bit vs 64bit, so they shouldn't need more than 100MHZ.

    The traces from the memory to the controller shouldn't need to be that long, so I can't imagine that it's too terribly big of a problem.

    -Michael
  • Did they just NOW figure out no one with brains will shell out the 1,000 bucks for ram thats not that big of an improvement over 150 dollar ram? Its a no value product they just figured out wasn't worth the push. I could have told them that a long time ago.
  • DDR SRAM requires 4x as many pins as RDRAM. If you use 4 RDRAM channels (for same pin count as DDR SRAM), all of a sudden you are talking 6400MB per second, or thereabouts. And guys!, the latency is not that bad.
  • by stevens ( 84346 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:00AM (#862429) Homepage

    From the article, this sounds more like a delay in implementation than Intel giving up on Rambus.

    It's one small step on a long road that Intel must travel to win my confidence back. Their last year of gaffes has lost nearly all the goodwill they built up with me

    Steve
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again. Intel's initial crack at RDRAM is a poor implementation and shouldn't be used to judge Rambus. In a year or so you will see some legitimate hardware wrapped around RDRAM, and then you will see the truth.
  • It still sorta fits within the Intel/Rambus contract because it's not a 'new interface', merely a tweak of either the i810 or the BX. But it is a bit afoul because it exceeds 1GB/sec bandwidth, though just barely. OTOH, I doubt any controller can come within 6% of the theoretical max of a PC133 DIMM, so effective bandwidth is probably still low enough.

    Lots of people have been looking at the publicly available portions of the Intel/Rambus contract, and speculating about the blanked out parts.
  • So it's not like Intel is giving up on RDRAM altogether - just on the lower-end machines. If they were switching because one is better, then they would just drop RDRAM totally.

    I think the idea was to save face. If I understood the article correctly, RDRAM is expensive and buggy and there are alternatives that run just as well.

    Investors and the general public tend to lose confidence in a company that says "We screwed up big time" so Intel has to find a way to gradually pull away from what they had heralded and "THE" RAM to use. They have gone from saying "we will use it in _all_ our PIV systems" to "we will use it in some PIV system that cost > $2000 sometime next year..." --quotes are my paraphrasing--

    I would bet that Intel will ship very few, if any, systems with RDRAM. I think they will drop RDRAM from the roadmap for their high-end machines in six months or so and no one will notice/care.

  • by ascheuch ( 30478 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:27AM (#862433) Homepage
    I work closely with a DIMM engineer working with PC100 and PC133 memory systems. We've been watching all the lawsuits flying recently. Here's a few links about royalty and patent lawsuits:

    Rambus asks ITC to bar Hitachi, Sega imports: (3/24/00) http://www.eet.com/story/industry/semiconductor_ne ws/OEG20000324S0022

    Will Rambus Go Bust?: (4/17/2000) http://www.32bitsonline.com/article.php3?file=issu es/200004/rambus&page=1

    Toshiba Signs Patent License Agreement with Rambus
    For SDRAM & DDR SDRAM Memory and Controllers: (6/16/00) http://www.rambus.com/general/press_releases/pr_06 1500.htm

    Tech Report Analysis of Toshiba agreement: (6/16/00) http://www.tech-report.com/onearticle.x/881

    RAMBUS using patent claims to lift RDRAM share: (6/25/00): http://www.ebnews.com/story/OEG20000623S0042

    DRAM industry considers antitrust lawsuit vs. RAMBUS: (7/10/00) http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB20000710S0007
  • by Veteran ( 203989 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:28AM (#862434)
    One of the reasons that Intel has had such difficulty in producing working motherboards with Rambus technology is the 400 Mhz clock which is used (double pumped) on the PC800 version of Rambus memory.

    400 Mhz is a really big jump from the industry standard 100 - 133 Mhz. Minor impedance variations from board to board in production can cause significant phase and wave form changes in such fast signals.

    To accurately transmit 400 Mhz square waves it is necessary for the board traces to handle 4 Ghz sine wave signals. That is more of an Analog micro wave transmission problem than it is any kind of digital design problem. Evidently the board designers have had a great deal of trouble doing this.

    The bottom line is that Rambus motherboards will need to be produced with tighter tolerance on both trace and board substrate thickness than current motherboards. Result: even more expense for a Rambus system compared to a DDR based system.

  • by Zurk ( 37028 )
    now if we had SMP althons in 64 bit mode clocked at 1+GHz i'd be *really happy*....hey amd, wheres my 2/4/8 CPU mobos ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If the initative had succeeded, it wouldn't be a price bump from $150 to $1000. The volume would have increased and the price difference would have probably been $150 to $200. Of course, that whole $200 would have gone to Intel and their gang, instead of a more commodity market.... But nobody was planning on charging $1000 indefinitely.
  • I bought a computer with an Intel CC820 mobo back in May, before the whole recall thing happened. Of course I had problems with it, as it had pc-133 SDRAM ( which due to the MTH problems made the board unusable ).

    Intel's solution to fix the problem was to recall the board and replace my SDRAM with an equivalent amount of RAMBUS ram. That was cool considering that 128 MB of RAMBUS memory alone would have cost more than what I paid for the entire system.

    If they are now discontinuing RAMBUS memory, I'm totally screwed into a computer I'll never be able to upgrade, as RAMBUS memory is already tremendously overpriced.

    Thanks a lot Intel!

    p.s. Anyone who wants to buy a CC820 with 128 MB of RAMBUS memory, let me know. :)
    ---------------------------------------------- --------------

  • If thats the case, then Rambus Inc. have come of pretty well, while Intel are dead in the water to a tune of $400M. I can see some Intel suit's head rolling....
  • No, it's not vaguely sinusoidal, it's a near-perfect sine wave. I'm not imagining, I've seen the waveform. And you don't produce it with a digital chip. :) It's all very complex analog circuitry which I don't pretend to understand but which I've seen in action.

    Still, you are very right about jitter - 10 picoseconds of jitter can make your board stop working. One reason why RAMBUS sucks so much, and why their "it's so easy to design boards for!" slogan is a pile of horse-shit.
  • Thank you for pointing this out, I had forgotten. It would seem right that RDRAM is being shipped in PC's (by OEMS like Dell and HP and Compaq) due to their licensing deals and not in the homebuilt market because the consumers actually know what's right for them.

    Honestly, I just feel that the industry is moving toward narrow and fast technologies (like DRDRAM) and that it will just take time for these things to set in. However, I do NOT like the idea that one company owns all of the intellectual property associated with it. But, Rambus appears to be taking out royalties on non-RDRAM solutions, so it may be that DDR wins, and so does Rambus, and intel just looses horribly...

    Not that I would like Intel to dissapear (they won't) as I love the price competition between them and AMD, but I think that the next 18 months are going to be quite rough in terms of getting beaten in performace and price by AMD and Rambus alternatives.

    IMHO, Intel's best move right now would be to release a CPU with the DRDRAM controller built into the IC, so that they effectively OWN the Northbridge market (they don't now, look at VIA and Ali and Sis...) for Intel proccessors and so as to get some real performace from a technology that will make them money (RDRAM).

    Just a thought....

  • True, to achieve parity, DDR needs 4x the pins.

    But the flip side is that for the same parity, Rambus needs 4x the speed.

    Today, having a 64 bit data bus is no sweat. But having a 700+MHz bus is a big deal. Hence RMBS's low yields and high costs.

    If Rambus had designed their stuff to use the same number of pins and tried for 1.5-2x the speed, they might have had something.

    Regarding RDRAM's latency, it may or may not be that bad. I don't know. But in any event, RDRAM contains a great deal of additional circuitry, which drives the cost up even more. Face it. RDRAM is dead.
  • Hmmm...1.4GHz processor hey. Don't get me wrong - this sounds fast and would be impressive to own, but who actually needs a processor this fast. Surely (especially since the race to break 1GHz is over) they would be better off trying to produce more efficient chips that everyone would benifit from and stop producing this gargantuan devices which probably require a heat sink the size of my current machine to run. After all - who's going to notice the difference.
  • ...and it is not really an issue.
  • Would you call this a "RIMM-job"?
  • when it is done right. The peak theoretical bandwidth of that system is reported to be 12.8GB/s--which is almost 6 times better than the second place contender (also an Alpha, incidentally, 21264). And the latency of a dedicated DRDRAM implementation (using on-chip controllers) is much lower than a chip-set implementation.
  • I can't handle the truth.
  • Check it out yourself at pricewatch.com.

    2.27x is a significant premium, IMHO.
  • I guess I'm a slashdot contrarian, but I took the
    stock drop as a good opportunity to buy more. Time
    will tell, but I've already made some good money
    on this stock and expect it to do well this
    coming year.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:39AM (#862449)
    Before you moderate this "troll," realize that it is the result of informed research. Mostly from relatively recent articles on Ace's Hardware [aceshardware.com].

    Basically, RAMBUS has the theoretical capability to be significantly faster than SDRAM (not DDR, more later). However, the controllers have problems that prevent this. Basically, RDRAM can keep many pages open and many devices active at a time (more than SDRAM), but the i820 doesn't do this. So the chipset is crippling the RDRAM. Also, as soon as multiple devices are put on the bus, the latencies increase, so if too many chips are present things slow down. This is because of the longer wires needed. at 400MHz (not 800 - its DDR) that really matters. Also, RDRAM has been hindered by low yields and hence higher cost. It is now down to about double PC133 (see pricewatch). Also, the chips are more complex. However, the specs say that a good controller ought to be able to outperform PC133. Not by huge amounts, but by enough to matter. i820 is far from a good controller. Something to think about: the EV7 (maybe EV68, I can't remember) is going to use RDRAM. (also on Ace's hardware). However, it is going to increase performance by using 8 channels in parallel. So until there is a good desktop controller, and RDRAM is similar in price, AND the benchmarks say it's better, I'm using DDR SDRAM. But, the technology isn't inherently bad, just having more than it's share of problems.

    ---

  • Intel stops RAMBUS and goes to SDRAM.

    And in other new, the heating oil prices in hell reach an all time high. Hell has gome through the third straight day of bellow freezing temperature.
  • is a big move for Intel.

    Moral of the story: Don't buy stock until their product has been proven better.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • I would imagine that what they have is a square wave with some of the highest harmonics greatly attenuated. An actual sine wave is very difficult to produce with a digital chip.

    Of course if you are trying to push the technology to its limits, and the rise and fall times of the transistors is a substantial part of the cycle time then the wave form starts to look trapezoidal or maybe even triangular. Lop off the higher harmonics and you would wind up with something vaguely sinusoidal.

    That would explain a lot of the problems - switching jitter is a bad enough problem with good square waves - with sine waves it becomes really bad.

    It won't be much longer until PC boards become 'untouchable'. The salt and oil from a finger print could screw up the impedance of an ultrahigh frequency trace. Dust deposits could be a problem; even one extra pf can make a difference with fast enough signals.

  • Sorry to stomp on your fine haiku, but the 2nd line is missing a syllable. Easily fixed though - just add "Did" to start of line.

    Damn... It was in there when I thought it up... stupid brain!

    --
  • The ironic part is that the high-end market is that which would benefit most from DDR SDRAM. The low end will never approach the bandwidth limits of DDR (twice that of normal SDRAM) anyway.

    On top of that, PC133 SDRAM has almost the same bandwidth as "PC800" RDRAM. PC133 DDR-SDRAM (which runs at 266mhz) has far greater bandwidth than RDRAM (mostly because RDRAM transfers two-byte words at a time, and SDRAM does eight bytes at a time, with lower latency (10ns total as opposed to the 12.5-30ns of RDRAM.) We've been over all this before, of course.

    The bottom line is that RDRAM could be improved, it probably IS being improved now. Updated RDRAM will require a different chipset though; If they're smart they'll broaden its bus so it can transfer 4 bytes at a time, which would jack the price up considerably but also make it the fastest ram around, even faster than DDR SDRAM, in the best case. I'll overlook for now the interleaved access problem.

    Of course, we'll end up seeing 300mhz DDR SDRAM before too many moons go by, I think, which would put it slightly ahead of 4 byte read RDRAM...

  • Face the facts, Mr. Brannon.

    RDRAM failed. If their design doesn't work properly or can't be manufactured cost-effectively, they are to be blamed.

    They want it both ways. They own the intellectual property, and presumably did the design work, but when it doesn't work, it's Intel's fault.

    RMBS will be lucky if RDRAM makes it into any PCs in 2001, including high-end machines.

    Intel is smart to dump their asses. If I recall correctly, though, their deal with RMBS prohibits from using non-RMBS memory at >1GB/s for another year or two. That probably explains why they state their future use of SDRAM, not DDR. But they'll need to use DDR to stay competitive. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
  • 400mhz WOULD be a big jump from the industry standard 100mhz, except for two things which we have discussed here before and which was discussed at some length on Tom's Hardware [tomshardware.com].

    First, RDRAM transmits two bytes per read (And I DO mean transmits; RAMBUS is most closely related to networking protocols) and SDRAM is read eight bytes at a time. This means that RDRAM has to be four times as fast as SDRAM to have the same bandwidth as SDRAM.

    Second, RDRAM has significantly higher latency than SDRAM. SDRAM and RDRAM both have a base latency of about 10ns, even when you have the 6 and 7ns SDRAM. However, SDRAM has the chips on a "grid", more or less. RDRAM has the chips along a bus (Hence the name RAMB(U)S) (ha ha) which means that some chips will actually take longer to get their messages down the bus to the PC.

    This is not a joke; It actually takes the electrons a measurable amount of time to propagate down the traces on the board. Furthermore, it takes even longer for the electrons to travel down the traces on the inner layers of a multi-layer PCB, which RDRAM DIMM boards definitely are. If you are the last RDRAM [chip] on the RIMM (Boy does that sound nasty) then you may be experiencing as much as 10.5ns of additional latency. This is not an exaggeration; RDRAMs have a circuit in them that generates between 2.5ns (minimum) and 10.5ns (maximum) latency so that they don't talk over each other. It's a teensy tiny little LAN of RAMs inside your PC, and it's not switched. Of course, they never generate collisions.

    There is a third thing that makes RDRAM slower than SDRAM, which is the fact that you can only read half the data at once. I don't know if it's broken down into words, pages, or whole RAMs, but you can only read the odd or even whatevers at a time. This means that long-ass memory reads/writes will be slow because it has to bank switch, causing more latency. In all fairness though, you could solve THAT problem with either a good memory controller or judicious use of the MMU.

    The bottom line is that RDRAM is a great deal of expense for a very small return. PC800 RDRAM is indeed faster than PC133 SDRAM, but it is actually slower in every way when compared to PC133 DDR SDRAM, which runs (of course) at 266mhz, 8 bytes at a time, 10ns latency, as compared to 800mhz, 2 bytes at a time, 12.5ns or greater latency. You do the math, because I can't figure out a clever way to put it together.

  • Yeah, but it is hardly $1000 vs. $150, as the original poster said.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday August 11, 2000 @10:01AM (#862458) Homepage Journal

    It takes less power to run your CPU than a light bulb. On the desktop, power consumption doesn't matter so much as long as you can dissipate the heat. Transmeta already has a solution for reducing power use in mobile devices. Intel is doing the intelligent thing by occasionally devoting some time and R&D money toward developing lower power CPUs, but focusing on the biggest, best, and brightest.

    In response to your core question, IE "who actually needs a processor this fast", the answer is, we all do. As higher-end CPUs get faster, lower-end CPUs get cheaper. As more processing power becomes available, we are able to predict weather more accurately, make more fuel efficient automobiles, and discover more about the cosmos in which we are only a tiny speck. Computers help us do everything, making products cheaper and giving a better way of life to all people (though admittedly there are billions for whom the benefits are slow to trickle down to.)

    Next time you buy a car, stop a moment and marvel at the amount of processor time that went into modeling various aerodynamics characteristics, enabling you to get dramatically better gas mileage than the refinements made to the engine alone; Which are all designed and tested on the computer before they ever see metal. This is true of nearly every product with more than five moving parts, and many that have none at all. Be thankful for the race to technology, or get the hell off your computer and go plant some carrots or something.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is silly to use Rambus RAM, since SDRAM has lower latency. Rambus RAM has higher bandwidth, but if you need bandwidth you can always interleave memory. (the idea is similar to RAID striping. byte 1 comes from one ram chip, byte 2 comes from the other, so you have the same latency and twice the bandwidth. If you want more bandwidth, use more controllers and more chips. You can't do anything about latency except make each chip faster, though, which is why there's nothing you can do with Rambus to make it have SDRAM latency.)

  • buyout? clinging to life? extort royalties? No...

    They are an intellectual property company, with important patents, and they collect royalties from some major players in the memory business. They are negotiating with many more. The fact that these megacorps are PAYING rather than FIGHTING the payments should tell you something - that something is RMBS DID contribute significantly to advances in memory technology, and DO own the patents. In fact it is RMBS initiating cour action to collect royalties, the manufacturers are the ones giving up.

    I could accept your Open Source/Free Software religion resenting this, but it's a fact that in the USA patents are solid. These aren't just one-click kind of patents either, they are examples of the kind of research that brings us the hardware we know and love today.

    God forbid anyone should make money in the computer business.... sigh.
  • I told you so.

    The 'companies backing down from a bad decision' point is a very pertinant one for me. The company I worked for decided (without telling us) to sell the group I worked for, as it was only breaking even. 3 years later it was making a good profit, and we still got sold, completely screwing over the other groups which depended on our existance. The stupid bigwigs at the top _couldn't_ reverse/cancel the decision, as they were too proud to admit they were wrong (by being so short sighted).

    So micro-kudos to Intel. But they were damn suckers for signing the deal in the first place, it had bad news written all over it.

    I hope to never hear the word RAMBUS again.

    FatPhil
  • Well, the other thing that killed RDRAM is the high price: US$500 or more per 128 MB RIMM module! (glyph of "Benjamins" sprouting wings and flying away at high speed)

    Remember, today's PC-133 SDRAM modules cost about US$140 for 128 MB in most places; a DDR-SDRAM 128 MB module will probably cost around US$175-US$185. No wonder why people aren't so interested in RDRAM.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:28AM (#862470) Homepage
    Um... right, but when they patented these ideas while participating in an industry-wide panel to discuss RAM standards, without notifying anyone else in the panel, and when these patents suspiciously look a lot like the technology that the panel, as a group, developed... To say that they 'contributed significantly' seems a little shakey. More like 'grabbed the technology and ran'. Yeah, real 'solid'.

    That only TWO megacorps have given in should tell you something -- especially since the two that gave in are both known to be non-confrontational and to have a vested financial interest in being able to continue to sell RDRAM (the patent for which no one disputes). When you are in the lucrative position of supplying the RAM for the PS/2, you do _not_ want to piss off the company that lets you do this. This is hardly an admission that the Rambus Inc patents have any merit.

    Rambus chose their first targets very carefully. They know the rest of the industry will not give in to their ludicrous assertions, and they wanted to give the impression that the whole industry was going to cave in to them. Sadly (for RMBS stockholders), the actions of the other memory companies demonstrates that this is not the case.

    God forbid anyone should make money in the computer business? HA! It is to laugh. Seems to me all the major memory makers have been doing just fine financialy without feeling the need to hold a patent on SDRAM.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:29AM (#862471) Journal
    There are applications where throughput is more important than a significant amount of latency.

    An example is context-switched highly-parallel processing, where the number of crunches per second on each piece is relatively low and fixed. You pipeline and context-switch, and get multiple virtual processors from one set of gates and a RAM. The higher your bandwidth the more virtual processors you get. This is important in many applications. Sometimes space for the box is more expensive than the box itself. Sometimes the cost per virtual processor is critical.

    But some problems don't parallelize well. And even for those that do, parallizing them can be a real bitch. So your desktop or laptop (which tends to be doing only one or a few crunch-intensive things at a time) is organized to stick with a task for a significant time, then hop to another. RAMBUS isn't a match for that.

    And it looks like it has some other kisses-of-death even for interleaved context-switched stuff. Oh, well...
  • Bullshit. They more stole than invented and the only thing they contributed were useless court battles.

    And as for why companies are paying... Maybe you don't get out much, but it's trivial for one company to get an injunction against another even without a real leg to stand on, that could cost millions per day to the victim company. Of course they pay them off. It's like paying protection money to the mob, you know they won't protect you, but you also know bad things will happen if you don't play along.

    They're not an "intellectual property company", they're a bunch of thieves looking for any way to steal for a company that actually develops something. But, I suppose you'll support them, you sound like someone who holds some of their stock.
  • If RAMBUS stock isn't worth anything, this won't matter.

    1,000,000 shares time zero dollars per share is zero dollars.

    I think Intel is starting to wonder if they have more to lose in market share than they have to gain in Rambus bribes.

    Rambus won't quite go bankrupt, because they have big contracts with Sony and Hitachi for video games. But if I was someone with Rambus stock, I would sell it as soon as it shows the slightest sign of dropping.
  • Don't forget though: the more over-priced a system is, the more your average manager will look at it and think he's getting something good.
    When it comes to management decisions, "Expensive" is a good word, and "Cheap" is bad. (this is also why Linux isn't getting as much market share as it deserves).
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:05AM (#862484) Homepage
    Unless of course your doing disk access, in which case your far better off performance wise with PC133 and a SCSI Disk subsystem... which interestingly enough, can be done for still less money then 256MB of 800mhz RDRAM costs.

    Yeah... you take your RDRAM, I'll take my Ultra160 controller and 10k RPM drive, and we'll see just who beats who as soon as you have to stop to access your good old IDE hard drive.
  • What happened is that Rambus was around 10% of the industry's memory production, but it never got anywhere near 10% of the industry sales. (the last figures I saw were more like 1%, but that wasn't very recent)

    Its coming down like a rock now because people don't want to be stuck with mass inventories of it hanging around forever, not because its suddenly gotten cheaper. The success of motherboards like the Asus A7V (which is a great board) and in general anything that doesn't use Rambus has left the people holding stockpiles of it high and dry. They have to recoup at least *some* of what they originally thought they could make off it, and the way to do that is to sell it at a loss to simply get rid of it.

    Don't be surprised if after they sell it all off (if they do), many places stop selling it entirely. There is simply no market for memory that expensive that doesn't do anything for my real world performance. (and all the theoretical stuff aside, its what it does to my real world speed that matters! I don't care if Rambus *might* be better when somebody makes a better memory controller or when they do this and that, I care what it does for me now. Paying 2-4x as much for something that does nothing useful for me is... well... stupid.)
  • due to a very massive drop in Rambus prices lately (probably due to nobody wanting to hold on to it anymore in inventory), you probably can't do it for the same price anymore. my bad.

    We did work it out back when rambus was 4x the cost of PC133 SDRAM though, and we got some very interesting numbers. (on the price difference for 256mb, we found a way to store 16 weeks of 128kbps mp3 music)
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:41AM (#862491) Homepage
    Sorry, but RAMBUS _is_ a bad design for a next-gen memory technology.

    Benchmarks demonstrate that as processor speed increases, the performance gap between PC133 and RAMBUS increases (meaning RAMBUS does _worse_).

    This makes complete sense to me. As processor speed increases, the number of CPU cycles that are wasted waiting for a critical piece of data to return from RAM increases. Latency becomes more important and more difficult to tolerate with clever architecture tricks. There's a reason new chips have 3 levels of cache, and it ain't bandwidth.

    The only way this will change is if the _workloads_ change. RAMBUS does beat PC133 in some cases, mostly that involve streaming data from ram to the cpu from a contiguous buffer. Any small or random accesses are going to hurt with RAMBUS.

    But that's why they made DDR. It has the low(compared to RAMBUS) latency, and better bandwidth than RAMBUS. As Pokey would say, HOORAY! ^_^
  • by matticus ( 93537 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:01AM (#862494) Homepage
    it's because Rambus simply hasn't delivered. they keep saying it will enhance performance later on down the road when chips are faster, but in the benchmarks, the faster the chip, the better SDRAM is at slaughtering Rambus. wait until DDR. that's honest performance gain hopefully unlicensed by anyone. cheap, fast. just like the athlon. tswhat makes computer shopping so much fun.
  • by ravrazor ( 69324 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:02AM (#862498)
    Rambus is a design for a memory system from Rambus Inc. It is extraordinarily fast on paper. Intel chose their design and decided to support it on a lot of their new products.

    The implementation took a long time to get around to getting around. It is now here. Intel bet a LOT on Rambus, because it would give them significant control over a lot of markets. (IE: They own rambus designs)

    Rambus is significantly different from the DRAM used commonly today. It requires changes to how stuff is laid out on the motherboard. And it is manufactured differently, to very demanding tolerances.

    It is now in production and is competing with DDR-DRAM, which uses existing manufacturing processes, generally works with existing chipsets, and is easy to support. And it doesn't require a fan setup for the memory alone. And runs far cooler. And gives almost as good performance when set up correctly as a RAMBUS setup. And is also capable of being manufactured in quantity, whereas RDRAM is extremely difficult to manufacture. DDRDRAM is also about a fifth of the cost of a RDRAM setup.

    You do the math, and read up on it a bit.. I think you will agree that for all intents and purposes (read: mainstream pcs, servers, et al), Rambus is DOA.
  • Just hang out a couple of years and 128 MB of PC200 RAM will run you $.28 a megabyte. At that price, buy three or four DIMMS. Your processor and motherboard will also be hopelessly oudated by then so you may as well upgrade to a 64 bit processor then.

    Me? Oh... I bought AMD parts...

  • [DDR-DRAM] gives almost as good performance when set up correctly as a RAMBUS setup

    Actually, the benchmarks show pretty clearly that DDR-DRAM is faster both in bandwidth and latency than RDRAM.

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:09AM (#862507) Homepage
    You hit the nail on the head, except...

    RAMBUS gives almost as good performance as PC133, not DDR gives almost as good performance as RAMBUS, as you said.

    Last year I had the priviledge of excersizing my masochism by working on an RDRAM mobo. While reading up on the architecture I said (aloud) "Gee, all this bandwidth is great and all, but the latency is so high won't that kill performance?" The Rambus Inc(tm) PowerPoint slides said no, bandwidth is all that matters, ignore the high latency. But the engineers I worked with were also skeptical. And it turns out we were right to be so, because RAMBUS sucks it up in real-world performance.

    Other than that, though, you're right. And it is a sunovabitch to design for. When you have pico-seconds of margin to deal with at the _motherboard trace_ level, you know you're screwed.

  • by neoptik ( 130091 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:10AM (#862510) Homepage
    Everyone keeps saying that RDRAM for the PC platform is sooo expensive (I believe a poster before me quoted it at 1000 dollars for a Rimm...sure maybe for 512 megs?) and in fact it really isn't anymore. Yes, it is more expensive, but considering how fast it has dropped, people should reconsider their statements. Right now, a 128 meg PC800 RIMM (Non-ECC) is hovering around $270 and a 128 meg PC100 DIMM (Non-ECC)is about $118. Yes, it is more than 2x in price. However, consider how fast it has dropped.

    RDRAM as a technology on the pc platform has only been in production for maybe 9 months. From $1000 for 128 megs to $270 in 9 months is an incredible drop in price.

  • Come on, man.

    RMBS claims they own the entire concept of synchronous DRAM. That is akin to owning the concept of a vehicle with 4 wheels. For a patent to be valid, it must be non-obvious to an expert in the field at the time. There are plenty of examples of prior art using synchronous communication in other areas. In my opinion, it was inevitable that DRAM would go synchronous sooner or later. It was RMBS's luck that they secured some key patents.

    The fact they have the patents does not prove their contribution to the industry. It merely illustrates how the patent office has turned into a rubber-stamp machine of late.

    I'm not opposed to making $$$ in the computer business. I believe they are entitled to every dollar they make from RDRAM. The sad thing (for them) is that they could have won had they used their high speed data communication techniques along with a data path as wide as open standard ram.

    Only 3 companies (Hitachi, Toshiba, OKi) have agreed to pay royalties, anyway, and the circumstances of these settlements are highly suspect. They did not disclose the details. The remaining manufacturers, seemingly, are getting together to get RMBS's patents invalidated.

    All the settlements prove, anyway, is that the weasel lawyers have taken over our society.
  • I do not remember where, but I heard about this last week. Intel had decided to stick with SDRAM for all general consumer level systems, since general consumers do not/will not stand for computers prices that have been dropping for years to suddenly sky rocket again.

    The site with the Intel document said that they don't know wether they're going to use PC-133 or DDR. They have decided to use DDR. I don't remember if it was print or screen, but if I can find it again then I'll be back.
  • they do. My point was just that we will go to needing better cooling at some point, with Rambus or SDRAM. We went from no cooling to very powerful cooling with chips, RAM will just take longer. I have of course nothing to back this up but my own analysis, but hey...

    ---
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:20AM (#862516)
    Yeah. The problem with many transistors on CPUs is power consumption. Put too many on and run them too fast and you can fry the chip. The 1GHz Tbird can do it in 8 seconds. That's what heat sinks are for. I know we haven't needed them on RAM yet, but I'm sure we will eventually, be it RIMMs or DIMMs, they will get fast enough and high enough transistor count to need it one day.

    ---
  • That's right. There is no basis for an enforceable patent on SDRAM for any company.

    The standard was developed in a joint industry panel, and was based off ideas from synchronous designs in other areas.

    And yet they still make truckloads of money.
  • But back when Intel was being courted by Rambus, wasn't that back when we were still all using EDO RAM, or maybe even before? The point being, that Rambus quite literally blew everything out of the water when it was first being thought up, it was just that they and Intel negelected to realize that things like 66 MHz, 100 Mhz, and 133 MHz SDRAM were just over the horizon.

    I've never understood it. If my math is correct:

    a 66 MHz SDRAM DIMM (64 bit) = 422 MB/sec
    a 100 MHz SDRAM DIMM (64 bit) = 640 MB/sec
    a 400 MHz RDRAM RIMM (16 bit) = 640 MB/sec
    a 133 MHz SDRAM DIMM (64 bit) = 850 MB/sec
    a 800 MHz RDRAM DIMM (16 bit) = 1280 MB/sec

    The payoff doesn't appear to be anywhere, at any speed. In it's 1st generation, it was on par with 100 MHz SDRAM. At 800 MHz (basically, when it sends data twice on one clock), it would dwarf anything currently available... But with royalties and such, it would seem that chipset manufacturers (Intel, Via, AMD) should do what Apple's done in the past and interleave their memory... Because once again, SDRAM would be at least equal to Rambus, and much cheaper (no patents, royalties, etc... so long as SOMEONE stands up and countersues Rambus for suing them for royalties related to SDRAM).

    Of course, my math could be wrong. My understandings could be wrong. This could be meaningless...
  • It looks like Intel was trying to back away from RAMBUS gracefuly after they hyped it for so long. Its good to see that they finaly came to their senses, but it seems like we could have been spared a lot of problems if they had been more farsighted.

    Now if only all corperations could back away so gracefuly. [*caugh*]MPAA[*caugh*]RIAA[*caugh*].


    ------

  • by jyuter ( 48936 ) <(jyuter) (at) (yu.edu)> on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:06AM (#862522) Homepage Journal
    Intel's Desktop 2001 Roadmap Update indicates direct Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) will only be used in the high-end desk-top market

    So it's not like Intel is giving up on RDRAM altogether - just on the lower-end machines. If they were switching because one is better, then they would just drop RDRAM totally.



    Being with you, it's just one epiphany after another
  • Everybody loves "RAMUS".
    --
  • by Idaho ( 12907 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:08AM (#862524)
    It is about time that Intel saw that Rambus does actually suck.

    The release of their 815i chipset already pointed in this direction (Rambus didn't really like that move :)

    Also, the 815i chipset seems to be faster then the 820i chipset (which uses expensive Rambus memory). Now, it looks like they're indeed going to drop it. Look at some of these articles:

    • This article [cnet.com] posted earlier today mentions that the new 1.4 Ghz Pentium IV will also support SDRAM, not only Rambus memory.
    • This article [tomshardware.com] at Tom's Hardware talks about the performance of 820 and 815 chipsets.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @07:55AM (#862525) Homepage
    Good question! I think it's because of:

    1) Area. Putting a reasonable amount of RAM (128 MB) onto a CPU core would make the chip huge. Die area is a big concern. That's why until recently the L2-caches were off-chip.

    2) Process. DRAM uses a special process that allows for vertical capacitors to achieve maximum density. Using this same process in a chip core would be expensive and wastefull.

    3) Effectivness. Putting the memory on chip wouldn't necessarily increase the speed that much. Powering the huge arrays of RAM still takes time. The delays on the traces and going on-off chip aren't the dominating factors.

    4) Upgradeablitily. You can't go to Best Buy and get another 64MB when your ram is on-chip.

    Eventually, you might see this. More likely to me, though, is just expanding cache hierarchies. You'll have a 128MB L5 cache to go with your 32GB of RAM. ^_^
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @08:00AM (#862529)
    So it's not like Intel is giving up on RDRAM altogether - just on the lower-end machines. If they were switching because one is better, then they would just drop RDRAM totally.

    Which means that the server market (>50% of DRAM sales), the portable and low-end desktop market (>30% of DRAM sales) are conceded to DDR. Leaving only the high-end desktop (<10%) for possible RDRAM territory. With that little volume, RDRAM is a niche product with niche-product pricing, always a generation behind in design and process, etc.

    In other words, not viable.

    Market stats courtesy of Advanced Memory International [ami2.com]
  • Now all we need is for Intel to pull out of the consumer market and were set.
  • You're right, 400MHz clock _is_ a huge pain in the butt.

    But they don't use a square wave. With the inductance of the copper traces dampening high freq. signals, it'd be impossible, so they don't even try. Instead they use a sine wave.

    And it's still a pain in the ass to design. :P
  • by wbb4 ( 60942 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:11AM (#862534)
    This comes as no major surprise, Intel announced not too long ago that it would include support for
    SDRAM with the Pentium 4 (where as the article stated, was originally going to only support Rambus). Considering AMD's push with DDR SDRAM with the Athlon, which is considerably cheaper than Rambus (duh :), and the fact that the Tbird Athlon is already, IMHO, a better processor than the Pentium 3, Intel really needs to get rid of some of it's crazy ideas and get back down to business. Comparing the Sledgehammer with the Itainium, it doesnt look all that great for Intel either (of course, Itainium has been hyped forever already, and were just now starting to learn about Hammer, so who knows).

    IIRC, Rambus is still going to be used solely for Itainium--of course in 20 years when Itainium is finally ready to ship (but only to Intel's bedbuddies like Dell for the first 6 months), maybe Rambus will finally be affordable.
  • by peter ( 3389 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:13AM (#862535) Homepage
    It is silly to use Rambus RAM, since SDRAM has lower latency. Rambus RAM has higher bandwidth, but if you need bandwidth you can always interleave memory. (the idea is similar to RAID striping. byte 1 comes from one ram chip, byte 2 comes from the other, so you have the same latency and twice the bandwidth. If you want more bandwidth, use more controllers and more chips. You can't do anything about latency except make each chip faster, though, which is why there's nothing you can do with Rambus to make it have SDRAM latency.)

    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • The hot Sun is a red ball glazing behind the electrically darkened window glasses. The office is covered with shiny chrome and black marble.

    -"Our business is going to hell. We oughta do something."

    -"Yeah. Like what?"

    The Fat guy takes a puff of his cigar.
    -"You know that guy RAMUS?"

    There is a moment of silence.
    -"Yeah."

    -"A class-A freakin' pencil-neck geek. Can't even use a spell checker. Let's pull the plug on him."
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Friday August 11, 2000 @06:14AM (#862537) Homepage Journal
    Well this isn't a bad move on intels part since they really dont need their high end systems having a $800 price difference from AMDs. Certainly they've wasted a TONNE of money and time over rambus and i'm sure they wouldn't be loosing out to AMD now if they had better directed all that effort.

    However as I see it the current big looser is toshiba who I think are one of the few DRAM manufacturers that agreed to pay rambus royalties on DIMMS, in order to continue their license to produce RIMMs.

    For those of you that dont remember this, rambus turned round and claimed that they had also patented regular SDRAM as well as their funky rambus. They started putting pressure on companies who already licensed rimm technology to pay up for dimm tech also. Toshiba (i think) were one of the few that complied, scared of loosing lucrative rambus contracts.

    Now they are stuck paying royalties to rambus for dimms... and without the big return on rimms they could seriously dent their business.

    AMD on the other hand got it right and i'm well pleased :) Without the burden on rambus this should give intel a fighthing chance against amd and bring prices down more :)

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