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Intel Waves Goodbye to Rambus. Finally

Posted 9/11/02 at 7:31 pm by Anton

As it was reported at Intel Developer Forum, the biggest microprocessor’s supplier in the world will not develop any chipsets that make use of RDRAM memory. The i850E is the last one that will be available for some time, but Intel will not renew this chipset anymore, e.g. no up to date I/O controllers and no new memory types will be introduced for it.

In fact, Intel has not developed anything new with RDRAM support for almost two years already. In 2000 and early 2001 the company introduced its i850 and i860 chips that are still up and running. The i850E was updated with 533MHz FSB and PC1066 RDRAM memory support this year, that was not too hard to do so to speak. Although Intel still have to officially validate the PC1066 memory for i850E, it is clear that the validation is a formal task that has nothing to do with the technology. Intel assured us that they will have no PC1200 and PC1333 RDRAM supporting platforms and will not implement their support in i850E core-logic.

Generally, i850E will drag out its existence on the desktop market right up to the second half of 2003, when Intel unveils its Pentium 4 “Prescott” processors with 667MHz Quad Pumped Bus and Springdale-P core-logic with 2-channel PC2700, AGP 8x and Serial ATA support. On the workstation market i850E will be gradually forced out with the up and coming E7205 (aka Granite Bay) that is set to come this October. On the server niche there is i860 core-logic that supports Intel Xeon processors and 2-channel PC800 RDRAM. This one will also be discontinued quite soon. Intel will not validate the PC1066 memory for i860 since they will launch E7505 (aka Placer) in the fourth quarter. The latter, as you can easily guess, will utilise 2-channel PC1600/2100 and will be equipped with PCI-X and AGP 8x support.

So, in about two years time Intel has completely changed its plans and turned from RDRAM to DDR SDRAM in all market sectors. Nevertheless, Rambus’ Steve Tobak was quite optimistic today, or, at least, tried to be, here is what he had to say: No one can predict what will happen, but I expect continued strong RDRAM support from chipset, OEMs and white box manufacturers. In face of a difficult market, the demand for RDRAM is one bright spot. As we execute our roadmap, we expect RDRAM performance advantage to only increase.

Well, I have no idea about “strong support”, but I want to remind you that the demand on RDRAM dropped in August and it is expected that it will continue declining. Currently, only SiS has plans to develop the RDRAM supporting line of core-logic devices, but even the company itself claims that their R658 and its future updates are aimed on the market of expensive and high-performance computers. Given that the market share of such PCs is relatively small and always occupied by Intel, we cannot be as optimistic as Rambus is. Of course, SiS will support both PC1200 and PC1333 in future products, moreover, RDRAM is used in various communication devices as well as in PlayStation2 consoles, but I will not make a mistake if I claim that Rambus epoch on the PC front is on its sunset.

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