Intel will fight for Rambus

Intel will fight for Rambus
David Manners Intel is squaring up to the rest of the semiconductor industry over the Direct Rambus memory interface standard. While DRAM makers are finding Rambus difficult and expensive to make, test and qualify, Intel is pressing for an autumn introduction. ‘Rambus might play a role but not this year. PC133 will be the technology of choice this year,’ said Martin Testorf, memory marketing engineer at Hitachi Semiconductors. ‘The costs for PC manufacturers are much lower for PC133 than for Rambus.’ Testorf said the fears of a delay with Rambus derive from Intel’s delay with the supporting chipset called Camino. However, other memory suppliers cite cost, yield and technical problems in the interface itself. ‘There are hideous problems with Rambus but our legal department says we cannot talk about them under our licence agreement with Rambus,’ said one supplier, though Rambus v-p Subodh Soprani described reports of such a legal restriction as ‘bullshit’. Memory companies complain that testing direct Rambus DRAM is expensive because ‘you can’t write to a location and read it back, you have to read a string and then do the error checking’ – a practice which involves using more testers than usual. Other manufacturers have identified a bug in the interface which would require a redesign on every masking level. This could result in half a year’s delay. Top tier PC manufacturers say they don’t want to wait for Rambus. ‘The official Intel/Rambus line is that the launch is still September but fears of delays will reduce Q4 volumes dramatically – we think by 60 to 70 per cent,’ said Peter Eckelmann, director of product marketing at Infineon Technologies. The 64Mbit Direct Rambus generation has now been written off as companies accelerate 128/144Mbit devices. Toshiba’s Henning Rausch said: ‘We’ll have engineering samples of our 144Mbit Direct Rambus DRAM in June, commercial samples in July and production in August.’ Intel offered money to NEC, Mitsubishi and Toshiba to commit to making Rambus which all three turned down.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*