Intel's Brookdale to arrive early, support DDR?

— 4:57 PM on February 5, 2001

CNet news has this rather ambiguous report detailing Intel's plans to get Brookdale, their DDR chipset, into the mainstream well ahead of schedule.

Taiwanese manufacturer Gigabyte Technology claims to have, "code sheets of its [Intel] unreleased products." All done in an effort, "to prepare us and other motherboard manufacturers to facilitiate its official product launch."

Add to that the fact that the "Ctech Web site" reported Brookdale will arrive earlier than the third quarter 2001, and you begin to see a bit of sensational news forming. Ctech also made the bold claim that the chipset will not support only SDRAM, as Intel has insisted in the past, but instead will support DDR SDRAM. This is in direct contrast to a certain Mountain View, California company's claims.

I remain somewhat skeptical. Intel has had the apperance of getting things in gear the last couple of months. Timna was axed before it destroyed any more resources. Price cuts the last two months have been brutal enough to finally slash the price-heavy PIII 1GHz down 50% from its previous market selling price. There was also the sudden arrival of a 500MHz mobile PIII that could likely be powered by a hamster in a wheel. Timing and execution, a business aspect that management lost last year, is finally on the lips of Intel again.

Given these current trends, I guess it doesn't seem all that far-fetched that Intel might be set to release Brookdale early. I have to wonder if an earlier release would also signal an on-time or better arrival of Foster, P4 SMP, and maybe even 2GHz chips.

Again, though, I find my skepticism weighing heavily against the idea. CNet acts as if Gigabyte received actual Brookdale samples. Gigabyte said nothing of the sort, though. All they received were the white papers necessary to create a layout sans chipset. While that sounds all well and good, it is sort of hard to validate a motherboard without a chipset attached.

The arrival of Brookdale early also stirs up the hornet's nest called Rambus. Intel has tread fairly lightly against the litigous IP company in the past. Rambus has also made quite clear that Brookdale's release would represent an act of war. Is Intel ready to level its sixteen-inch deck guns at the company and dare them to take action? Is Rambus actually dumb enough to bite the hand that feeds it?

Then there is the whole issue of the P4 on DDR. I have a sneaking suspicion that the flagship processor might only get slower with DDR. There are certainly enough differences between Rambus and DDR to make it hard to reach a fair conclusion in advance. Sound off and tell me what you think.

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