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From Samurai chipset to NorthBridge

Ronald Hanaki
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Over the years, Micron has managed to continually tease us with various incarnations of their Samurai chipset. HardwareCentral had one of these not too long ago. Earlier this week, NeWs dAwG sent in this bit from x-bit labs (from Monday, November 13) about Micron’s alleged plans to finally enter the chipset market. Now comes word that Micron is considering scrapping its plans to release the vaunted Samurai DDR platform in favor of NorthBridge only solutions.

Micron Technology is ready to drop production plans for its Samurai DDR chipset, which has now morphed into at least two new embedded DRAM integrated graphics versions.

Officials said that the previously disclosed Mamba embedded DRAM technology will be used in a Northbridge chip using this name that has 8-megabytes of Level 3 cache on chip. Micron is also planning to add integrated graphics to Mamba, using its Rendition core, in a second version to be called Shogun.

The new Northbridge embedded DRAM/graphics chips throws the fate of Micron’s original Samurai full DDR chipset into doubt. Klein said Samurai has fulfilled its function “to stimulate the market” for double data rate memory. “Many third party chipset producers have now entered the market space that we were targeting for Samurai. There now will be an ample supply of DDR chipsets, and we are re-evaluating whether there is a need for Samurai.”

The Samurai was always a great “concept” chipset. It looks like Mamba, Scimitar, and Shogun will have to be paired with a third party SouthBridge if they are to ever come to market. Such is the competitive nature of the motherboard industry. With profit margins per motherboard being low, the traditional path to success is by landing OEM deals. Conspiracy buffs may even point the finger at NVIDIA but with so many DDR platforms coming down the pipe, this is not an entirely surprising development.

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