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Rambus to make 2-channel RIMM

Ronald Hanaki
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Many of you know that Intel’s i850 chipset has a dual memory channel implementation that requires the use of two RIMM sticks at a time. PC Watch is reporting that Rambus will release a 2-channel RIMM (codename Platte). In other words, this one stick will be able to support dual memory channels thus eliminating the need for a second RIMM stick. Rambus also unveiled a lower cost RDRAM design called “4i” (4 independent banks). EBNews has the report.

The four-memory-bank chip can cut the Direct RDRAM cost by 20% to come close to parity with SDRAM in full production, said Jon Kang, senior vice president for memory product planning and applications engineering at Samsung Electronics Corp. Samsung expects to sample the four-bank RDRAM version later this year, and be ready to ramp up production as soon as the new Intel chipset is available.

Pete MacWilliams, Intel Fellow and specialist on the firm’s memory roadmap, said the new four-bank chipset will debut early in 2002. It will support both a single memory channel for mainstream PCs and a dual memory channel used by the current Willamette Pentium 4 version. He said Intel hasn’t yet selected a name for the new four-bank RDRAM chipset.

By reducing the number of pins and going to a new packaging dubbed WBCSP (wire bonding chip size package), Rambus hopes to both reduce the cost of manufacturing and lower the cost of the platform itself. In the end, motherboards that support RDRAM should only cost 7% more than motherboards that support PC-133 SDRAM. Currently, DDR motherboards carry a 6% price premium over vanilla SDRAM boards. Rambus’s earlier plans to release the 2-channel RIMM this year were stalled due to Intel’s waffling committment to the platform. Now, there are signs that Intel has recommitted itself to RDRAM. The 2-channel RIMM is only the beginning. Samsung is investigating the viability of 4 and 8 channel RIMMs. PC1066 RDRAM should debut next year.

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