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February 23, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Intel Corp’s planned introduction of Direct Rambus technology has been delayed while technical difficulties are tackled, the company admitted yesterday, confirming widespread industry reports over the last few months. While Intel insists that it is still on track to meet its original public statement that it will ship the first Direct RDRAM platform products in 1999, Intel Fellow Peter MacWilliams told developers yesterday that Intel’s internal schedule for platform integration – originally mid-1999 – had now slipped to the third quarter. We do have platforms running, but are still working on high volume issues MacWilliams said during his presentation at the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs yesterday. There has been a small delay [but] it’s not significant he said. Intel said it has found problems with compliant ingredients, which means that the parts fail to meet the required specifications when produced in anything but small volumes. Not all vendors could build parts to specification at high volume said MacWilliams, who said that Intel was currently working to fix the problems. Ingredient interactions with other parts of the system, not identified during simulation, had also come to light, as had difficulties with impedance levels and inconsistent testing techniques that failed to show properly if parts were meeting the spec. The news is bad for Rambus Inc, which is currently spending resources preparing for what is eventually expected to be a fast ramp-up of RDRAMs, but not yet getting any of the revenue benefits. MacWilliams said that, while the effect on 1999 shipments of RDRAM might look dramatic, the effect over the next few years would be minimal. The delay takes some of the pressure off of memory chip suppliers, who were also struggling to keep up with the transition schedule. Eight memory chip makers now have silicon, and several vendors are close to demonstrating full compliance. He wouldn’t speculate on the level of price premium that will be imposed on PCs using Direct RDRAM, and said Intel had no new information on performance levels. Intel continues to dismiss alternative memory technologies such as DDR and 133MHz SDRAM which are gaining some support in the workstation world, saying they would require new motherboards and memory modules to work in desktop PCs. For its graphics workstations, however, Intel will initially extend its current PC 100 memory to SDRAM 100-166, an increase in clock speed up to 166MHz. Next year it plans to make the transition over to Direct RDRAM for Graphics, once the Rambus technology has been established into the mainstream.

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