SAN JOSE -- Intel Corp. top executives today said the company will likely grant licenses to chip-set suppliers supporting double data rate (DDR) memories for its next-generation Pentium 4 processors.
"Intel has licensed third-party chip set suppliers for our architectures in the past, and we will continue to do so," said Albert Y.C. Yu, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Architecture Platform, while fielding questions at the Intel Developer Forum. So far Intel has refused to license technology for chip sets supporting its Pentium 4. When asked specifically about the Pentium 4, Yu repeated his statement and said Intel is not changing its policy of granting licenses for future architectures.
Analysts at the meeting noted that Intel is already working closely with partner ServerWorks Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., to adapt its DDR chip set to work with the Pentium 4 as well as processors for servers. However, the Intel observers wondered if Intel would include Taiwan chip set vendors in any Pentium 4 licensing agreements.
A corporate spokesman for Intel said the company is considering Pentium 4 licensing agreements with such suppliers as Via Technologies Inc., Acer Laboatories Inc., and Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SIS) in Taiwan. "Such licenses must make sense for Intel and the details must be carefully worked out," he said. A year ago, Santa Clara-based Intel steadfastly claimed it would refuse to license the Pentium 4 interface to any third party vendors, but the spokesman said "market conditions change, and Intel will adjust to the market."
Intel CEO Craig R. Barrett side-stepped a question on the company's licensing agreement with Rambus Inc., which precludes the microprocessor giant from developing its own DDR chip set (see July 18 story). "We have always said we like Direct Rambus [memory] for the high-performance market," he said, referring to Intel's promotion of Rambus DRAMs. "Memory solutions for other [PC] price points will depend on the market. Economics will dictate the memory choice, depending on price and availability of chips," Barrett said.
"We are not interested in hamstringing the market by pricing [memory] outside of the pricing points the market wants," added the chief executive officer.
Asked again if Intel would produce a DDR chip set of its own, Barrett reiterated his previous answer.