SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As expected, Intel Corp. now appears to be taking a neutral stance on whether mainstream PC manufacturers use Rambus memories or synchronous DRAMs with the upcoming "Northwood" Pentium 4 processor. Intel's position is reflected in a leaked memory roadmap that has been published on a Web site operated by InQuest Market Research of Gilbert, Ariz.
The research firm obtained the roadmap from personal computer OEMs, according to analyst Bert McComas, principal at InQuest. He said the memory roadmap still shows the Pentium 4 being supported Intel's "Tehama" chip set for Rambus DRAMs, but it also will be served by the "Brookdale" SDRAM chip set. The roadmap, available on InQuest's Web site (http://www.Inqst.com), shows the Direct Rambus version using a new upgraded Tehama-E chip set with an upgraded ICH-3 Southbridge I/O controller hub, McComas said.
An Intel spokesman would not comment on Intel's unannounced products, but he did reiterate the company's position of letting PC makers determine the type of advanced memory used with the Pentium 4. Last month, it became obvious that Intel was shifting its weight from just backing the RDRAM from Rambus Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., to leaving the memory choice up to its MPU customers (see July 28 story).
Now the question is: Which memory approach will be favored in the initial Pentium 4-based PCs? McComas said he felt the PC OEMs will predominately want the less costly double data rate (DDR) SDRAMs instead of Direct Rambus in mainstream Pentium 4 systems. "But the roadmap shows that Intel will still give OEMs the option to use Direct Rambus with the 9the mainstream) Northwood if they want," added the InQuest analyst.
As previously reported, McComas said the mainstream Pentium 4 is expected to be introduced in the third quarter of 2001. Using Intel's new 0.13-micron process, the processor is expected to ultimately achieve speeds of up to 2 gigahertz. Also in mid-2001, Intel is expected to launch the "Tualatin" Pentium III, using the 0.13-micron process, for processing speeds up to 1.4 GHz.