HSINCHU, Taiwan -- Winbond Electronics Corp. here today announced it has begun ramping volume production of Rambus DRAMs, with samples now available of 128- and 256-megabit memories based on Rambus Inc.'s chip architecture. Winbond becomes the first Taiwan chip company to launch Rambus DRAM production.
Earlier this month, Winbond hinted that it might get into the RDRAM business (see June 12 story), but the company has recently noted that an ample supply was available from Samsung, Toshiba and Elpida, the NEC-Hitachi joint venture. But in its announcement today, Winbond indicates that it believes demand is now growing for RDRAM memories among personal computer manufacturers.
"Rambus RDRAMs will be a strategic part of our product offerings this year," said CC Chang, president of Winbond. "Winbond is committed to meeting the PC industry's need for higher memory bandwidth, and we intend to be an important RDRAM supplier to PC companies."
The ramp of RDRAM memories in Taiwan is aimed at helping to promote the chip architecture against double data rate (DDR) synchronous RAMs, which have gained momentum in the island's PC industry.
Winbond--Taiwan's largest DRAM maker--entered in to the top 10 ranking of DRAM suppliers in 2000, according to International Data Corp. Winbond did not release information about how much of its DRAM capacity would be dedicated to the Rambus format.
But for Silicon Valley-based Rambus Inc., the ramp is a key element in helping to build up supplies for PC makers. "Winbond will be a key supplier of RDRAMs for OEMs and various channels as they move to volume production later this year," said Dave Mooring, president of Rambus in Los Altos, Calif. "As a leading DRAM supplier in Taiwan, Winbond will add local production capacity which is important to support the ramp of Pentium4/RDRAM-based systems."
Taiwan chip makers account for about 12% of the world's memory market. Because of the island's minority status in the market, Winbond's ramp up will most likely have a modest impact on supply, analysts have said. Winbond's decision to make RDRAMs is also seen as a feather in the cap of Rambus.
So far, the rest of Taiwan's memory makers favor double-data-rate DRAM. Vanguard Semiconductor Corp., a subsidiary of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., is the only other Taiwanese licensee of Rambus, but it has no immediate plans to produce RDRAMs.
Winbond said it would not have to make significant capital investments to get into the RDRAM market because it will be supported by Toshiba Corp., which currently supplies Rambus DRAMs to Sony Corp. for use in its Playstation 2 game consoles.
--Additional reporting for this was story was provided by Mike Clendenin of EE Times in Taiwan.