SAN JOSE -- The DRAM makers attending Intel Corp.'s hastily-called Direct Rambus commitment meeting on Wednesday told the MPU giant they would make Direct RDRAMs only if they had non-cancelable orders from PC OEMs, according to chip company officials briefed on the session.
Sources said the originally scheduled two-day meeting in Chandler, Ariz., broke up Wednesday after individual DRAM companies declined to meet one-on-one with Intel to discuss increasing their Direct Rambus production schedules. Instead, the DRAM makers meet together with Intel as an industry group and stated a unified position (see May 17 story).
The group reportedly told Intel that memory firms would produce all the Direct Rambus chips they had orders for. However, at a time when the firms were pressed to produce enough SDRAMs to meet demand, they told Intel they wouldn't build Direct RDRAM parts for inventory if they didn't have non-cancelable orders.
The invited DRAM makers included all the major suppliers, except Hitachi and Mitsubishi. Both firms confirmed they hadn't been asked to attend. Sources believed IBM Microelectronics also didn't attend, but IBM couldn't be reached immediately for comment. Major PC OEMs also attended the session.
Sources believed Intel called the DRAM producers and PC OEMs on short notice to Chandler to try to squeeze more production commitments for Direct RDRAM. Intel reportedly feared that the looming SDRAM shortage and saturated production lines might cause memory makers to concentrate on SDRAM output, foregoing Direct RDRAMs that are made on the same production lines.
The DRAM makers also reportedly told Intel that they would sell Direct Rambus chips only at market prices, and not at any forced discount. Intel has been pushing to get Direct RDRAM prices at only a 30 percent premium over SDRAMs. A check of commodity and OEM prices for Direct Rambus modules reveals at least a three-fold increase over comparable memory size SDRAM DIMMs.
Sherry Garber, vice president of Semico Research Inc., in Phoenix, who has consistently projected low Rambus shipments through 2001, felt the last-minute meeting with DRAM producers was a sign of serious Intel concern that not enough Direct RDRAMs will be on the market this fall to support its Willamette processor launch that uses only the packet data memory.
Intel officials late Wednesday evening couldn't be reached for comment. It wasn't clear what Intel's response will be to the industry's demand that chip makers will only produce Direct RDRAM if they have non-cancelable orders.