=doctype 7:45 p.m., 8/31/99
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Intel Corp. here late Wednesday afternoon is expected to present details of its plans to support 133-MHz synchronous SDRAM as an interim memory until its favored Direct Rambus DRAM ramps up in production.
The microprocessor giant has scheduled a last minute presentation on Wednesday at its Intel Developers Forum here to tell the industry how it will deal with delays in the availability of Rambus technology. An Intel spokesman today declined to comment about the presentation, adding "wait and see what we have to say on 133-MHz SDRAMs."
DRAM chip makers who have been briefed by Intel said the first chip sets to support 133-MHz memory will be available at the end of the first quarter next year. Most welcomed Intel's belated 133-MHz endorsement as helping to boost memory chip sales, although the microprocessor maker won't go all the way and support the industry standard PC133 memory interface in its chip sets.
Intel is reported to seek some slightly tighter memory interface specs than spelled out in PC133. Some memory producers felt this was a strategic move by Intel to hold back a widespread rush to PC133 and rival chip sets this fall until the firm can get its own chip sets on the market next year.
Memory firms said Intel has been secretive about the exact specifications for a new 133-MHz interface it plans to use for its chip sets. They generally believed it would be tightening up on existing PC133 specs, which would only be a yield issue on binout testing of 133-MHz chips. Most felt the Intel interface specs wouldn't require a chip redesign, but only be enough to allow Intel to make its own qualification of 133-MHz memory.
Suppliers were mixed on whether the unique Intel 133-MHz interface specs would cause PC makers to hold back PC133 orders until the Intel chip set is ready next year. They said Taiwan independents--Via Technologies, Acer Laboratory and Silicon Integrated Systems--already have a large share of the value-end PC chip set market. Their OEM customers aren't likely to hold back waiting on Intel, the DRAM makers believed.
The Intel 133-MHz memory interface is expected to be added to the upcoming Solano chip set, which is slated to be available next year as an advanced version of the 810e. The 810e will also have a 133-MHz processor front side bus. That would allow Intel to compete with independent Taiwan PC-133 chip set rivals in the sub $800-PC market segment.
Despite its last minute concession to 133-MHz memory chips, Intel remained firmly committed to Rambus Inc.'s Direct Rambus DRAMs at the developers forum here. Several sessions were devoted to designing in the Direct RDRAM chip as well as advanced applications running on the new chip.
Jay Bell, technology fellow at Dell Computer Corp., said his PC firm will be showing a desktop PC using Direct RDRAM in late September when the new memory and Intel 810 Camino chip set are introduced.