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Flown by the Dream

I’m going to plunge into pure fantasies in this section of the article, without any trace of the so-called common sense. Let’s be carried away by dreams? Once again, everything I’m going to talk about in this section is a pure fantasy that doesn’t base on anything solid, save for some general widely-accepted information.

I’m going to start with PC memory. It’s clear that sooner or later, we’ll all have DDR2 in our computers. The numerical magic works on the customer: “DDR2 is newer than DDR and 2 is more than 1”. Yes, AMD will transition to DDR2 since DDR2-533 or even later. Anyway, they have to increase the speed, while there’s no evident candidate to become a replacement for DDR. It’s really sad that the technologies of Rambus are not called for in the PC market due to the company’s careless licensing policy. Rambus made a strategic mistake, deciding to rake in all money at a stroke. And the mistake was in no way connected to the technical characteristics of their produce. Regrettably, the company’s style was far from being “fair play”. The very situation when a member of a JEDEC committee secretly patents originally open technologies and specifications (and then demands licensing fees from its partners) smells bad.

That’s why there’s no hope that manufacturers will put their stake on Rambus again (or cooperate with the company in any other way). Why I woke up the Rambus affair? Because the company has an exciting technology called XRD SDRAM, which is an embodiment of the Yellowstone ideology. Its key point is in transferring data eight times per clock cycle (compare to 2 transfers with DDR technology). That’s really impressive. Regrettably, the licensing fees for this technology are too high for a majority of memory makers. Although some manufacturers like Samsung have the license, they use it mostly in communication equipment where performance is more important than price: XDR SDRAM can provide a bandwidth of 100GB/s today! No other available memory technology (even Full Buffered DRAM Intel has started talking about) can even dream of such speeds. It’s true, this memory subsystem would make our computer systems much faster and would allow forgetting for a long time about the memory bandwidth – it’s no secret that the overall performance growth of computer systems is badly limited by memory speeds.

Well, we can’t dream about that, at least while Rambus keeps on with its current licensing system. Moreover, the company has spoiled its reputation and its technological superiority is not the only factor that matters.

Now let’s see what we can shape up from the existing technologies. Support of DDR2 will require a new processor packaging and a new processor socket. Let’s call it Socket X as we don’t know the exact number of the pins (they may be as many as 1000 and more). Accordingly, AMD will have to release an Athlon 64 model for this memory type and processor socket. It will be wise to offer only top-end processor models for this platform as the memory and mainboards will be much more expensive than their DDR analogs. 
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