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Rambus, a designer of interconnection and memory technologies, indicated wish for returning to personal computer market with its new DRAM and interface techs. While the company is likely to benefit from being incorporated into the Cell processors and consumer electronics on their base, the ultimate goal is still PC memory.

“We want to find ways to get back on the Intel roadmap… The ultimate target is PC main memory,” said Rambus CEO Harold Hughes in an interview with The Street.

Rambus official did not provide any guidance where the company targets its technologies for Intel – for desktop, workstation, server, consumer, mobile or any other platforms.

Rambus Direct DRAM was first introduced to the PC market in 1999 along with Intel’s chipsets 820 and 840 supporting single-channel and dual-channel RDRAM respectively as well as Intel Pentium III for desktops and Intel Pentium III Xeon processors for servers and workstations. The desktop platform was not popular, the server platform also did not become really widespread at that time due to high price of RDRAM and low benefits the memory could provide. The second RDRAM push occurred in 2000 with the release of Intel Pentium 4 processors, where RDRAM provided significant benefits over other memory types at that time. But eventually Intel had to switch to more cost-efficient SDRAM, DDR SDRAM and dual-channel with its desktop, server and workstation platforms due to high prices of RDRAM and performance advantages dual-channel DDR could give.

Now Rambus has a new type of memory which is called XDR DRAM and a bunch of high-speed interconnection technologies; XDR along with FlexIO bus have already won numerous designs with consumer electronics (CE) companies, particularly, the Cell processor, which will power a large array of CE products including Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, incorporates XDR DRAM memory controller and uses Rambus FlexIO bus.

XDR DRAM operates at up to 6.40GHz and with 128-bit memory access may provide up to 51.2GB/s bandwidth. By contrast, DDR2 at 667MHz pumps up to 10.6GB per second.

Intel did not disclose particular plans for long-term future of their platforms, but the company announced intention to use DDR2, FB-DIMM and DDR3 types of memory with its products. XDR DRAM is not currently featured in Intel’s public roadmaps, although, this does not mean that the world’s largest chipmaker does not consider it at all. Still, the company’s desktop platforms’ currently do not have memory bottleneck problems as Intel’s processor system bus clocked at 1066MHz can consume up to 8.5GB of data per second.

Intel representatives did not comment on the story.


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