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Intel backtracks over Rambus rumpus

Chip maker Intel is backtracking over the comment made by its CEO Craig Barrett in a recent Financial Times interview, in which...

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Chip maker Intel is backtracking over the comment made by its CEO Craig Barrett in a recent Financial Times interview, in which he stated that using Rambus memory technology was a "mistake", writes Daniel Thomas.

The company now says that it was a slip of the tongue and that Intel will continue to use Rambus' RDRam with its high-end processors.

Barrett's comments triggered a chain of events leading to the leaking of a confidential internal document which contained a development roadmap implying that Intel was phasing out RDRam from every computing platform, with the exception of its high-end workstations, by mid 2001.

According to the document, Intel will phase out the slow-selling Direct RDRam-enabled 820 chipset in the first quarter of next year, while the yet to be introduced Intel 850 chipset will be dropped in the middle of the third quarter.

The roadmap also showed the Brookdale, an Intel designed DDR chipset, replacing the 850/Rambus chipset next year for high-end "mainstream 3" PCs in the £1,000-£1,500 price range.

After the leak, Rambus' share value plummeted, prompting Intel to restate its position. Intel officials claimed that Barrett did not mean to say Rambus but was instead referring to Intel's Timna processor, a Rambus-optimised value-class processor that was cancelled in mid-development cycle due to problems with a translation hub that would have allowed the Timna processor to operate SDRam.

"Our position has not changed. Rambus DRam will be the memory performance for Pentium 4 processors as well as Pentium III," said a UK Intel spokesman.

This was first published in November 2000

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