Intel today will make public plans to support synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) for its forthcoming Pentium 4 chip. The news is important, because it will help PC makers bring the cost of Pentium 4 systems down.
The chip maker has added to its roadmap a new chip set that will support 133MHz SDRAM, known as PC133, for the Pentium 4.
The chip set will be available next year, Intel officials said. Sources expect that it will ship in the second half of the year.
Intel officials feel that Rambus direct RAM (RDRAM) will continue to be the memory of choice for the performance desktop.
However, they acknowledge a need for a memory technology that will allow PC makers to deliver Pentium 4 systems at lower, "mainstream" prices. RDRAM continues to command a hefty premium over SDRAM.
News of the new chip set may seem like a change of direction for Intel, which had previously only publicly stated support for RDRAM on the Pentium 4.
However, the company maintains that it always considers supporting multiple memory technologies for its chip sets.
So was Intel looking at supporting SDRAM or even double data rate DRAM (DDR DRAM) for Pentium 4?
"We continuously assesses new technologies for our chip sets and processors," said Intel spokesman George Alfs. "We have decided that this is the right time to discuss this with our customers."
Alfs said that in fact, "we are investigating a DDR option for this chip set." However, there are no other details on whether or not the company will make such an option available.
Intel will offer SDRAM support, and is evaluating DDR, because "We want to make sure that Pentium 4 ... is accessible to everyone with a variety of chip sets and memory types," Alfs said.
As has been previously discussed, the Pentium 4 will enter the market at the high end. The first chip set available for it will be Intel's 850, which will support dual channel RDRAM.
Intel's PC133 chip set for Pentium 4 could be around for some time.
Intel officials predict SDRAM will be available at least through the end of 2001.
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