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July 6, 2000

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Subject:  Micron Readies DDR Memory
Author:  gwj1

Doh! That was 9 months ago!

If you listen to the AMD/DDR supporters in the media and on these message boards you would think nothing is wrong with DDR. Never has been, never will be. I think they are hypocrites. Here's why.

If you are an AMD/DDR supporter I want you to take a couple of tests with me and see what you think. First, let's pretend that the fates of RDRAM and DDR have been reversed. DDR is ramping up on schedule and RDRAM still doesn't work. Let's also pretend that back in Oct 99 Intel said it still had a couple of bugs to work out in it's RDRAM chipset but it still expected it to be on the market in Jan. 2000. Now it is July of 2000 and RDRAM still doesn't work. If that were the case would you cut Intel/Rambus as much slack as you are currently giving DDR? No, I know you wouldn't. I remember last Oct. when Intel delayed its RDRAM chipset by just one month. Do you remember what you said about Intel and Rambus back then? Do you remember how stupid Intel was? Do you remember calling RDRAM vaporware? Clearly, based on the article above, Micron fully expected DDR to be on the market in Jan. 2000. Now if a one-month delay in RDRAM meant doom and gloom for Intel/Rambus what does a six-month delay mean for AMD/DDR? Be fair!

Here's the next test. Let's pretend that RDRAM and DDR have turned out just the way they have the only difference is that AMD is using RDRAM and Intel is still trying to make DDR work. If that was the case AMD shareholders would be doing cartwheels right now. The critical fourth quarter is coming up and Intel is going to have to launch their P4 with PC133. Even better for AMD, the Mustang, which has been designed from the start to take advantage of RDRAM, is going to be released about then. Can the P4 with PC133 compete with Mustang/RDRAM? No way! Intel has wasted all that time and money on DDR and now they are going to have to spend even more time and money redesigning the P4 to use RDRAM. Finally AMD is going to kick Intel's ass.

If this were the case would you still think DDR was going to replace RDRAM? Of course not.

At the recent DDR convention in Taiwan the Samsung rep said that creating a standard DDR gerber was critical to mass producing DDR. I checked the JEDEC website last week and they had submitted some more preliminary proposals but still hadn't decided on a standard. What does this mean? Without a standard gerber it would be possible for a Via DDR chipset to work with Samsung memory but not with NEC, or an AMD DDR chipset might work with NEC memory but not with Samsung. What does this mean if you are a PC OEM? It means that DDR is a giant [mess]. If you are an OEM this is what the DDR/RDRAM debate looks like from a marketing/profitability standpoint.

This list is a month old but it still illustrates my point. If you are a Dell, HP, Compaq, or Gateway and there are billions of dollars at stake "coulda, woulda, shoulda" just doesn't get it.

I noticed on Samsung's website that you can buy DDR but they say it is with their gerber. (This is what gave me the idea to look on the JEDEC website.) What does this mean? It means that if the gerber that JEDEC decides on is different than Samsung's then Samsung is setting on a bunch of junk. No doubt this is true for everyone who has already designed a DDR chipset, mobo, or memory. This probably accounts for the DDR hold-up as much as anything else. No JEDEC member is going to vote for a DDR standard that is different from what they have designed. To me, this is the fatal flaw of JEDEC. Supporters would have you believe that JEDEC is some Utopian organization of scientist all working together for the common good. Horsepucky! Every member of JEDEC tries to use JEDEC to give themselves an advantage over their competition. Intel/Rambus may appear to be a dictatorship but sometimes that's what's necessary to get things done.

Even if JEDEC does decide on a DDR standard, every member that is not currently using that standard is going to have to redesign their products. This means more time and money for DDR, and time is something DDR has run out of. If they want to mass market DDR products in time for Christmas they need to be in mass production RIGHT NOW.

Here's the bottom line. Everyday RDRAM gets cheaper, faster, and more plentiful and everyday DDR falls further behind. It wasn't that long ago that people on this board were trying to convince us that the P4 would launch with DDR. Does anyone still believe that? I'll go out on a limb here. I'll bet even money AMD's Mustang launches with RDRAM. Hey, AMD hired those Rambus engineers for something didn't they?


P.S. Sorry this is so long but I held my tongue as long as I could.

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