November 20, 2000
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More Than the Eye Can See
Recently we have been pummelled with comments from such supporters as Intel that Rambus was a mistake. That we will, in the tail end of 2001 come out with lower priced DDR and SDRAM equipped chips. The market panicked. We, collectively on this board, lost millions. But what really happened?
What really happened, as has happened many times before between Gorilla Intel and Monkey AMD is that Intel signaled to AMD, "look, we are not going to put up with you attacking us in the high-end, stop it, or we will destroy you, yet again, in the low end. We've done it before, and we will do it again."
This article is AMD's response back which unambiguously states, "yeah, okay, we get the message. We will stick in our niche." Look how AMD carefully and specifically states it enjoys its niche and how its new product road-map is just a few steps behind INTC's. Like the 1.5 ghz chip coming out when Intel is expected to have a 2 Ghz chip out. AMD is going out of its way to leave Intel alone in the high end.
This is classic game theory and signalling between two companies in an oligopoly. The companies can signal their intentions and avoid any anti-trust concerns.
So for those who had reason to believe this was Intel giving up their support for RDRAM, think again.
Another interesting thing Intel did was enter into that peculiar deal with Rambus which stated amongst other things that Intel could not support any competing memory alternative.
Why did Intel enter into such a one-sided agreement? In order to credibly commit itself to RDRAM. If it was to get MMs to commit resources to producing RDRAM it had to make very clear to the MMs that the investment would have plenty of time to pay off. Without this commitment the MMs would be uncertain whether or not RDRAM would be Intel's memory of choice and they would therefore be much, much, less likely to invest in RDRAM technologies.
So, although we see a lot of interpretations of how Rambus forced Intel to do this, or see Intel is dissing Rambus here, etc. It really is not that complicated. The DRAM industry, given the very few major players in it, are continuously playing games with and signaling each other.
When we see press releases like the one's I am talking about, put it into the perspective of the industry's competitive nature. Is this really a threat, a major feat etc., or is it just signaling or some other sort of game playing?
Industry Focus 2001
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