Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Before you build a P4 read this!

Last response: in CPUs
Share
May 8, 2001 9:57:07 PM

This week Rambus faces Fraud charges. Before building a P4 I would state that you should consider the following (below). I am not saying don't do it. I am just stating that you should consider whether under the circumstances it is the best option.

It is likely that Rambus will be found guilty of Fraud charges. Every single motion against Infineon. If Rambus is found guilty you can expect them to pay hefty penatlies and possibly be penalized in a non-momentary way. This will surely bring down the stock value hard. Even if they are found innocent their stock will more than likely suffer for some time.

The companies that paid royalties to Rambus will now be taking Rambus to court to get their money back ("with interest"). This is going to be yet another financial blow. This one is going to cripple the company.

Rambus is in big trouble financially for the above two reasons but also all of the litigation is costing Rambus millions. The ace up their sleeve was to win the case and thus become paper rich.

Intel may finally have a way out of having to use Rambus technology. I can't imagine the contracts between Intel and Rambus not giving Intel a way out if Rambus should either fail to produce the required quantities (in-house or via licensing) or have any negative image in the public. Considering all the financials troubles Rambus may not be able to deliver product. Considering the Fraud case, Rambus's bad reputation may negate the contract if that term was stipulated (which almost always it is).

I think one should give serious thought before investing in anything that uses Rambus RAM. It just might be a dead end system with no support in the future.

That's my $.02.

It worked yesterday! :lol: 

More about : build read

Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 8, 2001 10:17:06 PM

Good Post!

The royalty that RAMBUS charges for DDR-RAM is 3.5% of sales. The market is expected to hit $50 billion a year. Can you do the math on this? Just astpunding what a toll this could have been!
May 8, 2001 10:21:20 PM

"if Rambus should either fail to produce the required quantities"

Rambus doesn't make any RAM at all. They were just the original designers of RDRAM. Dozens of memory manufacturers are the ones responsible for creating RDRAM. Should Rambus go extinct, RDRAM will go on. It would then become an open standard.

"It just might be a dead end system with no support in the future"

It has quite a future actually, completely independant of that of Rambus as a company. RDRAM is really taking off in the industry, with dozens of memory manufacturers creating it. Currently there is more demand than supply, so we can expect the industry to keep ramping up production, and prices to continue dropping.

I recommend performance and price to be the main considerations when deciding on what type of memory you want for your system. RDRAM is definately not going away any time soon.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
Related resources
May 8, 2001 10:25:59 PM

Not meant to be a flame or anything. I was just wondering, if Rambus did really have to pack up and go would Rdram really become an open standard? It seems to me like Rambus would still want some sort of royalty for rdram itself.
May 8, 2001 10:31:47 PM

"if Rambus did really have to pack up and go would Rdram really become an open standard? It seems to me like Rambus would still want some sort of royalty for rdram itself."

Well, either Rambus exists or it does not. If it exists, then there's no problem with RDRAM's future remaining on par with what it is today. If they do not exist, they cannot ask for royalties. In this case, the company that holds the patents/copyrights no longer exists and, unless these patents are sold, they fall into the public domain. If the patents are sold, the purchasing company, perhaps Samsung, would then be collecting the royalties and designing the standards for RDRAM.

In any case, RDRAM still continues to thrive as a technology. Technology is independant from companies.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 8, 2001 10:35:37 PM

Thanks, I wasn't sure what happened to patents when a company goes under.
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 8, 2001 11:22:39 PM

Good Post!

The royalty that RAMBUS charges for DDR-RAM is 3.5% of sales. The market is expected to hit $50 billion a year. Can you do the math on this? Just astounding what a toll this could have been!
May 8, 2001 11:38:58 PM

This post was about RDRAM, not DDR.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 9, 2001 4:44:58 AM

raystonn, do you have large quantities of Rambus stock or something because you are the only one to every stick up for the technology.

<A HREF="http://static.stileproject.com/pika.swf" target="_new">Hyakugojyuuichi!!</A>
May 9, 2001 4:46:53 AM

and on a separate note, would you personally even consider buying those cheap RDRAM sticks that go for the low end of the prices? many, many people have learned their lesson in buying cheap products because of attractive price, so does the lowest price for the memory actually tell us anything if few intelligible people are even going to consider it?

<A HREF="http://static.stileproject.com/pika.swf" target="_new">Hyakugojyuuichi!!</A>
May 9, 2001 6:00:04 AM

RDRAM goes through strenuous testing before it's approved for sale. This is actually one of the things that makes it slightly more expensive to make. SDRAM doesn't have this because it's an open standard. Noone wil threaten to revoke an SDRAM license if a manufacturer releases subpar components. You can basically be assured that if it's listed as PC800, it really is. It makes them a bit more expensive to produce, but I like the extra quality.

Just to answer yoru previous post, no I do not own any Rambus stock. I personally don't like the actions Rambus's lawyers have taken. (Remember I don't necessarily speak for my employer here.) But I do like RDRAM as a technology.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 9, 2001 6:54:27 PM

Surely this is good news! If RAMBUS looses its patents and royalties, it will open the market. We could be looking at cheaper, faster RAMBUS very, very soon. Plus, the Taiwanise would be fools to change the format just because the companie dissolves.

~ The First Formally Rehabilitated AMD Lemming ~
May 9, 2001 8:02:36 PM

Raystonn -

You say, "RDRAM goes through strenuous testing before it's approved for sale. This is actually one of the things that makes it slightly more expensive to make."

Do you think that, should Rambus' patents be invalidated, RDRAM could be made at a cost that would allow it to compete on price alone?


beans
May 9, 2001 9:12:36 PM

"Do you think that, should Rambus' patents be invalidated, RDRAM could be made at a cost that would allow it to compete on price alone?"

Rambus's RDRAM patent will not be invalidated. The court cases are about SDRAM, not RDRAM. Eventually RDRAM will compete based on performance alone because price will be on par with other memory technologies. This same thing happened when SDRAM was first introduced into a market full of 72-pin RAM. SDRAM was extremely expensive at first due to low supplies and high demand.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 9, 2001 9:52:15 PM

Raystonn -


Do you mean that RDRAM's cost of manufacture is, or can be, as low as that of SDRAM?

beans
May 9, 2001 10:18:30 PM

"Do you mean that RDRAM's cost of manufacture is, or can be, as low as that of SDRAM?"

Once production has been ramped up and the overhead of buying the new testing equipment has already been absorbed, yes, RDRAM will cost about the same as SDRAM to produce. The situation we are now seeing is exactly the same as that when SDRAM was introduced to replace 72-pin RAM.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 9, 2001 11:30:36 PM

Raystonn -

You mean there's a shortage of RDRAM relative to the demand for it, and that's what's driving the price up?

beans
May 9, 2001 11:57:20 PM

"You mean there's a shortage of RDRAM relative to the demand for it, and that's what's driving the price up?"

The price for RDRAM is not going up, but down. The main factors that cause RDRAM to be expensive to begin with include the requirement for new testing and manufacturing equipment and slow production speeds. The more RDRAM a manufacturer pumps out, the less each module costs. Also, the slower production moves, the less modules are are out the market. SDRAM is very cheap right now because the market is flooded with it. This will eventually happen to RDRAM as well.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 10, 2001 2:16:40 AM

Chrisojeda wrote:

"It is likely that Rambus will be found guilty of Fraud charges. Every single motion against Infineon. If Rambus is found guilty you can expect them to pay hefty penatlies and possibly be penalized in a non-momentary way. This will surely bring down the stock value hard. Even if they are found innocent their stock will more than likely suffer for some time."

You are absolutely right. Take a look at this:

http://www.cnbc.com/chart/chart.html?sym=RMBS

It's down 8.5% in one day!
May 10, 2001 6:36:42 AM

Raystonn -

What I meant by "driving the price up" was "keeping RDRAM prices high with respect to those of other technologies."

In other words, are you saying all available RDRAM production is selling at current prices?


beans
May 10, 2001 7:24:10 AM

"all available RDRAM production is selling at current prices?"

I do not understand what you mean. Everything in existence is 'selling at current prices.' That is the definition of 'current prices.'

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 10, 2001 4:38:59 PM

Raystonn -


I guess I shouldn't post late at night.


At any given price, a certain amount of RDRAM will sell. There is a price at which RDRAM makers will sell everything they can produce.

If they set a higher price, less RDRAM will sell. Makers will idle some of their production capacity, and/or RDRAM will start to accumulate in their warehouses.

What I'm asking is, do you think RDRAM makers are setting prices low enough to sell everything they can produce, using all available production capacity? Or, are they setting a higher price and selling less than that?


beans
May 10, 2001 9:58:03 PM

I'm sure they're selling every module they make. I'm not a marketing guy and I don't work with those manufacturers, so I really don't know for certain. The main factor keeping prices higher is they are not yet able to make enough. The manufacturers are continuing to ramp up production every day. The more they make, the less each will cost.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 11, 2001 1:38:02 AM

Quote:
I'm sure they're selling every module they make. I'm not a marketing guy and I don't work with those manufacturers, so I really don't know for certain. The main factor keeping prices higher is they are not yet able to make enough. The manufacturers are continuing to ramp up production every day. The more they make, the less each will cost.

Isn't it more or less true that most of the demand is coming from the OEM sector as opposed to the public sector? If that is the case, isn't it likely that once a cheaper P4 solution comes out (SDRAM or DDR) that most of the P4 systems built will use those cheaper components? That means, if true, that the public sector won't adopt it as much, and the demand will plummet. Also, since only P4 systems use it, there can't be that much demand right now, and I figured that most manufactures would have banked on the idea that since it's Intel, that it will sell well.

Seriously, I don't see RDRAM getting anywhere. When you look at the big picture, SDRAM is the king of the hill, be it PC100 or PC133. DDR-RAM is the logical successor to SDRAM, as it's the same type of RAM, just with an extra transmission in a clock cycle. Plus, DDR will eventually ramp up to 300 and 333MHz (PC2400 and PC2700) by the end of this year. Also, since AMD refuses to use RDRAM, a major CPU builder doesn't accept it, and since Intel will be building a DDR solution for the P4, and ones already exist for the P3, it is safe to say that a super-majority is behind DDR, and only a few are clinging to RDRAM. Don't forget that graphics cards use DDR memory and not a one has used, or been announced to use, RDRAM.

I think two things happened. First, since RDRAM has to be installed in pairs, it harkens back to the old days, where if you wanted to upgrade your RAM, it was tedious, and if you had 16MB RAM, and wanted 32MB, you either had to get two 16MB sticks, or two more 8MB sticks. If you do the former, you throw out two sticks, and if you do the latter, you increase the memory latency. It was expensive to upgrade, and too much hassle. Then SDRAM came out and the world rejoiced. No more pair installations. Want and extra 32MB? Don't need to buy two 16MB sticks, just get a 32MB stick. And guess what, the latency of the RAM isn't increased. The same goes for DDR. Second, I think that Rambus, in its haste to become a solid leader in RAM design, pushed too hard, and really pissed some people off. They screwed over a lot of other members on the standards board, and then went ahead with a technology that other groups had rejected/didn't think was fesible. The only thing that protected Rambus was its contract with Intel. At least then, Rambus was assured some kind of income and royalties and licensing fees. But alas, Rambus's past came back to haunt it, and Infinion (sp?) fought back. According to the news today, they not only kicked Rambus's suit out the door, but recieved punitive damages as well. I'm sure that Intel's legal department is scrambling to a) see if there is a way out of their contract with Rambus, and b) purge any traces of possible colusion (sp?) with Rambus. The last thing that Intel wants or needs right now is to be dragged into a legal battle of Rambus vs. the memory makers of the world.

Sorry that went on, but I really don't like the RDRAM technology, or the company that produced it. Plus, while it seems to help the P4, I really don't see it as being enough of a performance boost to justify any size of premium on SDRAM and DDR-RAM. Guess we'll have to wait and see if the DDR solution for the P4 will be on par with the RDRAM solution. Also, I would like to say that some people out there believe that the DDR solution to the P4 may be limited to PC1600, since Intel chips require memory to be at the same speed as the FSB.

-SammyBoy

Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 11, 2001 1:48:22 AM

"since only P4 systems use it, there can't be that much demand right now"

Actually, there is a very high demand right now compared to supply. Intel sold its 1 millionth Pentium 4 during Q1 of this year and sales keep increasing. As far as the negative comments about the Rambus company, I will keep out of that. Regardless of Rambus, RDRAM is a great technology.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 11, 2001 8:58:08 AM

"Also, I would like to say that some people out there believe that the DDR solution to the P4 may be limited to PC1600, since Intel chips require memory to be at the same speed as the FSB."

But wasnt intel going to introduce 133 fsb with Nortwood ? That would require PC2100 in a DDR configuration..
May 11, 2001 5:34:07 PM

Quote:
Actually, there is a very high demand right now compared to supply. Intel sold its 1 millionth Pentium 4 during Q1 of this year and sales keep increasing.

Well, my only questions then are these: Although Intel has sold the 1 millionth unit, were they mostly to OEM and resellers in bulk, therefore, not nessicarily assembled yet, or is the one million referring to the total amount of P4-based machines built and sold to end-users?, What is 1 million compared to sales of P3s, Celerons, and AMD's lines in the same period (in other words, what was the total % of P4s sold compared to total CPUs sold)?, and Wasn't the expected arrival of the P4 on the market supposed to be a big deal, therefore, making the need for RDRAM chips great? Now, if any of those questions point to a situation where the actual need for RDRAM is great, then my assertion about RDRAM being a technology that manufactures are loath to accept would be correct.

It would seem then that the memory manufactures out there would rather continue to build SDRAM and DDR-RAM instead of paying royalties and licensing fees to Rambus (SDRAM and DDR-RAM being open source, RDRAM being patented by Rambus). Also, it seems that Intel's marketing department either failed to sell the P4's reliance on RDRAM to other companies, or they grossly underestimated the selling power of the P4, the latter being the least likely. Usually it is very rare for a company, be it Intel, AMD, IBM, or what not, to not be overly optimistic about a product, since it's their job is to give the most positive spin possible.

So, if those statements are true, it would seem that RDRAM is going to have an extremely tough time at becoming the standard, and actually, as long as Rambus keeps RDRAM technology proprietary (sp?) then it will never become a standard, as by the time the patent expires and Rambus is no longer collecting licensing fees and royalties, the next advancement in RAM will come along, rendering RDRAM and DDR obsolete.

-SammyBoy

Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 11, 2001 5:44:35 PM

Well, I don't know how good the source is, but <A HREF="http://freespace.virgin.net/m.warner/RoadmapQ102.htm" target="_new"> here</A> is a link to this quote:

"<b> Intel i845B chipset (Brookdale DDR),</b> for use with the Pentium 4 'Northwood', is expected to be released in Q1 2002. The DDR version of the Brookdale chipset may only be able to support PC1600 DDR SDRAM rather than the faster PC2100 variety, possibly due to complications with asynchronous FSB memory access and Intel's leaning towards RDRAM. It should be noted that if DDR Brookdale does not have support for PC2100 or higher, its performance is likely to be little better than the PC133 SDR version due to DDR's higher latencies. The DDR version of Brookdale is expected to use the ICH3 south bridge."

So, if the source is good, the technology unchanged, the analysis good, and everything else falls the same way, then no, Northwood will still be limited to PC1600 due to a 100MHz FSB... or at least that's what I think the reason would be.

-SammyBoy


Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 11, 2001 5:55:32 PM

I believe the reason RDRAM is more thoroughly tested is because it has to be tested as an assembled RIMM, unlike SDRAM. This is one of the reasons it is more expensive.

Memory manufacturers ramped up RDRAM production last year and into this year expecting P4 sales to skyrocket, providing platforms for their memory. Intel failed to deliver the sales promised, however, and now the market is glutted with RDRAM memory. There is a lot of fab space that has been changed over to RDRAM production in the last year that is now sitting idle, and OEMs have large stockpiles of RDRAM (which is why they have been begging Intel to stop packaging RDRAM with the CPU.) The current competativeness of RDRAM pricing is a symptom of the market and misallocated fab resources. I don't see it lasting through the end of the year, especially as RDRAM alternative P4 platforms appear.

I wonder exactly how much of RamBus' revenue comes directly from Intel's RDRAM support? If Intel chooses to abandon RDRAM for DDR SDRAM, I wonder if the company will still float?


-= This is our wading pool.
Stop pissing in it. =-
May 11, 2001 7:01:00 PM

"Intel failed to deliver the sales promised"

Not even close to true. They are selling very well. We hit 1 million P4 CPUs sold back in Q1.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 11, 2001 7:05:12 PM

"Now, if any of those questions point to a situation where the actual need for RDRAM is great, then my assertion about RDRAM being a technology that manufactures are loath to accept would be correct."

I do not understand you here. If the need for RDRAM is great, manufacturers are all over it.

"it would seem that RDRAM is going to have an extremely tough time at becoming the standard"

In my opinion, they will become the standard for the next whole generation of processors. However, this is purely speculation, as is most of your post.

-Raystonn

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
May 11, 2001 11:19:07 PM

sojourn -

You said "There is a lot of fab space that has been changed over to RDRAM production in the last year that is now sitting idle, and OEMs have large stockpiles of RDRAM..."

How do you know that?


beans
May 12, 2001 5:00:22 PM

I would think that his speculation comes from a few things. First, Intel hasn't sold as many as they wanted to. Second, there were announcements weeks or months ago from some memory fabs that they were increasing productions. Third, it is safe to say that the current bottom falling out for RDRAM prices is caused not by decreased demand, but a glut of supply.

-SammyBoy

Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 12, 2001 5:30:55 PM

Quote:
"Now, if any of those questions point to a situation where the actual need for RDRAM is great, then my assertion about RDRAM being a technology that manufactures are loath to accept would be correct."

I do not understand you here. If the need for RDRAM is great, manufacturers are all over it.

Well I don't blame you for not understanding that part of my post. I don't understand it either now that I reread it. But, I think that idea of that part was that manufactures were loath to accept that RDRAM had a future, and slow to jump on the bandwagon. I just wanted to point out that even with success of the P4, manufactures seemed to be hesitant to convert some of their lines over to RDRAM production. This is because I think that the RDRAM technology is seen as a stab in the back to the standards committee, developed during a time where Rambus was on that committee when DDRwas being developed. I'm sure that only the largest, most established fab plants and manufactures are able to get away with pushing aside the SDRAM and DDR-RAM and produce RDRAM chips. The standards committee is composed of all the large chip makers (except Rambus) and to produce a competeing product requires a lot of guts, finacial stability, and power by that manufacture.

-SammyBoy

Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 13, 2001 12:55:35 AM

Sam -

You say "...it is safe to say that the current bottom falling out for RDRAM prices is caused not by decreased demand, but a glut of supply."


In the absence of hard evidence of a glut, I'm not sure it's safe to say that. RDRAM prices may be down from previous levels, but they are still not competitive with prices of other technologies.

Rather than "the bottom fell out," from my perspective RDRAM prices dropped from "out of sight" to "out of reach." If I'm a typical customer, that's not going to clear any glut.


beans
May 13, 2001 9:50:27 PM

RDRAM will never be price competetive with the current techonology, as the making of RDRAM is much more intensive and costly. Now, in comparison to the old prices for RDRAM, it is possible to say that the bottom has fallen out, as the prices have dropped a lot, much as the P4 prices have dropped. But, this in not due to decreased demand (it has gone up over the last quarter and a half), so the only safe conclusion is that there has been an increase in supply capabilites, resulting in a glut on inventory.

-SammyBoy

Without Evil, there can be no Good. Therefore, without an Intel, there can be no AMD.
May 14, 2001 5:36:50 AM

Sam -


I think "never" is a rather strong term to use here, even if you're right about the relative complexities. Manufacturing technologies improve all the time, and production cost isn't the only consideration in setting prices anyway.


Regarding what constitutes the "bottom falling out," I think that implies the kind of panic selling you see on Wall Street from time to time, not just any large price drop. But, that's just my opinion. Would you say the bottom has fallen out of P4 prices?


RDRAM production capacity almost certainly is up, I agree. That may account for the price drop, because it generally makes sense for manufacturers to set prices at a level that will sell their production. That does not mean they will wait until there's a glut -- the warehouse fills up with RDRAM -- before making a move, however.

Finally, there could be some long-term strategy at work here that involves neither current production costs nor demand. So, I persist -- absent hard evidence of a glut, it is not at all safe to say that current pricing is the result of oversupply.


beans
Anonymous
a b à CPUs
May 14, 2001 11:13:07 AM

"They are selling very well. We hit 1 million P4 CPUs sold back in Q1."

Just curious.. how many P3's and Celerons did they sell in Q1 ? I have no clue if 1 million is a lot or not..
!