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DDR For Pentium III - VIA's Apollo Pro 266 Chipset

Intel Preferred RDRAM

The story is a bit different for Intel processors. First of all Intel doesn't offer any DDR-chipset for any of its processors at all yet. Instead, it started betting on Rambus' RDRAM more than a year ago. At first Intel had a lot of problems implementing RDRAM in its chipsets. In November 1999 there was the Camino-Gate story, later joined by the MTH-debacle and the drop of Timna. Regardless of those mishaps and failures however, the expensive RDRAM had never been able to show any performance benefit with Intel's Pentium III processors, which was why most reviewers, including us, considered RDRAM as a major failure. The questionable policy of Rambus Inc. was another good reason to dislike this 'IP'-company and its RDRAM memory.

Things changed when Intel finally launched its Pentium 4 processor a couple of months ago. This microprocessor was tuned for two things, extremely high clock speed and high memory bandwidth. While Pentium 4's behavior in today's benchmarks is rather flaky and unable to convince the experienced ones of us of its claimed superiority, Pentium 4 was finally the first processor that was really able to benefit from high bandwidth memory such as the RDRAM P4-systems come equipped with. In fact, Pentium 4's anyhow questionable performance in today's applications suffers badly once its memory bandwidth decreases.

The above graph taken out of the initial Pentium 4 article shows quite clearly how badly Pentium 4 suffers once it's equipped with PC600 RDRAM, the memory found in the typical Pentium 4 system from Dell or HP today. Office or 3D-gaming performance drops some 3-8%.

Intel's And Rambus Cover-Up Strategy Continues With Pentium 4

The situation with Pentium 4 finally reveals Intel's and Rambus master plan behind the forced, painful and obviously pointless introduction of RDRAM in 1999. Intel was fully aware of the fact that Pentium III wasn't able to benefit from RDRAM one bit, but it wanted to make sure that RDRAM is available in the market once Pentium 4 gets introduced, because this processor would give awful performance results with single data rate SDRAM. At the same time, Intel has still not committed to DDR-memory and some people concluded that this was because only RDRAM could satisfy Pentium 4's craving for memory bandwidth. It is a matter of fact that WE DON'T KNOW that. Due to Pentium 4's memory bandwidth dependency, it might be THE microprocessor to show the virtues of DDR-memory, but if Intel would offer Pentium 4 with DDR-memory now it would easily outsell P4-systems with RDRAM (simply because of price), thus jeopardizing Intel's sweet little deal with Rambus Inc. Therefore, instead of cheering for Rambus' rebirth, I would suggest to remain as suspicious as possible. Again I ask 'who would trust Rambus ?' Why is Intel deliberately delaying a DDR-platform for Pentium 4 until the third or maybe even fourth quarter of 2001?