Samsung Electronics Ltd, the international market leader for Rambus memory chips, has halted production of its second-generation RDRAM chips in reaction to Intel’s last minute decision to delay the release of its 820 Camino chipset. Just two weeks ago Samsung announced it had gone into mass production of the high-speed DRAMS to coincide with the […]
Samsung Electronics Ltd, the international market leader for Rambus memory chips, has halted production of its second-generation RDRAM chips in reaction to Intel’s last minute decision to delay the release of its 820 Camino chipset. Just two weeks ago Samsung announced it had gone into mass production of the high-speed DRAMS to coincide with the Camino launch in a bid to lead the next-generation market. Designed to link direct Rambus memory chips with a microprocessor, the Camino had been seen as the critical last link needed to deploy RDRAM-based PCs and numerous OEM makers and motherboard manufacturers had geared up for the launch.
Samsung Electronics is at least six months ahead of other DRAM manufacturers in completing development of the second-generation RDRAM. Being the first to mass-produce the device for supply to PC manufacturers, the company expects to capture at least 60% of the world market for the high-speed devices, a company statement said at the time. Company officials predict sales to reach $250m this year, while Samsung virtually has the market to itself, and to be worth $2bn to $3bn next year, when the company should have a share of around 35% of the international market, they said.
It had started shipping 144Mb and 128Mb RDRAM components and modules to PC manufacturers planning a launch this week of new models based on the Camino chipset. Hewlett Packard had even gone so far as to demonstrate its new PC with Rambus to reporters and analysts last week before Intel announced it had discovered bugs in the Camino and so would have to indefinitely delay the launch.
Because Intel is unable to give a time-frame for fixing the problem, Samsung is also unable to say when, or even if, it will restart Rambus chip production. Until the problem is fully understood, any fix is pure conjecture. We think that a quarter delay is realistic, and a six-month delay is not out of the realm of possibility, said an industry analyst. Other analysts believe the delay could also help give double-data-rate (DDR) SDRAMs a stronger chance at becoming a mainstream alternative for high-end PCs sold next year. With what now seems to be an uncertain future for RDRAM sales, and rising market prices for SDRAM products, Samsung is looking to shift its production to SDRAM where possible.
There will be no more wafer starts for RDRAM until we can better understand how long it will take to resolve the Camino situation, said Avo Kanadjian, vice president for memory marketing at Samsung Semiconductor’s California operations. Any capacity that can be freed up will be reassigned to 128MB or 256MB SDRAM products. We will require some convincing before we restart any RDRAM production.
Although RDRAM and SDRAM technologies use different mask sets and shifting production is a major task, Samsung’s Fab 9 was designed to manufacture either type of memory, Kanadjian said. Thus, by shifting to SDRAM, it could produce an extra million of this type of chip by the end of the year, he said.