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Chipmaker SiS extends its Rambus ties

Silicon Integrated Systems may be close to launching a new chipset for Pentium 4 PCs using Rambus memory. But after about a year on the market, RDRAM is still not well loved.

Chipmaker Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) may be close to launching a new chipset for Pentium 4 PCs using Rambus memory.

The chipset maker announced Monday that it has expanded an existing licensing agreement with Rambus to include RDRAM--dynamic random access memory based on Rambus designs. The new agreement opens the door to SiS using Rambus memory in future products in the PC, networking and communications markets, the company said.

As previously reported by CNET News.com, Taiwan-based SiS has been negotiating a deal to offer the chipset for some time.

"As a leading chipset supplier in Taiwan, SiS is poised to offer the broadest range of performance system solutions to our customers by offering RDRAM-compatible products," said Shing Wong, a senior vice president at SiS.

But even after about a year on the market, RDRAM is still not well loved. Intel is the only company to manufacture an RDRAM chipset for PCs, its 850.

Although RDRAM offered higher bandwidth than standard SDRAM at the outset, its initial delays and higher cost have limited its adoption.

Since the Pentium 4's November 2000 launch, RDRAM prices have fallen, so that an RDRAM PC is priced within about $100 of one with SDRAM. Analysts argue that a new RDRAM-Pentium 4 chipset could help reduce prices further, making the two offerings more equal.

But analysts also say that the vast majority of Pentium 4 PCs sold continue to use Intel's 845 chipset, which pairs the Pentium 4 with SDRAM. An update to the 845, due early next year, will allow it to adopt faster double data rate SDRAM and is likely to increase its popularity.

SiS also offers chipsets for Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon and Duron processors, Intel's Pentium III and Celeron chips, and one that pairs the Pentium 4 with SDRAM.

Acer Labs and ATI Technologies also have licenses to offer Pentium 4 chipsets. The two are expected to offer SDRAM chipsets.