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Intel strikes out with Rambus summit

The chip giant fails to win new commitments from memory chipmakers to lower prices or increase production of Rambus-based memory.

    Intel failed this week to win new commitments from memory chipmakers to lower prices or increase production of Rambus-based memory, according to an executive at one of the memory companies.

    As previously reported, Intel met Wednesday in Arizona with memory chipmakers to discuss the status of the controversial high-speed memory technology. Intel confirmed yesterday that a meeting took place but declined to comment on the discussions.

    Intel has been a big proponent of the new memory, which uses a high-speed interface licensed to the memory makers by Mountain View, Calif.-based Rambus. However, others in the industry have complained about the cost and difficulty of implementing the technology, touting more evolutionary improvements such as Double Data Rate (DDR) memory.

    According to the executive, Intel was looking for memory chipmakers to cut their prices on Rambus memory, which has been selling for up to three times the cost of traditional memory.

    But memory makers say they are charging what they need to make a profit.

    "The cost structure is too high, and as a result we have to sell it at high prices," the executive said.

    The prices have made PC makers reluctant to adopt Rambus beyond high-end systems.

    "It's a chicken-and-egg problem," Intel spokesman Howard High said recently. Intel is in a somewhat awkward position, since it controls neither the memory suppliers nor the PC makers.