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Rambus marks finish line for new memory

The memory designer and its manufacturing partners say high-speed XDR DRAM memory--formerly known as "Yellowstone"--will ship next year.

Chip designer Rambus and its manufacturing partners said Thursday that their new high-speed memory will hit the market next year.

The XDR DRAM technology (formerly code-named Yellowstone) will transfer data at 3.2GHz initially, rising to 6.4GHz in the future--much faster than memory available now. In effect, that means XDR DRAM, which will be manufactured by partners Toshiba and Elpida, should ultimately be capable of transferring 100GB of data per second.

While XDR DRAM will likely face stiff resistance for acceptance in the PC market, it could find a home in consumer electronics and the communications industry, where memory based on Rambus' designs is used.

One of the early marquee devices to use the memory will likely be the next version of Sony's PlayStation. The Japanese giant has said it will couple XDR DRAM in the games consoles with the forthcoming Cell processor. Cell, a joint project between IBM, Sony and Toshiba, is expected to be used in the PlayStation 3.

Manufacturers Toshiba and Elpida stated that they expect to begin shipping XDR DRAM in 2004, with volume production coming in 2005.

Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus designs chip interfaces, the portals that let chips connect to each other. The company designed RDRAM, a form of computer memory with a high-speed interface. While heavily touted, RDRAM proved to be expensive and unpopular. Even though RDRAM is faster than other types of memory on the market, few PCs come with it. Instead, PC makers and customers have opted for double data rate (DDR) DRAM.

Rambus has also sought to obtain royalties out of a number of high-tech companies through patent claims.