EETimes heeft wat nieuws over de switch van SDRAM naar DRDRAMs die dit jaar zal plaatsvinden:
Memory makers are struggling with decisions on how much back-end equipment to purchase to support Direct Rambus DRAMs later this year. Their decisions are complicated by uncertainty over demand for the new memory and how much of a premium customers will pay for it.
Bullish analysts predict about 250 million units of the Direct RDRAMs will ship in 1999. Intel Corp. will ship prototypes of its Camino chip set with support for Direct RDRAMs this quarter, and major PC OEMs are expected to ship systems with a 0.18-micron Katmai processor, Camino and Direct RDRAMs by the third quarter. But the ramp of the Direct RDRAM remains a big unknown.
NEC is trying to decide how many testers and other back-end equipment must be ordered now to meet Direct RDRAM demand. NEC has more experience manufacturing RDRAMs than any other vendor by virtue of its supply relationship with Nintendo Ltd. (Kyoto, Japan), which used the 18-Mbit RDRAM in its Nintendo 64 game machine. "We have shipped tons of Rambus memories to Nintendo," said Hirokazu Hashimoto, president of NEC Electronics Inc.
"From the silicon point of view, changing from SDRAM to the Direct RDRAM is not so difficult," said Hashimoto. "But a lot of testers are needed. One estimate is that an investment at the back end of about $8 million to $10 million is needed to produce 1 million units of Direct RDRAM. If you assume that the industry will have enough 0.25-micron capacity at the front end, the question is whether the industry will invest the $2.5 billion or so needed to support the 250-million-unit Direct RDRAM scenario."
Japanese companies will need to invest to keep up with the production of Micron Technology, Samsung Electronics and the combined chip operations of Hyundai-LG Semicon. But Hashimoto noted that "Japanese companies are in a very, very tight financial situation this year" because of continuing problems in Japan's domestic economy. He declined to speculate on whether NEC would increase its semiconductor-related capital expenditures, but said that the head of NEC's electronic devices operation, Hajime Sasaki, has stated that NEC wants to retain a 10 to 15 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market. NEC held 11 percent of the market last year, Hashimoto said.