Last week, we offered a sort of "re-introduction" to Rambus DRAM, a very controversial and often hated technology. Before diving into Part 2 of our investigation on this technology, let's quickly recap what the original article was intended to convey about Rambus and their Direct RDRAM technology:
1) More memory bandwidth is necessary in order for the systems of tomorrow to be able to perform at their full potential.
2) Direct RDRAM offers more bandwidth than any currently available competing memory technology; unfortunately, it is at a price point that is unrealistic for most users.
3) There is a definite need for a lower pin count regarding our memory devices. If a solution with a lower pin count isn't sought out, motherboards will begin to grow in terms of price.
4) Both AMD and Intel currently hold licenses to Rambus' interface technology, although as of now, only Intel is advocating moving to the standard.
5) While Intel has a vested interest in Rambus succeeding, they do not own the company. Part of Intel's "interest" in Rambus happens to be that they are given attractive stock options in the company.
6) The yields on RDRAM are not as low as they are rumored to have been. If the yields were truly in the 10 – 20% range, then Toshiba would have been forced to produce at least 20 million PC800 RDRAM chips in order to fill Sony's order for 4 million PC800 RDRAM chips for use with the initial batch of Playstation 2 systems. That's just not realistic.
But perhaps the most important point and most commonly overlooked point of our original article on RDRAM was the following:
7) Direct RDRAM is not a solution for today's desktop, workstation or server computers; DDR SDRAM offers a much more realistic price point while addressing the issue of increasing memory bandwidth. If you didn't get this out of the original article, please take a look at the summary on Page 11.
In spite of the seven covered points that we brought up in the initial article, there was a lack of something you've all become used to seeing (sometimes in excruciatingly large quantities ;)…) at AnandTech: benchmarks.
A sort of rule of thumb we've always kept around AnandTech is that real world performance should always be the final judge when it comes to recommending or denouncing a particular product. For those of you that took Part 1 of our Rambus DRAM investigation to be a recommendation for RDRAM or denunciation for DDR SDRAM, that was not the intent of the article. Rather, it was intended to establish the basis for the argument that there is a need for a higher bandwidth memory solution and that RDRAM is capable of filling that role in the future.
But now comes the time to evaluate whether or not there is a tangible use for RDRAM in the future and to reiterate the fact that RDRAM is currently not a viable option for consumers as it is easily outweighed by technology that has been around in systems for a much longer time.