PM Forum - Q3/2003: Part 1

by Andrew Ku on September 16, 2003 11:36 PM EST

1. RDRAM’s applications have died down in the mainstream market due to the lack of support. SiS is the only chipset maker with plans to support RDRAM, with its dual channel SiS658 and quad channel SiS659. Does your company currently plan on supporting...

  1. SiS658 [dual channel RDRAM]?

  1. SiS658 [dual channel RDRAM]?

PM #1: Although RDRAM has, in the past, been shown to be of better performance in many applications when tested against DDR technology, RDRAM support among the industry vendors has been all but eliminated, making RDRAM the technological pariah for the channel, going forward.

PM #2:

SiS659 success will depend on:
  • significant RDRAM performance over DDR400
  • RDRAM price at least 1.2 times of DDR400
  • availability of RDRAM to end user. If companies are able to bundle 256MB RIMM with mainboard, it will be more successful.
  • PM #3: Based on the market status and technology trend, we believe RDRAM might be phased out from PC market down the road. RDRAM will still exist in some niche market, such as the gaming console. But for the PC market, we think DDR memory will be the mainstream choice.

    PM #4: Lack of market demands for RDRAM platforms and SiS platforms make them not suit for this segment (high end level).

    PM #5: ... RDRAM seems to be dying out, even Intel gave it up.

    PM #6: ... the key success factor is the total cost of ownership and the performance they get. We still think the RDRAM market is cold as ice, because the trend of memory has come to DDR/ DDRII. If, possibly, the RDRAM can go to the market, it only should be fit for the very niche market, i.e. very small quantity.

    PM #7: Everyone knew that RAM bus is a good solution for high-end desktop PCs, but RDRAM has lost the chance to become the mainstream product.

    Much of what is already know about the RDRAM situation is just reiterated by our responses, as 85% of product managers report no future plans for the SiS658 and 77% reported no plans for the SiS659 chipset. One of the product managers indicated that they were still watching, and therefore couldn’t give a “yes” or “no” response.

    At the moment, SiS is the only significant chipset maker that has included RDRAM support in their future roadmap with their SiS658 and SiS659 chipsets, which support dual channel and quad channel respectively. Preliminary reports from manufacturers stipulate that both chipsets have memory timing issues specifically that they aren’t able to achieve the advertised memory bandwidth. However, only the proliferation of motherboards based on these two chipsets will reveal if SiS has fixed all the preliminary issues.

    Since these two chipsets are supposed to be marketed towards the high-end market, they will indeed need to offer higher performance than DDR based systems. DDR is still more cost effective, and if RDRAM cannot achieve a performance lead over DDR, we will be on hand to see a very fast remission of RDRAM. As it stands, there are basically two reasons to choose RDRAM, compatibility and performance. On the compatibility side, those that incorporate the RDRAM memory interface into their designs will not have much of a choice for memory solutions, reluctantly or not. If a transition is to be made, the entire design or at least parts of it will need to be reworked, and depending on the timeframe, the switch from RDRAM to another memory solution could prove to not be cost effective. In strictly performance considerations, RDRAM can come and go easily, as preference is given to the latest and greatest. Simply put if performance is not adequate against DDR (including DDRII) solutions, RDRAM will be tossed to the curb very fast. The supply and cost issue will only accentuate the process if performance cannot be achieved. One thing is for sure, “RDRAM has lost the chance to become the mainstream product,” as on product manager put it. A less generous outlook for RDRAM was given by PM #6, who stated, “We still think the RDRAM market is cold as ice...

    We continued to follow up by asking more of a market perception question, “If yes for either, do you think SiS can be successful with RDRAM in the entry level workstation and high-end desktop market where they have just started to gain name recognition because of the SiS648 and SiS655?”

    PM #1: Yes, due to price stability of RDRAM, which is an important factor for the workstation market. High performance is also a major requirement.

    PM #2: No, how many end users are aware of Serverwork as a leading server chipset supplier?

    PM #3: SiS is the first 3rd party Intel platform chipset manufacturer. Even though, the SiS brand been associated with the “value PC segment” for a while, we do believe the reputation of SiS products is getting better and better.

    As it is, RDRAM doesn’t seem to have the good image that it is trying to reclaim. SiS is new to the entry level workstation and the high-end desktop market with their SiS648 chipset, and moving to fast with a shaky chipset may hinder their image development for this market in the future; should they fail. Though, we should note that SiS’ market perception has been gaining better momentum and credibility with the SiS648 and SiS655 and that SiS indeed has the ability to over come the “value segment” stereotype that they have been often associated with. What happens next will greatly depend on the type of products they plan to push forward with.

    Index High-end integrated graphics?
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    • Anonymous User - Monday, September 22, 2003 - link

      I'm not sure I understand the obsession with top-of-the-line 3D graphics performance on entry level workstations. Are you telling me that the majority of workstations are sold to game developers or something? What about the significantly large IC design market? What about embedded software development? Granted, Sun Workstations have traditionally ruled this space but x86 is gaining a serious foothold when considering both W2k/XP and Linux. I could not possibly care less about my workstation's fps benchmark in Half Life 2 or whatever the latest 'ultimate' gaming graphics engine benchmark happens to be. I want a machine that crunches numbers like you've never seen, renders the screen perfectly (no buggy drivers! grrr) and doesn't require me to sell my car to pay for it. I have a hard time seeing any engineering workstation other than those used for gaming development or other highly graphics specific niche markets needing state of the art 3D performance. Please enlighten me if I'm hopelessly misinformed.

      High-End Desktops, though, are a completely different story. That's gamer land, and I don't think we'll ever see integration work well there because of that segment's demand for flexibility, scalability, and top-notch 3D graphics.

      IMHO, it doesn't make much sense to lump High-End Desktops and Workstations into the same pile. They have very different target markets with very different requirements. From the processor standpoint, perhaps, but not from an overall system feature and performance perspective.
    • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 18, 2003 - link

      What a dumb comment, pie chart colors?
    • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - link

      The lack of consistency in assignment of colours in the pie charts is confusing.

      In chart #1 No is Red.
      In chart #2 No is Green, and yes is Red.

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