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Intel Expected to Delay Camino Roll-Out Once Again.

Intel Corp won't be ready to ship new generation PCs with Rambus memory today (Monday), due to last minute technical difficulties with the 820 "Camino" chipset, it emerged on Friday. Already delayed from June of this year, shipments of Camino appear to have been put back until the end of October. Intel normally likes to have systems shipping at or very close to the time of the launch, and planned to do so this time. The late-stage hold-up could mean that PC makers who had built systems ready will now be forced to re-engineer their completed PCs before they can ship.

Intel still plans to make announcements today, and is likely to go ahead with its planned launch of the 810e chipset and faster Pentium III chips. Insiders at the company also told ComputerWire that they would clarify the current status and likely availability of the 820 chipset. The delay is further bad news for Rambus Inc, which is relying on the 820 chip in order that products based on its RDRAM memory design can ship in PCs.

Even before news of the new delay broke, analysts were predicting that no significant Rambus shipments were likely until the first quarter of next year. High memory prices and the emergence of cheaper and faster alternative SDRAM products have already dampened the enthusiasm of PC makers for the new architecture. Nevertheless, Hewlett-Packard Co announced in advance last Monday that its new line of Vectra VL600 corporate PCs would incorporate Rambus memory. It said it would offer a choice of either Rambus or SDRAM in its new Kayak PC workstations, and said it planned to ship both products next month. Compaq Computer Corp, Dell Computer Corp and IBM Corp were also preparing to announce desktop systems using Rambus memory.

Intel won't talk specifically about the difficulties with the technology until Monday. But the problem is thought to lie with the motherboard designs, which include three RIMM slots for memory. A RIMM is a module containing one or several Rambus DRAM chips on a small circuit board with pins that connect to the PC motherboard. Most Rambus OEMs are using only one or two slots to leave room for future expansion. But the third slot, whether full or empty, has been found to behave unreliably. Intel is thought to have now told OEMS to use only two slots. That would mean full re-designs of existing motherboards, a task that would take OEMs at least a month. Two slot designs might also restrict the memory capacity of Rambus systems, which would further reduce an advantage of moving over to the new architecture.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 27, 1999
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