Toshiba Hedges Its Bets on Next-Generation DRAM

STOCKHOLM (07/18/2000) - Fresh off a surprise, broad-ranging licensing deal with Rambus Inc., Toshiba Corp. announced Monday that it is sampling three different flavors of next-generation 256M-bit memory chips. Only one of the three versions, however, is based on Rambus' proprietary high-speed memory interface technology.

Tokyo-based Toshiba said that, in addition to Direct Rambus DRAM (dynamic random access memory), the 256M-bit chips are also available in a competing DDR (double data rate) Synchronous DRAM version, as well as a third iteration called DDR FC (fast cycle) RAM, based on technology the company has developed jointly with Fujitsu Ltd.

Toshiba said all three flavors will be suitable for use as main and buffer memory in workstations, servers and other large computers to speed up image-processing and network applications. Sample quantities are available now, with volume production using 0.175 micron process technology scheduled for the fourth quarter.

The move comes in the aftermath of Toshiba's surprise announcement in June that it had agreed to pay royalties to Mountain View, California-based Rambus for all of its SDRAM chips, including existing SDR (single data rate) versions, as well as the emerging DDR SDRAM and DDR FCRAM chips.

At the time, Rambus said the royalties it is collecting for Toshiba's other memory chips are greater than for those based on its proprietary technology.

[See "Toshiba, Rambus Sign SDRAM Licensing Deal," June 16.]Nevertheless, Toshiba said in a statement that samples of the 256M-bit DDR SDRAM chips are available now for US$120 each, while same-density RDRAM samples are priced at $150.

The 256M-bit DDR FCRAM chips, however, are sampling at an even higher price, at $200 each, Toshiba said.

The DDR FCRAM chips are able to achieve fast random access cycle time of 30 nanoseconds, a level similar to the pricier Static RAM chips used for cache memory in computers, while consuming 30 percent less power than conventional DRAMs, Toshiba said.

Toshiba, in Tokyo, can be reached via the Web at http://www.toshiba.co.jp/.

Rambus, in Mountain View, California, is at +1-650-944-8000 or at http://www.rambus.com/.

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