Intel is to launch a chipset next year for Pentium 4, which will work with standard memory, raising questions about the future survival of expensive Rambus-based memory.
The chipset, (a set of chips connecting the processor with the rest of the motherboard) will enable PC manufacturers to build Pentium 4-based processors that incorporate ordinary SDRAM memory running at 133 MHz.
The processor giant is also looking at ways the new chipset could be tweaked to allow PC vendors to adopt DDR DRAM, which runs at twice the speed of SDRAM.
Industry watchers believe the announcement could sound the death knell for Rambus-based memory.
Until now Intel had planned to force the industry in a Rambus direction by making Pentium 4 chipsets exclusively compatible with the troubled memory standard.
Rambus currently costs three times as much as conventional memory, persuading memory makers to cut back on production. It is also easier to convert production plants from SDRAM to DDR DRAM, than it is to Rambus.