Abandoned PC Tech: RDRAM

RDRAM: Developed in the mid-1990s by Rambus, RDRAM was faster than the then standard SDRAM technology used across both Apple- and Windows-based PCs. Whereas the fastest SDRAM chips were clock rated at 133 MHz, RDRAM ran at 400 MHz. As RDRAM utilized a double data rate (DDR) bus, its clock speed was effectively 800 MHz. Fortunately for us all, RDRAM lost the war against the slighter newer DDR-SDRAM and was last seen in the Sony PlayStation 3. But why did RDRAM fail?

Well,

  • For the vast majority of what a PC is used for, RDRAM was slower than even SDRAM.
  • Its latency, the delay in data transmission, was a lot higher than any other RAM technology.
  • It cost a lot more than either SDRAM or DDR-SDRAM.
  • It ran a lot hotter than other types of RAM, necessitating heat spreaders.
  • It was more expensive to manufacture.
  • A limited number of manufacturers necessarily limits volume, increases price, and antagonizes industry players.
  • High licensing fees, that typically herald the doom of a technology.
  • It was a proprietary design that the other industry giants chaffed against.
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