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By | Tony Smith 1st August 2005 14:19

Intel to build DRAM units into desktop, mobile CPUs?

Researcher's numbers suggest as much

Intel is to follow AMD's lead an integrate memory controllers into its microprocessors, market watcher In-Stat has forecast. By 2009, it reckons, 70 per cent of all x86 processors shipping will have their own memory controller, it said.

Right now, the number's under 20 per cent, each one an AMD chip. Indeed, that figure roughly matches AMD's market share. It's possible to see AMD increasing its market share considerably, but not to the extent that Athlon, Opteron and Sempron processors will command 70 per cent of the x86 market.

More likely, then, that Intel will get in on the act. It's already known to be moving in that direction. Specifically, it's believed to be planning to equip future Xeon and Itanium processors with memory controllers, the better to enable a single chipset platform that can cope with both families of processors.

Xeon alone isn't going to yield that 70 per cent figure - or whatever percentage below it that isn't AMD's share - alone. The conclusion: Intel will offer desktop and mobile processors with integrated memory controllers. It's got until 2009 to do so - by In-Stat's reckoning - so they don't necessarily have to be 'Merom' and 'Conroe' generation mobile and desktop parts, but they have to be likely candidates.

In-Stat's forecast comes in a look at the chipset market between now and 2009, at which point the segment will be worth $10.3bn, from $6.9bn today.

The researcher forecasts a contraction in the Intel side of the market as the chip giant pursues its 'platforms not processors' strategy, while the AMD chipset 'ecosystem' will grow. Of course, a varied ecosystem doesn't necessarily mean that it's a financially attractive one - for that the market needs to grow, and we're back to pondering AMD's future market share.

However, it will be a busy market, In-Stat believes, as vendors move to support multi-core processors, faster frontside bus architectures, new peripheral interfaces and upcoming features like virtualisation and trusted computing. ®

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