Intel’s 820 Is Late, But on the Horizon

Addressing countless rumors swirling about the industry, Intel Corp. confirmed that it has delayed the release of the 820 chipset. The new chipset was anticipated by those with a desire for high-performance computing because of its 133-MHz system bus.

The 820 chipset is expected to replace the 440BX, which has a 100-MHz system bus. According to Dan Francisco, spokesman for Intel, problems with the 820 were discovered while testing worst-case stress configurations. "We have an extensive validation process that involves Intel and its customers, and in the late phase the platform integration issue and memory errors were uncovered," he says.

The problems occur when all three Rambus Memory Modules (RIMM) on the board are fully populated with Rambus Dynamic RAM (RDRAM). Rambus Inc. ( is the company that developed the RDRAM interface.

"We're working on the cause here, and we're in the process of generating these failures," Francisco explains. "We also don't have a new launch date. I'm sure you can understand when you're working on finding the error it's premature to have a launch date."

One direction Intel is going in is a 2-RIMM configuration. This configuration hasn't been validated, but Francisco says it is possible that the new configuration will provide the same performance that was originally anticipated.

Meanwhile, IT administrators will have to wait to get the chipset. Server vendors Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are in line to pounce on the technology for their servers when it becomes available.

"From an OEM perspective, we're working with our customers to make the movement to RDRAM as smoothly as possible," Francisco says. "Higher performance Pentium III processors will continue to be introduced and be part of the performance segment."