For the second time this year Bert McComas, founder and principal analyst of InQuest Market Research, hosted the Platform Conference 2000 at the Silicon Valley Conference Center in San Jose, California. Again, McComas and his team had put together an informative and interesting agenda covering the latest developments in the memory, motherboard and processor markets.
According to Sherry Garber and Bob Merritt from Semico Research Corp. the DRAM market has arrived at a new inflection point. The classic DRAM migration model - memory developed for mainframes slowly making its way down to the PC - does not apply anymore. Now different types of DRAM (FPM/EDO, SDRAM, DDR SDRAM, RDRAM) are targeted at different market sectors, and each sector has different demands. While the mainframes, servers and workstations still drive the highest memory density, cost is a secondary issue. The desktop PC market on the other hand, is very cost-sensitive, and for notebooks memory should not only be as inexpensive as possible, but also consume very little power. And then there are of course also the non-computer segments like the communications industry and consumer electronics.
Especially in the consumer electronics market cost per megabit is critical, which kind of makes me wonder why Sony's chose Rambus DRAM for the Playstation. But then different laws of economics apply for the Playstation. While other consumer electronics vendors must make money selling the hardware, Sony can afford to work with very small profit margins for the hardware, because the real money is in the software, i.e. the games for the Playstation.