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Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

Rambus Could Reap Millions In Patent Settlements 82

Posted by kdawson
from the what-innovation-looks-like-now dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "Rambus, a designer of semiconductor chips, won a long-running patent battle with NVIDIA, but that dispute is not the only one the company is involved in — and the upcoming decisions could mean millions in additional revenue. Besides the NVIDIA decision, Rambus is involved in a suit with Hynix Semiconductor that will be heard in October. In that case, Hynix had originally sued Rambus in 2000, but Rambus counter-sued. Hynix lost, and appealed. The parties will appear before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in October. A judgment in Rambus's favor would be worth at least $397 million, according to the company's general counsel, Tom Lavelle."
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Rambus Could Reap Millions In Patent Settlements

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  • Re:Rambus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by obeythefist (719316) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @12:00AM (#33053476) Journal

    Those are the guys! It was many years ago. They apparently sat on some big RAM council board, took a bunch of notes, and sprinted to the patent office as soon as the meeting was over. BAM! Patent infringement lawsuits all over the place.

    Unlike other patent trolls, however, they did manage to release a horrible implementation of a quasi-serial memory bus that had atrocious real world performance. And managed to persuade Intel to get in bed with them, which for many was a big reason that AMD was doing so well at the time.

  • Re:Rambus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @12:06AM (#33053510)

    No, no, they got it to work right. It worked four times as fast (at the time) but it cost more than four times as much. And they didn't allow anybody else to produce the chips by refusing to sell license their patent to other manufacturers. And you had to buy in pairs (and have those stupid blanks in unpopulated slots, and who wants to buy those stupid things?). And they didn't reduce the price at all even though the competition began to close the gap in speed and surpassed them in capacity.

    RDRAM failed because it was more expensive due to price fixing monopoly, short in supply due to monopoly, more difficult to use and install, and advanced more slowly than the competition (due to a smaller set of researchers working on improving it). And Intel priced their processors far and above the price of AMD's DDR-only, better-performing competition. RDRAM is a good example of customer demand shaping the market.

  • Re:Rambus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @12:35AM (#33053614)

    Wow, there's a company I haven't heard of in years. Didn't they make some hideously expensive RAM that was supposed to perform twice as well as normal RAM, but never lived up to the hype? Basically, they patented the design, couldn't get it to work right, and now they're suing the companies who did.

    Actually, they're quite big and raking in the dough. They're in one of the best selling consoles, and in this generation's worst-selling console.

    Yes, the PS2 has 32MB of RAMBUS RDRAM in it. It was one of their big announcements after thair failed foray into PCs.

    And yes, there's also 256MB of XDR DRAM in the PS3 (the other 256 is GDDR3 for the nVidia RSX). XDR technology is owned by RAMBUS.

    Despite not selling well in the PC world, they're doing good enough in other markets. Hell, many /.'ers probably own a PS3 and thus have contributed to this patent trolling. Probably some of those complaining about patent trolls in this article too will extol the virtues of the PS3 (or PS2) in other threads without realizing that they're really just helping RAMBUS.

  • Re:The SCO outlook (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lawbeefaroni (246892) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @12:42AM (#33053636) Homepage

    "One of them stuck?" Of the top of my head, Samsung recently (2010) settled with them for something like $200M plus $100/year for 5 years for licensing, plus shares for a grand total of $900M.

    Hate to break the news to you but Rambus isn't going to die. Unless someone like Samsung buys them.

  • Re:Rambus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @01:28AM (#33053746)

    It was only faster for a very short period.

    When DDR came out and was adopted, it had higher throughput than RDRAM. And both SDRAM and DDR had lower latency. So SDRAM actually was higher performing in many cases and DDR was in all cases.

    In no time, you had to buy the fastest (most expensive) RDRAM 800 and in pairs in order to come even close to matching DDR on performance.

    A bank of RDRAM 800 had 1600MB/sec bandwidth, while a single bank of 133MHz (DDR-266) had 2166MB/sec bandwidth. A single bank of PC-133 SDRAM had 1066MB/sec bandwidth and much lower latency. Most RDRAM systems (before the very end) had RDRAM 600 in them, for a bandwidth of 1200MB/sec.

    RDRAM's advantage the whole time was the ability to put in a lot more RAM than with DDR because since each DIMM regenerated the signal before passing it on, you could daisy chain RAM as far away as you'd like, unlike where with SDRAM or DDR the total bus length was limited by the capacitance placed on by all the DIMMs on the bus.

    In essence, RDRAM had the same advantages and disadvantages of FB-DIMMs, which was also driven out of the market by cheaper and faster DDR3.

  • Octopi/octopuses (Score:2, Informative)

    by tebee (1280900) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @01:55AM (#33053772)
    No he doesn't, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk [youtube.com] - and as an added bonus you get a very nice piece of thinking man's crumpet as well.
  • Re:Rambus... (Score:5, Informative)

    by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @02:26AM (#33053828)

    It worked four times as fast (at the time) but it cost more than four times as much.

    Only in bandwidth. Latency sucked big time, and processors back then weren't very good at hiding latency, so real-world non-benchmark performance wasn't any better than decent SDRAM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @02:42AM (#33053862)

    Actually Rambus is doing research and making test devices as well as ASICs on behalf of other companies.
    Very much like ARM and IBM.

    Rambus has a 2:1 lawyer to engineer ratio (they did 2-3 years ago), which skews them towards patent troll ;)

  • Not quite (Score:4, Informative)

    by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @08:10AM (#33054840) Homepage Journal

    Those are the guys! It was many years ago. They apparently sat on some big RAM council board, took a bunch of notes, and sprinted to the patent office as soon as the meeting was over. BAM! Patent infringement lawsuits all over the place.

    Not quite... It was more like the council had a non-disclosure agreement, and Rambus showed them what they were working on, after which a couple of the other manufacturers turned around and blatantly copied the inventions. Unfortunately for them, the patents in question had been filed long before.
    Which is why Rambus has been awarded compensation in several judgments.

    While Rambus certainly has bad sides and skeletons in the closet (they're a corporation after all), it's not correct to call them a patent troll.

    And their RDRAM failed for two major reasons: Price and Samsung
    The price was MUCH higher, especially for 32-bit RDRAM. Yes, it was faster, but the benefits were not that high. Add that Samsung, the sole producer of 32-bit RDRAM, couldn't deliver in a timely manner, and the customers had a choice between buying a more expensive RDRAM motherboard with very expensive RDRAM that they would have to wait weeks for, or a marginally slower DDR motherboard with very cheap RAM that they could get straight away. Still, RDRAM found its way into many servers.
    But RDRAM existed, and it was faster (if comparing apples to apples) -- it wasn't a patent troll, but patented technology they had actually made into products.

    People (even here) were slamming Rambus because they wanted cheap, and if Rambus won, DDR2 prices were likely to go way up.

  • by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @08:30AM (#33054944) Journal

    Where do I go for sexual harassment. I'm not getting any,

    Prison.

  • Re:Rambus... (Score:4, Informative)

    by stevew (4845) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @10:38AM (#33056306) Journal

    You guys have the story slightly wrong - they didn't just take notes. They revealed technology that they got everyone else to agree to put into the standards THEN announced patents on same.

    It's a slight difference - but makes them even nastier.

  • Re:Octopi/octopuses (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dishevel (1105119) on Wednesday July 28, 2010 @11:20AM (#33056808)
    Semi cute I would give you. Cute I MIGHT give you. Though really cute I have to say I must callout as bullshit.

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