Los Altos (CA) - More bad news for Nvidia. Following faulty chips that shaved a third off the company’s market capitalization, the company is now being sued by Rambus for the alleged infringement of 17 patents.
Somehow we are not surprised to see Rambus back in court. There are sarcastic voices in Silicon Valley who claim you are not considered a real hardware company if you haven’t been sued by Rambus at least once. Rambus claims that "a number of Nvidia products" with memory controllers for SDR, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, GDDR, and GDDR3 SDRAM infringe 17 Rambus patents.
Rambus seeks "injunctive relief barring the infringement, contributory infringement, and inducement to infringe the Rambus patents, as well as monetary damages". In plain English: Money.
"For more than six years, we have diligently attempted to negotiate a licensing agreement with Nvidia, but our good faith efforts have been to no avail," said Tom Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus. "Graphics and multimedia products require leading-edge memory performance, and as Nvidia advances its product portfolio, it infringes more and more of our patents. We are left with no other recourse than litigation to protect and seek fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions. Nevertheless, we hope to continue discussions with Nvidia to reach a negotiated settlement."
Earlier this year, AMD settled with Rambus and is now paying royalties. Nvidia decided to do the opposite and head down to court.
Rambus has great technology on hand as well as a number of smart engineers on staff and we do understand that the company needs to protect its intellectual property. Rambus is still struggling to get its XDR memory technology established beyond the Playstation 3 and there was chatter that future graphics chips may use XDR.
Nvidia clearly may be discouraged using Rambus technology in the future and we are wondering whether Nvidia will now be pushing GDDR5 memory for the rumored Playstation 4 concept - instead of XDR2 DRAM?
It is too early to tell how the case between Rambus and Nvidia will develop, but common sense suggests that suing your customers isn’t always a good idea.