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Rambus Loses 7-year Patent Battle Against Micron, Hynix

By - Source: WSJ | B 48 comments

Rambus suffered a painful loss in court against Micron and Hynix.

Rambus filed an antitrust lawsuit against several DRAM manufacturers back in 2004, alleging that the companies colluded against Rambus to shoot down the company's RDRAM memory technology.

Back in the late 1990s, RDRAM was the memory technology favored by Intel for its Pentium III and 4 processors. Intel heavily promoted RDRAM and even invested $300 million in Samsung's memory manufacturing to ramp up RDRAM production and bring manufacturing prices of the technology down. However, few memory manufacturers supported RDRAM due to no demand and high production prices that were substantially higher than the PC133 and PC266 modules.

Rambus accused memory manufacturers of price fixing to prevent a success of RDRAM, but a jury now determined that Rambus did not "meet its burden of proving its case against the two defendants." Micron saw it a bit differently and said that the jury simply cleared the company of "any and all liability" as the company "acted in accordance with the law and consistent with its values of innovation and fair competition in the marketplace."

It was a big blow for Rambus that wiped hopes for a $4 billion judgment in favor of Rambus; investors reacted in a panic. Rambus stock dropped from about $18.50 to $4.63 in the hours following the announcement. Shares recovered slightly and have been trading at about $8.75 on Thursday, but the judgment still wiped about $900 million from Rambus' market cap.

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Top Comments
  • 32 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2011 12:42 AM
    patent trolling Rambus loses? about time.
  • 25 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 18, 2011 12:50 AM
    moose caboosepatent trolling Rambus loses? about time.

    hopefully we will see some corrective action for the biggest patent troll, Apple.
  • 20 Hide
    opmopadop , November 18, 2011 12:49 AM
    Let that be a lesson for anyone out there that wants to release a memory module that performs ever so slightly better than the competition for 3 times the price.
Other Comments
    Display all 48 comments.
  • 32 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2011 12:42 AM
    patent trolling Rambus loses? about time.
  • 14 Hide
    boju , November 18, 2011 12:47 AM
    AAAYYYEEEAAA karate chop!! take that Rambus
  • 20 Hide
    opmopadop , November 18, 2011 12:49 AM
    Let that be a lesson for anyone out there that wants to release a memory module that performs ever so slightly better than the competition for 3 times the price.
  • 25 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , November 18, 2011 12:50 AM
    moose caboosepatent trolling Rambus loses? about time.

    hopefully we will see some corrective action for the biggest patent troll, Apple.
  • 14 Hide
    tacoslave , November 18, 2011 12:56 AM
    iam2thecroweand amd are using this for their new vid cards............ AMD is making a lot of bad moves lately.

    If the 7970 is priced about the same at launch (~$400) then i wouldn't call it a bad move as supposedly this type of memory increases bandwidth by 50% over gddr5 and consumes 30% less power. So if these things hold true we might see rambus coming back into relevence in the memory sector.
  • 17 Hide
    sykozis , November 18, 2011 1:03 AM
    Exactly what Pentium3 compatible motherboards supported RDRAM??? The only boards I've ever seen support it were all for Pentium4 processors....

    iam2thecroweand amd are using this for their new vid cards............ AMD is making a lot of bad moves lately.

    Rumors say AMD is using XDR....not RDRAM....
  • 8 Hide
    shqtth , November 18, 2011 1:13 AM
    RDRAM was crazy price. And the ram companies did nothing to lower costs. the technology was not a prioity compared to other technoligies. Due to the high price, intel was forced to move to PC133/DDR.

    So I can see why RAMBUS would be pissed.

    THere is no reason RDRAM was so expensive to buy. RAM companies just didn't give a crap and didn't care to manufacture enough to reduce costs. If you think about it, they had Itel pushing the technology. ANd if Intel cannot push the technology then you know something is wrong.

    They had a good opportunity, and wind was taken from their sails.

    RAMBUS turned evil after this.
  • 6 Hide
    shqtth , November 18, 2011 1:20 AM
    It wouldn't of been bad if RDRAM took off when it did, then prices for faster DDR would of been cheaper. I remember DDR being limited to 400, and there was special grade OCZ stuff. Well if RDAM took off, I am sure ram would of been DDR500/DDR600, and DDR2 would of been pushed faster. It was not until DDR3 that ram speeds starting to go crazy, meanwhile crappy ram at slower speeds was still being pushed. RAM speeds did need a kick in the ass back then
  • 4 Hide
    felix666 , November 18, 2011 1:37 AM
    Do the oldest ones remember Cirrus Logic doing graphics chips? They were hot back in 1994. At about the same time as Intel and the P3, they released a new line of graphics chips with integrated 3D processor, using Rambus ram instead of the then-hot EDO ram. The chip was a total flop, nothing close to the projected performance expectations. Single-pixel ops were not efficient. Too much latency. They made a version of this same graphics chip but using SDRAM. It worked much better, but it was too late, their oem customers had moved to other chip manufacturers. Cirrus Logic nearly died.
  • -9 Hide
    jsc , November 18, 2011 1:40 AM
    :bounce: 
  • 6 Hide
    Thunderfox , November 18, 2011 2:47 AM
    Excellent. Now shrivel up and die, you damnable patent troll.
  • 9 Hide
    dark_knight33 , November 18, 2011 2:55 AM
    That's what they get. RDRAM was hideously expensive at the time, due in no small part to Ramdass' license fees. If they were smart, they would have dropped the fee a bit more to bring the price in line with performance. Instead, they thought they were hot stuff, and not they pay the price.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing Rambus' CEO, Board, and other high level executives have to explain to their families why they can't get that second yacht now.
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , November 18, 2011 3:36 AM
    dark_knight33That's what they get. RDRAM was hideously expensive at the time, due in no small part to Ramdass' license fees. If they were smart, they would have dropped the fee a bit more to bring the price in line with performance. Instead, they thought they were hot stuff, and not they pay the price. I don't know about the rest of you, but I get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing Rambus' CEO, Board, and other high level executives have to explain to their families why they can't get that second yacht now.


    Actually, the price had almost NOTHING to do with licensing fees. They just had a terrible time making PC800. Eventually, it proved superior to DDR, and cost the same, but by then the reputation was so bad, it died. When they were both out, RDRAM outperformed DDR on the Pentium 4.

    Ironically, when RDRAM was very expensive, and for a processor that couldn't effectively use it (although the i840 worked well), Intel was pushing RDRAM. When RDRAM prices finally fell so they were the same as DDR, and it had a processor that could use it, Intel walked away from it. Weird.

    This news isn't the end off of this. Rambus will appeal it, and the next result could be different. If you can get RMBS very cheap, it's a very good stock to own.
  • -1 Hide
    cohetedor , November 18, 2011 3:37 AM
    sykozisExactly what Pentium3 compatible motherboards supported RDRAM??? The only boards I've ever seen support it were all for Pentium4 processors....Rumors say AMD is using XDR....not RDRAM....


    Off the top of my head, the intel branded VC820 motherboard supported rdram for Slot 1 PIII processors. I had one paired with an 866mhz p3, still have it stuck in a closet somewhere, but the memory was stupid expensive and had to be used in pairs or with terminator cards for any empty slots. I believe Intel also released a dual socket workstation board based on the same chipset if I remember right.
  • 5 Hide
    Darkerson , November 18, 2011 3:37 AM
    Definitely put a smile on my face reading that.
  • 1 Hide
    ko888 , November 18, 2011 3:43 AM
    High latency RDRAM combined with a Netburst architecture CPU. What a lousy combo.
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , November 18, 2011 4:39 AM
    rambus was right to sue for price fixing, but the patent trolling that followed was bad.
    when rdram came out it seemed SO bad, price-performance wise. i remember opting for a ddr supporting mobo instead of rdram supporting mobo after reading rdram reviews. i don't regret that one bit (i do regret buying a space heater tho') :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2011 4:40 AM
    OMFG justice was served in a US court. Unbelievable. I am happy on this ruling.
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 18, 2011 6:13 AM
    Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day, this result is good but I cant help but think this a rare occurance
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