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Fortune on Rambus

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the outlook-not-so-good dept.

The Almighty Buck 106

Weasel Boy writes: "Fortune delivers a whithering attack on Rambus, which as previously reported here, was found guilty of fraud when it tried to sue Infineon for patent infringement. The article gives a capsule history of Rambus and how it was brought down by the 'duplicity and greed' that made it a darling on Wall Street and despised in Silicon Valley, but prudently stops short of writing its epitaph."

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Re:oops. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#124023)

What do you mean? "Rambus has cost nearly everyone a fortue." There.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#124024)

Plus, at a 1.2GHz external bus, you start to run into speed of light limitations. The clock cycle at 1.2GHz is about 833ps. During that time frame, light travels about 10 inches (25cm). Compare that to a 266MHz bus, where the cycle time is about 3.5ns. You get just over a yard. Also, consider that you have to cycle from high to low and back to high in that time frame, so (I think) that at 1.2GHz, your traces can't be any longer than about 5 inches, whereas at 266MHz, you can have 18inch traces.

Patent Problems? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#124025)

It seems that Rambus is using industry standard tactics (patenting all they can, forcing cross-licensing) and simply made the mistake of letting a fraudulant challenge go to court.

We need more companies to do this sort of thing so that we can challenge the current problems with the patent system.

Re:Someone should by 'em out (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#124026)

Technically speaking, this is all wrong.

Rambus' core memory is no faster than anyone elses. All RDRAM has is a different/novel way of communicating data across the bus. It's not even that good, when you get down to it in nitty-gritty detail: the RDRAM controller is a nightmare to implement well [even Rambus' own controller design sucks]. Precisely because of Rambus' wacky comms protocol. A good SDRAM controller is almost trivial.

Rambus can only go up to 1200MHz if they have core memory capable of that speed. And if they do, so do the SDRAM manufacturers. And if *they* do, they'll figure a way to get the same throughput and latency at a lower clockspeed without that comms bullshit.

Rambus is dead. Good riddance. RDRAM is the single worst feature of the PS2 so I'll be very happy if PS3 uses a more sensible memory architecture.

Re:As a designer of Rambus stuff .... (2)

bluGill (862) | more than 13 years ago | (#124027)

What the article didn't point out was that each of these ideas were already in RamBus's designs

Perhaps, but you have one year from the time a designe is publicly demonstrated (See a lawyer if you want an exact definition of this) to file for a patent. That is in the US, in most other countries, if it isn't patented when you demonstrate it then you can't patent it.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (3)

jCaT (1320) | more than 13 years ago | (#124028)

that's actually somewhat misleading. The amount of DAMAGES that you may recieve is capped at $350k.. the rest of the money goes straight to the govt. You can still sue people for 10 million, but you will only ever see $350k of it. I totally agree with it, because it keeps people from using lawsuits as a "get rich quick" scheme... and it still has the effect of 'hurting' the other party financially.

This may not be the case in virginia, but I know other states have laws like this.

I'm betting DDR-SDRAM... (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 13 years ago | (#124029)

It's cheaper. It's performance is closer to the promised performance of RDRAM, not the real.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (2)

Ben Hutchings (4651) | more than 13 years ago | (#124030)

Then there are 'punitive' damages, i.e. to compensate you for ongoing pain, suffering, mental anguish, permanent dexterity loss, etc., that you have suffered and/or will continue to suffer for years.

No! Punitive damages are meant to punish the guilty party, hence the name. Sometimes a defendant is found to have made a calculated decision to break the law because the expected financial benefit of doing so was greater than the expected damages. As I understand things, the threat of punitive damages is intended to deter such calculation.

Next step: Go after Lemelson (5)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 13 years ago | (#124032)

I applaud these manufacturers for standing up to Rambus, and destroying their fraudulent patent-manipulation schemes.

Fortune recently wrote an article [fortune.com] about the schemes of Jerome Lemelson, who, with his cohorts, extorted billions from various industries by similar patent manipulations. Some have said "he didn't patent inventions, he invented patents."

Cognex is going after them now, ready to fight the good fight, just like these other folks did. Hopefully they'll be as successful.

Here's to the good guys!

Re: My Story (2)

mandolin (7248) | more than 13 years ago | (#124033)

a lack of punctuation, capitalization (...) is so distracting that the meager excuse for content is totally lost on the recipient.

mostly for pedants such as yourself. you are making the assumption that poorly capitalized messages lack content. obviously you've never read alan cox's posts to the kernel mailing list

What bother me are the legions of engineering students and former engineering students who think that as technical people they don't need to be able to speak and write intelligently.

I am especially annoyed by people who write like that in email.

oh plz... iF tH3Y can understand what's being said between themselves then wtf cares .. Now, are we perhaps writing technical documentation or standards? Well, in that case there is certainly a need for precise language.

I don't feel email about snacks down the hall qualifies though. In fact I prefer the shorthand, it's quicker to read through. Your intolerance is also unlikely to make you friends among non-native english speakers.

There is a very real and unavoidable tendency for people to form their first impressions on others based on presentation as opposed to content. So stick with what the grammar nazis taught you if you're attempting to establish your credibility with a third party (even when you have none). Once that reputation is established, there is no reason to appease someone who gets flustered just because you don't dot your i's.

Re:Next step: Go after Lemelson (3)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#124035)

Fortune recently wrote an article [fortune.com] about the schemes of Jerome Lemelson, who, with his cohorts, extorted billions from various industries by similar patent manipulations.
This must be one of the most informative articles [fortune.com] ever written about the U.S. patent sytem and it's possible abuses.

Pleast mod this dude up!!!

--
Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.

Re:Someone should by 'em out (1)

Delphis (11548) | more than 13 years ago | (#124036)

Exactly. Latency is the real trick. Sure bandwidth is important but it's not much point if it takes ages to get it going. For example you can have a lot of bandwidth to your house this way: I fill up a 40GB disk and travel to your house with it, but the latency sucks .. it takes me a long time to travel there and hook up the drive compared to you actually starting to download the data with a modem.

When at the chip level and serveral requests are made constantly, the latency problem really kicks in.

--
Delphis

Re:oops. (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 13 years ago | (#124037)

No... Those three have only subverted standards after they were established... Rambus seeked to (and basically suceeded) subvert a standard as it was being developed, by hiding the fact that the "suggestions" they were making to the DDR RAM consortium that they (Rambus) had already patented the "suggestions", until the day that manufacturing began (or so goes my understanding of it...)

Yes, MS might not be nice because they take an "open" standard, add "MS" before it, and viola! have their own standard... But i've yet to hear of them pulling what Rambus pulled...

Re:Next step: Go after Lemelson (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#124038)

That should be it's own /. article - great post! Fortune has had a number of good articles on the legal and financial background of technology issues lately; maybe I should read it more often.

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Re:Intel (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#124039)

Hey, I'd root for the Mom 'n Pop making chips in the garage, except there really aren't any. Without that alternative, it's better in business to always root for the underdog. Competition ultimately leads to better products for everyone.

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Re:You know, this just warms my heart. (2)

Frijoles (16015) | more than 13 years ago | (#124040)

Scion never heard from E&S again, and neither did anyone else.

This is OT, sorry.

E&S currently has ~80% of the market share in the government simulation business, IIRC, and they are focusing their sites on commercial business now as well. Just a list of some of their customers: most major airlines, NASA, some film and video studios, lots of planetariums (Digital Theater is lovely), and of course others.

And let's of course not forget their backing by Intel.

To say E&S has never been heard from again is silly considering how large of a company it is and how many contracts they have out. I haven't heard of the situation you described, but then again, that was quite a while ago.

If they view MP3 patents the same way... (2)

Hasdi Hashim (17383) | more than 13 years ago | (#124041)

... we'll be all set.

I respect your comment (1)

LittleStone (18310) | more than 13 years ago | (#124042)

As an well educated person who uses English as my secondary language, you may not aware that your opinion, "the ability to understand and apply the rules of English indicate a certain level of intelligence and education," could be an insult to people like me. Logically you did not imply people who wrote poor English lack intelligence and education, but I suspect that is the intention you would like to imply.

If I were you, I would have "put time and thought into what you wrote."

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (3)

King Babar (19862) | more than 13 years ago | (#124043)

This is why companies bother to pick and choose what states they incorporate in...a texan company I used to work for (and is laying of more people as we speak) was incorporated in the state of Delaware, because Delaware has wonderful laws concerning corporations.

Of which the most wonderful law is that you can incorporate in Delaware without having to live there. :-)

More seriously, there are some tax advantages, which a number of "incorporate your firm in Delaware" websites will cheerily mention. But one of the more important advantages in the long term is that the court system there is very fair and very predictable in its application of corporate law. Precedent really controls the rulings, and there is a large body and long history of precedent in the state.

Re: My Story (2)

YoJ (20860) | more than 13 years ago | (#124044)

As a grad. student in mathematics, most of my friends are not native English speakers. And I assure you, they appreciate correct English grammar more than the Americans.

There is a big difference from being tolerant of people making honest grammatical mistakes, and from putting up with people who can't be bothered to even make an effort to get things right (and who think it doesn't matter if they get it wrong). I agree with a previous poster. There are too many engineers and computer science students who don't think English skills matter.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (1)

ChadN (21033) | more than 13 years ago | (#124045)

What if your actual damages are much greater than $350k?

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

ChadN (21033) | more than 13 years ago | (#124046)

Vaporware...

Re:still disapointed ... (2)

ChadN (21033) | more than 13 years ago | (#124047)

But DDR SDRAM typically transfers 64 bits per clock (or half clock), and Rambus typically does 16 bits per clock.

Do THAT math, and all of a sudden DDR comes out ahead of RAMBUS (but, this is all oversimplification)

Re:Rambus should have counted their blessings... (4)

ChadN (21033) | more than 13 years ago | (#124048)

(Granted I don't know that Rambus really innovated on anything-- from the article and what I've heard, RDRAM "technology" is nearly identical to SDRAM except for a handful of minor changes..)

That is far from the truth. RAMBUS is significantly different in many ways, and can't be criticized for its lack of innovation. But those changes have their tradeoffs.

See Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] article for the technical details.

*sigh* moderators (1)

BigDaddyJ (38640) | more than 13 years ago | (#124049)

Now, if you want, call the guy a "troll" for "trolling for karma". But flamebait!?!? Come on...

--bdj

p.s. *I* thought it was funny.

Re:Someone should by 'em out (2)

csbruce (39509) | more than 13 years ago | (#124050)

(Todays managers ruthless and sadistic enough to do something like that)

It seems very clear that the managers at Rambus are primarily interested in money, so you may rest assured that when Rambus goes bust, its managers will be selling whatever legitimate technology Rambus owns for every penny they can get.

Re:Good story, but they left out one thing... (2)

csbruce (39509) | more than 13 years ago | (#124051)

Maybe the next Slashdot Poll should be a Rambus Dead Pool: when do you expect Rambus to go bust: (1) next Tuesday, (2) six months, (3) 12 months, (4) two years, (5) five years, (6) 1996, (7) CowboyNeal.

Re:still disapointed ... (3)

csbruce (39509) | more than 13 years ago | (#124052)

In addition to assuming that SDRAM technology will stand still, you're also assuming that Rambus will still be around in 12 months and that any chip maker would ever trust them enough again to license any of their technology.

You know, this just warms my heart. (5)

jcr (53032) | more than 13 years ago | (#124053)

It's nice to see bad things happen to sleazy people. Kudos to Infineon for fighting the good fight.

Back in the early 80's, Evans & Sutherland tried something like this, sending letters to a number of graphics card makers claiming a patent on --are you ready for this?-- the memory-mapped frame buffer!

I was working for Scion corporation at the time, (makers of the MicroAngelo graphics card for the Altair bus).

Rather than cave in, Bill Follin got on the phone with Marty Alpert at Tecmar, and the CEO's of four or five other manufacturers, and they sent E&S a reply saying, (basically) cut this shit out, or we'll sue to overturn *all* of your patents on the grounds that they're obvious to one skilled in the art and should never have been issued in the first place.

Scion never heard from E&S again, and neither did anyone else.

-jcr

Jailtime? (2)

redelm (54142) | more than 13 years ago | (#124054)

IIRC, US Patent Applications require inventor's signatures saying they invented the thing. Making mods after discussions in JEDEC meetings seems to indicate otherwise.

Don't fraudulent patent applications carry penalties? Perjury?

Re: My Story (5)

norton_I (64015) | more than 13 years ago | (#124055)

First of all, reasonably proper spelling and grammar indicate that someone put time and thought into what they wrote. It indicates to me as a reader that the author thought the subject was worth spending more than a few minutes on, and therefore is more likely to be worth my time to read.

Second, the ability to understand and apply the rules of English indicate a certain level of intelligence and education. Again, this is a clue to me as a reader that the author might have something worth reading.

Finally, poor spelling and grammar really do make things harder to read and understand. It causes the reader to spend more effort on understanding the important details, and less on deciphering the language. At the most extreme form of people trying to be cute with email "how r u doing", a lack of punctuation, capitalization, or any semblance of English is so distracting that the meager excuse for content is totally lost on the recipient.

That said, I have never found errors in the headlines and blurbs to be distracting. Sometimes the headlines do a poor job of conveying the topic of the link, but that is usually from some botched attempt at a journalistic "hook" than poor English.

This isn't meant to be a rant at the /. guys. They do a fine job, and as I said, their particular idiosyncrasies rarely bother me. What bother me are the legions of engineering students and former engineering students who think that as technical people they don't need to be able to speak and write intelligently.

I am especially annoyed by people who write like that in email. I don't really mind if people write like retarded 3rd graders to their friends (unless their friends includes me), but in an business setting even a brief and informal email to the person in the next cube deserves a few seconds of extra effort to translate it into real English.

Re:You know, this just warms my heart. (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 13 years ago | (#124056)

He didn't say that E&S disappeared off the face of the earth, he said that nobody ever heard from them again about patents.

At least, that's how I read it...

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (1)

Paelon (69063) | more than 13 years ago | (#124057)

I believe the cap is on punative damages. Not total damages. If I'm not mistaken (but I'm pretty certain I am), punitive damages are to punish the offending company, and have nothing to with your (as the plantiff's) losses.

Anyone with a better explanation?

As a designer of Rambus stuff .... (5)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#124058)

I've designed a number of chips using RamBus's RDRAMs - from the very early days when their first chips came out (but I've never worked for them).

One thing that's interesting about the story is that it describes how a RamBus employee went to standards meetings and came back with ideas for things to patent - then the company patented them. What the article didn't point out was that each of these ideas were already in RamBus's designs (for example the low voltage swings were a staple of their basic idea etc etc). It's more a case of them being prompted by the meetings to cover their butts than outright stealing of other people's ideas.

Having said that they obviously didn't bother to patent this stuff - IMHO much of it is "obvious to one skilled in the art" - proved by the fact that it was being independantly invented in the standards meetings by others who are obviously skilled in the art and therefore should never have been accepted as a patent by the USPTO (like they care, or bother to check)

Re:As a designer of Rambus stuff .... (2)

beamz (75318) | more than 13 years ago | (#124059)

We could all get into a spat about open source, and contributing to technology in general but why is it necessary?

I thought the whole concept of a standards body was so that everyone could profit from the technology, not one company figure out what others on a standards body or group may use.

I'm sure many have brought this up but why did Rambus choose to join the standards body if it had no intention to contribute (without a steep price)

It seems if they wanted to cover their buts they should have never joined JEDEC.
I think the mere fact that they did join JEDEC and patent their technology *after* meeting with other companies is insulting and regardless of who's design it was, they screwed up.

So many people utter over and over, it's all about execution. Rambus doesn't have a clue.

Fortune delivers a whithering attack on Rambus... (3)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 13 years ago | (#124060)

foo@localhost:/usr/home/foo$ /usr/games/fortune -o
Rambus, like, sucks and stuff. They have dumb employees and they kinda smell like poo. Nyahh!!! Neener neener! Take that Rambus!
foo@localhost:/usr/home/foo$

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (1)

slykens (85844) | more than 13 years ago | (#124061)

But what I was looking for is how the federal court award comes under state jurisdiction. Maybe the guy was just wrong and it is a federal limit. I don't know, so I was looking for an explanation.

Thanks.

Wasn't the suit in federal court? (3)

slykens (85844) | more than 13 years ago | (#124062)

From the second article:

A federal court jury here Wednesday afternoon found Rambus Inc. had committed fraud by failing to disclose its synchronous patent applications to the industry JEDEC standards body.

and

The damage amount, however, will likely be reduced to as low as $350,000 due to a Virginia state law capping the level of punitive awards.

Can someone explain why a federal award would be reduced under state law?

Re:Next step: Go after Lemelson (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 13 years ago | (#124063)

What we really need in the USA is to make it easier for courts to rule that the loser pays the winner's lawyers.

Anything that requires expenditure of money will favor the parties with more money, unless you've got some way of making the expenditure of money proportional to each party's assets (wouldn't THAT put a crimp in a large corporations legal strategies :-)

Re:Someone should by 'em out (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#124064)

That's actually not a bad idea, but if any company did this, they'd probably duplicate the same predatory techniques. RMBS is getting pretty low now; I wonder if an Open Source community hostile takeover would work. If we could snarf up enough of their stock and all assign our stock votes to someone like Stallman, that'd kill the company dead in a way that'd make the business world sit up and take notice.

mainstream media obtains a clue! (5)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 13 years ago | (#124065)

wow!

what'll we see next?

Business Week: "Bill Gates - No Longer Our Hero"

ABC News: "Next up - Why Soundbite Journalism Sucks"

ZDNet: ... uh... well... I don't want to push my luck. ;-) Guess I'll just count my blessings.

Good story, but they left out one thing... (2)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 13 years ago | (#124066)

The fact that RDRAM loses to DDR in realworld benchmarking tests. Not only are you paying more money, you're getting less performance. (This was brought up on Slashdot several times over the past year. Yeah, I could go looking for a proper citation, but I thought I would leave that to the Karma Whores. ;-))

That's why I don't expect Rambus to be in business three years from now.

still disapointed ... (2)

OmegaDan (101255) | more than 13 years ago | (#124067)

I'm still disapointed that Rambus hasn't been convicted of fraud ... Rambus is the definition of fraud, I'd like to see the company disasembled, its exectives heavily fined, and its patents released to the public.

Re:Good story, but they left out one thing... (2)

Fesh (112953) | more than 13 years ago | (#124068)

Well, write 'em a letter. Maybe it'll get into the "Letters to the Editor" section... Fortune is a magazine, after all... That's what the LTE is for, eh?


--Fesh

Market cap is $1 billion (2)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 13 years ago | (#124069)

I don't know who the largest shareholder is, but odds are you're still looking at a good $300 millon worth of stock you'd need to buy.

Webvan's down to $35 million, so we could get them for about 1/10th the cost.

The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

Re:still disapointed ... (2)

sigwinch (115375) | more than 13 years ago | (#124070)

Vaporware. The best current technology can only do 64-bits @ 1.2GHz for a few millimeters inside a CPU. Extending that to 20 centimeters on commodity circuit-board materials will take technology that does not exist and will not exist for a long time.

Re:still disapointed ... (2)

sigwinch (115375) | more than 13 years ago | (#124071)

Reposting the parent comment because it makes an *excellent* point about 1.2 GHz logic, but is rated 0 and therefore won't be seen by many people:

Plus, at a 1.2GHz external bus, you start to run into speed of light limitations. The clock cycle at 1.2GHz is about 833ps. During that time frame, light travels about 10 inches (25cm). Compare that to a 266MHz bus, where the cycle time is about 3.5ns. You get just over a yard. Also, consider that you have to cycle from high to low and back to high in that time frame, so (I think) that at 1.2GHz, your traces can't be any longer than about 5 inches, whereas at 266MHz, you can have 18inch traces.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#124072)

Shadow Gallery, eh? Thanks, I'll have to check them out. It never ceases to amaze me that I almost always hear about Queensryche and Dream Theater in the same breath. Loved Metropolis Part 2. They're a pretty amazing act, as well.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#124073)

If there are no federal laws on such things, it falls under state law, I believe. Of course, I'm not a lawyer, nor even American. This is why companies bother to pick and choose what states they incorporate in...a texan company I used to work for (and is laying of more people as we speak) was incorporated in the state of Delaware, because Delaware has wonderful laws concerning corporations.

Re:Someone should by 'em out (1)

_Bean_ (128235) | more than 13 years ago | (#124074)

16 bits per clock for rambus vs 64 per clock for DDR so the clock speed isn't that big of a difference. Also increasing their clock speed by 50%(from 800) in 4 years doesn't sound that impressive. I'm sure that whatever the leading memory tech is will be pumping out a lot more that rambus would at 1200Mhz.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

_Bean_ (128235) | more than 13 years ago | (#124075)

Never there

Re: My Story (1)

Deflatamouse! (132424) | more than 13 years ago | (#124076)

The English language is a standard.

Sure it is a standard, but there is not just one standard English language. Different localities have its own 'standards'. It is not an API, but a protocol. As long as both parties agree to a certain protocol (perhaps even slighly different, but compatible), communication can be achieved. Calling one that does not speak your protocol 'stupid' is ignorant, self-centered, and racist.

Re:Intel (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 13 years ago | (#124077)

Wow. Thats massively inferior. The 1.53GHz Athlon is almost a whole one percent slower than a 1.7GHz Pentium 4. If you can get someone to double-blind test the difference between 226 and 228 frames a second then I'll call the scientists for you. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure that people can tell the difference in the price of the two machines they benchmarked! People can argue back and forth about which is better, but your initial statements about AMD's inferior product are rash when Intel's superiority is at best arguable. You can say Quake 3, I can say 3DMark, and back and forth it goes.

Is that enough for the coffin nails, then? (3)

connorbd (151811) | more than 13 years ago | (#124078)

That's the thing about non-mainstream press, isn't it? Someone else will often break the story first, long before the mainstream picks up on it, but you have to wade through so much garbage to get to it.

I think it's pretty clear that what Rambus was doing was pretty slimy, and they were found guilty with good reason. JEDEC members had an understanding. Rambus trampled on it and then jumped ship to avoid facing the music. I do think the "running scared" comment that someone pointed out does indicate a sense of delusion on the part of the Rambus partisans; I mean, I said the same thing about Intel's advertising FUD back when Apple started shipping Power Macs, but the comment actually made sense at the time.

I look at it this way: any memory bus that requires anything even vaguely resembling a terminator is probably broken anyway.

/Brian

Unfortunately, (5)

Perdo (151843) | more than 13 years ago | (#124079)

I've posted this to many Rambus stories before and it has never recieved any moderation so has by and large gone unread: Raytheon and perhaps other manufacturers developed small bit buffers in the sixties that worked with quadra phase shift keying (QPSK) modems. English translation, they built memory that stored four data bits per clock cycle. Again, there is 40 years of prior art for Rambus's patents governing RDRAM. A specific raytheon device that had a QPSK bit buffer was the tropo modem found in the AN/TRC-170, a military digital transmission van, built in the early 70's and still in service today.

Re:still disapointed ... (2)

sid_vicious (157798) | more than 13 years ago | (#124080)

I'm still disapointed that Rambus hasn't been convicted of fraud ... Rambus is the definition of fraud, I'd like to see the company disasembled, its exectives heavily fined, and its patents released to the public.

From the article... In light of admissions like that, it's not surprising that the jury found that Rambus had committed fraud and slapped the company with $3.5 million in damages ...

And they imply that a current trial could end with the dismissal of several of Rambus' patents.

Ask and you shall receive. Does anyone on here actually read these articles?!

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

itarget (168249) | more than 13 years ago | (#124081)

RDRAM can't do 64bits per tick at 1200Mhz for the same reason DDR-SDRAM can't. The signal degrades before it can go much of anywhere. You have to either cut down the frequency or cut down the bus width. Cutting down the bus width requires that you use a protocol to communicate with the memory if you want it to work well with your modern system... and that means overhead, downright painful latency and a nightmarish implimenation.

What RDRAM can (and does) do is use multiple memory channels to access more modules at once and effectively provide higher bandwidth. This requires pairs (or quartets if they go quad-channel) of modules and is something DDR-SDRAM can also do. Check out Nvidia's high-end Nforce chipset (there are two) for an example of dual-channel DDR-SDRAM.

Withering, not whithering (1)

kylef (196302) | more than 13 years ago | (#124082)

Just so that we don't start using the wrong word elsewhere, the correct word is "WITHERING attack" not "WHITHERING attack". There is no such word as "whithering." It is a bastardized version of "whither", as in "Whither are we wondering?" To "wither" means "to cause to shrivel or fade" which is surely the implied meaning here. Just FYI.

*sigh* moderation, plz (1)

OtaconX (199675) | more than 13 years ago | (#124083)

this should be flamebait, i just dont feel like flaming today (got a new m505 =D)

Re: My Story (1)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 13 years ago | (#124084)

Your intolerance is also unlikely to make you friends among non-native english speakers.
As a non native-english speaker, I certainly appreciate more reading correct english than 3733t FuNlOoKiNg "art".

Re:Rambus should have counted their blessings... (1)

DarkEdgeX (212110) | more than 13 years ago | (#124085)

I haven't read the Ars Technica article (but I will!), so bear this in mind in my reply--

From the Fortune article linked to in this story--

And the very chipmakers to which Rambus was trying to sell its products were developing a competing product called SDRAM. Where RDRAM was seen as revolutionary, SDRAM was resolutely evolutionary. (The most significant difference between the two, according to the judge's ruling in the Infineon trial: RDRAM transmits three different types of information on a single "bus"--essentially a collection of wires; SDRAM has separate buses, each dedicated to a single type of information.)

That's kind of where I got my info.. it's more likely that the author was just uninformed, but having not read the article you linked to, I don't know. =) I just wanted to let you know the source of my comment.

Rambus should have counted their blessings... (5)

DarkEdgeX (212110) | more than 13 years ago | (#124086)

Getting Intel to declare your memory architecure as the defacto standard for their new upcoming processor(s) should have been enough. The money they were getting for licensing RDRAM was guaranteed, and about the only way they could have failed in the open market is if the Pentium 4 had failed (which it has, to an extent, but it's not entirely dead).

I do agree with the Fortune writer that Rambus got greedy, and that's too bad-- having more companies working on technology is never a bad thing, but in the case of Rambus, when a company tries to choke off their competitors, it's doomed to failure. I think everyone agrees that it was nice having 3DFX, nVidia and ATI competing in the 3D graphics chipset market-- which is why it's nice to have memory makers competing with different technologies or standards. As the competition is either bought or crushed, there's less incentive from the remaining companies to continue to innovate. (Granted I don't know that Rambus really innovated on anything-- from the article and what I've heard, RDRAM "technology" is nearly identical to SDRAM except for a handful of minor changes..)

It'll be interesting to see how these rulings against RMBS turn up on appeal (though I really doubt they'll get the verdicts overturned).

Re:oops. (1)

Megahurts (215296) | more than 13 years ago | (#124087)

I take it you don't watch the market much

for anyone lucky enough to be holding RMBS options in early 2000, the words fortune and rambus could not be separated. waging a chevy metro on their name at that time could have netted you a bmw m5.

of course, I think they're scum for what they tried to do to the industry. But they sure did make a lot of people a lot of money.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 13 years ago | (#124088)

No, it's executives should both be fined AND sent to jail to share a cell with Bubba. Maybe if other corporations' executives saw what kind of penalties they could face for illegal practices, we wouldn't have all these problems with greedy companies that we currently have.

Re:Wasn't the suit in federal court? (1)

gandy909 (222251) | more than 13 years ago | (#124090)

I knew being a sys admin for a state court system would come in handy someday! :) even so...IANAL!! There are 'actual' damages, i.e. car accident: 10k to replace the car, 20k for medical bills, 5k for lost pay at work, etc. Then there are 'punitive' damages, i.e. to compensate you for ongoing pain, suffering, mental anguish, permanent dexterity loss, etc., that you have suffered and/or will continue to suffer for years. As always, different states have different laws on exactly what things can be included there, but I think that at least in quite a few you can't outright say you want 3mil as punishment to the offender, but you instead ask for 3mil for the pain and suffering you are enduring...same diff in your pocket(or more likely the attorney's pocket), but totally different on paper.

Re: My Story (1)

ralphbecket (225429) | more than 13 years ago | (#124091)

I concur. Wading through semi-literate sub-English in the hope of finding something worthy of consideration is excruciating. These days I rarely bother - it hasn't affected me adversely.

But then I am a screaming intellectual snob.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

unicaller (228606) | more than 13 years ago | (#124092)

Are your retarded or just can't read?

RDRAM 400Mhz DDR with a 16bit data path 400x2x16=12,800

DDR-SDRAM 133Mhz DDR with a 64bit data path 133x2x64=17,024

this is the max data throughput fot both types of memory, only adding chanels(or speeding up the bus) can increse the data rate. RDRAM has a smaller bus(fewer traces on the PCB) cheeper to add RDRAM chanels than SDRAM.

Re:Someone should by 'em out (1)

unicaller (228606) | more than 13 years ago | (#124093)

400Mhz DDR not 800Mhz!

133Mhz DDR not 266Mhz!

Hum let's see 400Mhz DDR and a 16bit data bus works out to 12,800, and 133Mhz DDR with a 64bit bus works out to 17,024. Both use Havard type architure(data and address over the same bus) this is why SDRAM has a lower CAS all of the addres information arives at once RDRAM takes 4 cycles to transmit address information, the lookup can only start once all the address information has been recived.

oops. (3)

room101 (236520) | more than 13 years ago | (#124094)

Oh, when I saw the words "Rambus" and "Fortune" together, I nearly wet my pants. I didn't think those belonged together. But now I see that it't "Fortune" the magazine.

Nevermind.

Re:Intel (2)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 13 years ago | (#124096)

I hope that consumers fail to see how you have an inferior product and all!

How can you make such an inane statement? The AMD Athlon's provide far more bang-for-the-buck than do the Intell PIIIs and PIVs. The floating point units in the Athlons are better than those in the Pentiums. I own an Athlon, Duron, Pentium III, and Celeron-based systems, so, unlike some people (you?), I'm not talking out of my a$$. I switched from Intel to AMD because AMD had a far-superior product for the money.

Re:Intel (2)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 13 years ago | (#124097)

The parent to this was not a "troll." He's right. Intel does deserve to suffer for their pact with Rambus and I share his sentiments. I have to believe that the moderator owns an Intel-based PC...

Re:Intel (1)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 13 years ago | (#124099)

Yes yes yes, let's all root for that OTHER big corporation. Go AMD! I hope you have better sales on your Athlons, because even though I don't hold stock in your company, I irrationally support you anyway! I hope that consumers fail to see how you have an inferior product and all!

I'm not sure at how this statement relates to the article at all. The only thing that I can figure is that you for some reason equate RDRAM with Intel processors and DDR/SDRAM with AMD processors. Obviously that isn't the case as SDRAM is supported by Intel-based chipsets, and Intel is planning to release DDR boards for their Pentium IV processors around the end of the year (they would have done so sooner had there not been a stipulation in their contract that Rambus preventing them from doing it).

Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]

Re:You know, this just warms my heart. (2)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 13 years ago | (#124100)

To say E&S has never been heard from again is silly considering how large of a company it is and how many contracts they have out.

I think that what he was saying is that E&S never came knocking on their doors again about that particular "patent."

Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]

Re:Has anyone been to www.rambusite.com? (2)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 13 years ago | (#124101)

Take a look at their response. You'll come to the conclusion that they've been brainwashed by the company's cult-like PR department.

The thing that I just don't understand about Rambus is this:

The tech industry said all along that it was too expensive. Most memory manufacturers who were far larger than Rambus ever dreamed to be were working on a competing standard that had higher performance at a lower cost. Nobody in the tech biz wanted to even mess with Rambus, even after Intel decided to go with RDRAM and basically bribed memory manufacturers to license the technology. Rambus's heavy-handed tactics were well-known in the industry and they were spurned for it.

How in the hell could any analyst or market researcher even pretend that Rambus was ever a smart buy (at any price)? It was obvious from the beginning that it was doomed to failure. And yet it became one of the hottest IPOs ever. And had an astronomical P/E ratio. It just goes to show you that when it comes to the stock market, even the "experts" are clueless.

Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]

Re: My Story (2)

ocbwilg (259828) | more than 13 years ago | (#124102)

Now please allow me to translate for all of the technical types who feel that correct grammar and punctuation is not important: The English language is a standard. Our ability to comprehend is an API (which comes from being taught how to read). Your written words are code. Now code to the freaking standard already so that your writing will be compatible with our API! Most of the writing on Slashdot is just spaghetti code.

Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]

Re:Italian spelling (1)

BryceH (263331) | more than 13 years ago | (#124104)

hrm.. your applying english rules to another language .. bad idea, usualy doesnt work.

Re:Next step: Go after Lemelson (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 13 years ago | (#124105)

One thing to remember about Lemelson: he did start out actually inventing new toys, and soon discovered that toy companies would rather steal ideas than buy them. Some of the early lawsuits seemed reasonable from what I heard. (You didn't really expect Fortune to publish something that makes a big corporation look bad in a dispute with an individual, rather than another big corporation?) On the other hand, when he patented an idea that turned out to be anything but new (a mask-cutout on a cardboard cereal box), instead of shrugging and going to work on the next idea, he went to court and kept fighting for over 20 years! Apparently somewhere along the way, he discovered that he could make more money by writing patent applications on things he could not actually build, and then harassing the companies that did eventually figure out to to make them. Bad news for the real innovators. What we really need in the USA is to make it easier for courts to rule that the loser pays the winner's lawyers. More knowledge and spine in the patent office would help, but if they hadn't granted Lemelson questionable patents, he just would have sued them instead of corporations...

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

fors (310930) | more than 13 years ago | (#124106)

Do you have any idea of what it would cost to build such a stick of memory. Their 16 bit stick costs more than a comparable stick of DDR and the price gap for them to go to a 64 bit stick will be astronomical. It doesn't scale well economically.

Re:mainstream media obtains a clue! (1)

alcmena (312085) | more than 13 years ago | (#124107)

ZDNet: "Doh, we screwed up again."

Slashdot: see ZDNet

That's two greedy SOBs (1)

slaida1 (412260) | more than 13 years ago | (#124108)

Jerome Lemelson and his lawyer Gerry Hosier, according to that story, robbed 1.5billion from various industries in US and other countries. Compared to these two unimaginably greedy individuals, Rambus is an insect.

Basically, Lemelson used this loophole: (from the article) Until that 1995 law changed the rules, a newly issued patent had a 17-year life span--during which time nobody was supposed to be able to use the idea without paying for it. But a patent application could be delayed through something called a "continuation." During that process, applicants were permitted to amend, modify, or add claims to their inventions. As long as the inventor could persuade an examiner that the new claims were consistent with the original specifications, he could even go so far as to incorporate somebody else's technology into his own patent application.

These lines picture well how obvious Lemelson's strategy was. Sad thing here is, it started working when Sony licensed "Lemelson's" technology for 2 million because it was peanuts for Sony. You can guess, what man can do with that kind of money and determination to litigate anyone..

(from the article) For example, here is Lemelson in 1967, intensely monitoring other people's inventions--and then trying to capture them in his own pending patent applications. "I am enclosing a reprint of an article in the February 1967 issue of Control Engineering Magazine which briefly describes the Speed-Park Garage," Lemelson writes, referring to an automated car-parking garage that Ford had just opened. He then suggests modifying one of his pending patent applications so that it would cover a key element of the technology: "It may be quite profitable to us in the future to attempt to get claims on the fork-reject switch...." Another letter describes how a competitor has redesigned a part so that it wouldn't infringe on Lemelson's patent. "Couldn't we file a reissue application," Lemelson asks, "to add a claim or two to cover this aspect?"

And this man tought of himself as "modern day Edison". pfft.

Re:Intel (1)

Supa Mentat (415750) | more than 13 years ago | (#124109)

Funny thing is, I _do_ own some AMD stock, I bought it a couple months back.

the furtune story... (1)

rmbus2003 (449539) | more than 13 years ago | (#124110)

1. one can add claims to the original patent 2. rambus has european patents long before the commitie 'invented' DDR and SDRAM 3. all companies had NDA with rambus when they 'invented' sync ram if you have the balls to bet that rambus will be out of business or will not defend its patents, or ddr will be in every system one day, then take some cash and short its stock, its easy money. really. if you are used to thinking on your own, you can see the trial transcripts at rambus.com in the investor section. this will probably help you buy that bmw that your .com friend drove last year :)

They could have been giants (3)

blang (450736) | more than 13 years ago | (#124111)

And now they're nothing. It's nice to see that some things works out for the best.

But imagine how easily things could have gone very wrong. Imagine that Rambus was the giant in the industry, and the other manufacturers were small. In that case, Rambus would have won the lawsuits, or maybe settled. And there would be a company with Microsoft style monopoly.

You'd be paying $300 bucks for your 128 MB instead of $30.

Re:Intel (1)

Silver222 (452093) | more than 13 years ago | (#124112)

Hmmm...IANAD, but I think you have your head stuffed up your ass. Would you care to offer some sources for the inflammatory remark? How exactly is AMD's product inferior? Details, my friend, details please.

Re:oops. (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 13 years ago | (#124113)

Actually, I don't see what's the big deal. If you're going to "rate evil", Rambus is not nearly on the top of the list. Even in computers, it pales in comparison to some of the legal stuff MS, Apple and Intel have pulled. I guess I don't understand false liberalism.

--- (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 13 years ago | (#124114)

The article gave a good history of Rambus, but there wasn't anything new. I just hope the computer-industry can deside on wether to go for RDRAM or DDR-RAM before Christmas. That's when I'm going to build my state-of-the-art computer.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 13 years ago | (#124115)

Have you thought of the consequences, they've managed to make 800Mhz. DDR is far from there (266)

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 13 years ago | (#124116)

That is now, acording to a Norwegian article on www.hardware.no [hardware.no] Rambus is changing their arcitechture and goning for 64 bits per tick at 1200Mhz. DDR is 64 bits per ticks at 266Mhz. Now do the math.

Re:still disapointed ... (1)

halftrack (454203) | more than 13 years ago | (#124117)

Futureware ...

Someone should by 'em out (3)

halftrack (454203) | more than 13 years ago | (#124118)

Their current owners/managers are obviusly not fit for the job, so someone should by 'em and sack 'em. This way we won't lose someone who've got the solution to the PC's currently largest problem, transfere rates between the CPU and the RAM. There is no use in a 1Thz CPU if the ram can only put data into it with a speed of 266Mhz (I know; you can't compare bus and CPU Mhz, but still...) Rambus is going for 1200Mhz within 2005 so someone should take over before someone burns the blueprints. (Todays managers ruthless and sadistic enough to do something like that)

Re:My Story (1)

JustinMWard (456415) | more than 13 years ago | (#124119)

Uh. You DO realize this was a joke? Server rooms at exodus are just big cages with fencing from bottom to top. Kind of like a holding cell at a police station (though without the hole in the floor. At least, without *that* hole in the floor). There is no temperature control. There are just big, huge air conditioning vents that keep the whole place at like 55 degrees.

And as for the glass wall thing. There ARE glass walls at exodus, at least at the one complex I've been to. But they separate the data center from offices and stuff like that. Not cage from cage.

There are also security cameras all over the place. I wanna see the video of Hemos, with his hot coffee breath and unwashed body...

-Justin

Re: My Story (1)

dkone (457398) | more than 13 years ago | (#124120)

If you are going to take the time to critque everyone else, then it is very, very important that your rant be perfect. The way I was taught, it is "in a business setting" NOT "in an business setting". typically one should use an only if the word following begins with a vowel.

Plus, this post (with the error) should not have been moderated to this level.

With all that being said, "how r u doing now?".

Re:Intel (1)

Anomolous Cow Herd (457746) | more than 13 years ago | (#124121)

Let's have a look at the cold, hard facts, then, shall we?

First, let's get this clear that I really don't give a shit about whether AMD can get better FP performance than a Pentium IV, because I don't use CAD/CAM applications, and frankly, FP is NOT everything. With that said, I present the Quake III benchmarks [hardocp.com] . Notice, if you will, the page before it [hardocp.com] which contains the WebMark results for the respective chips, something else that is important to me.

Also notice this [hardocp.com] , which is the Pentium IV's superior performance in OpenGL, even under high-quality graphics modes.

AMD also tends to have notoriously unstable motherboard chipsets, as most hardware reviewers will tell you [tomshardware.com] .

Now, I trust you will retract your statement that I am talking out my "a$$," as you so elegantly put it? Or are you going to keep trolling?

Re:Intel (2)

Anomolous Cow Herd (457746) | more than 13 years ago | (#124122)

Yes yes yes, let's all root for that OTHER big corporation. Go AMD! I hope you have better sales on your Athlons, because even though I don't hold stock in your company, I irrationally support you anyway! I hope that consumers fail to see how you have an inferior product and all!

Re:MOD THIS BACK UP, PLEASE (1)

Cunt Turd (460822) | more than 13 years ago | (#124123)

I agree.

--

Re:Someone should by 'em out (1)

thefixer (461139) | more than 13 years ago | (#124124)

i just like to say that Rambus has introduced higher latencies on their bus due to their so called 'innovation'. Therefore any gains in bandwidth comes with the by-product of latency and that's why it had been proven that Rambus was at best just barely beating sdram pc100 memory in all kinds of benchmarks. If you want more information on Rambus and the truth about it go to www.tomshardware.com and do a search on Rambus. You'll be glad you did.

Has anyone been to www.rambusite.com? (2)

thefixer (461139) | more than 13 years ago | (#124125)

I go there once in awhile for a few laughs and sometimes feel sorry for the 'longs', the ones who are in it for the long run. If you get a chance take a look at this post 'fortune takes on Rambus', here's the link http://www.rambusite.com/cgi-bin/forumcgi/display. cgi?preftemp=temp&page=topic0/sub1919.dat&preftemp =temp Take a look at their response. You'll come to the conclusion that they've been brainwashed by the company's cult-like PR department.

Re: My Story (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 13 years ago | (#124126)

Sure it's a measure of intelligence. Stupid people can't spell very well at all. Erudition has long been associated with education and intelligence, and you can't have erudition without flawless spelling.

Re:Huh? (1)

Zuksh (463222) | more than 13 years ago | (#124127)

where are those "shaeffer famrs"? just out of interest.

Re:Huh? (1)

Zuksh (463222) | more than 13 years ago | (#124128)

ooops... completely cocked up the last post... I meant "schaeffer farms"
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