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Samsung Settles With Rambus In Patent Dispute

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bleak-chip-house dept.

Patents 71

Tackhead writes "After almost a decade of legal wrangling, Samsung has settled with Rambus over the antitrust case, regarding allegations of price-fixing for DDR and SDRAM memory, that was scheduled to proceed this month. (Here is a half-decade-old summary of the twists and turns of the case.) As part of the settlement, Samsung agrees to purchase $200M in Rambus stock, pays $200M in cash to Rambus, plus $25M per quarter for the next 5 years in licensing fees. No immediate word on the implications for Micron or Hynix."

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Missing a detail (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826340)

Hey, where's my check for having to pay for all of this crap in the form of higher memory prices? So we have some elephant mating going on between Samsung and Rambus -- that's cool and all, I'm sure it'll be great for... innovation... or... something, but if there is evidence of price fixing then why is the government not asking for the terms of the settlement as proof of conspiracy to defraud and prosecuting? This isn't "self-regulation" of the market -- this is "let's get out of here before mom gets home".

Re:Missing a detail (5, Interesting)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826462)

Look at it another way.... Perhaps Samsung gets some access to the patents of Rambus. Don't forget Rambus was a serial memory protocol. Everything in the x86 architecture is going serial, be it USB or PCIe. It's simpler to manage for interference. It might lead to better memory technology and if Samsung isn't being a bitch, it might be for the better of all of us.

The only Rambus machine I ever had was a dumpster diven P-IV 1.9GHz with 512Meg RAM. No way to upgrade the RAM because even on eBay RD-Ram was out of price. It's relegated to server duty at a proto-geek friend of mine. However, it was a rock-solid machine.

Perhaps, just perhaps, if Samsung plays this right (and has the patents), memory technology might take a significant advance....

Probably just dreaming... *sigh*

Re:Missing a detail (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826586)

But going forward, will it matter?

I can't imagine rambus being welcomed in any group developing memory standards ever again. They are likely to be frozen out of any cooperative industry projects. You can not take community work product and run to the patent office more than once without people getting wise.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826618)

No.... I don't imagine seeing Rambus being welcomed either. BUT Samsung might. It all depends on their intentions. Personally, I've been buying Samsung gear for a long time because both their memory and harddisk technology have not given me any trouble. I might just have been lucky, but at this point in time I'll buy Samsung most of the time because the price/quality seems okay.

Re:Missing a detail (3, Informative)

zlogic (892404) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826662)

Rambus had a lot of limitations - like needing "terminator" modules in empty slots. Memory had to be installed in pairs, and it generated a lot more heat than SDRAM - even low-end modules required heatsinks.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826686)

Yes, the terminators are just like in SCSI (which is parallel, I know). Technology has advanced, the heat problems, the latency problems and the terminator issue might be resolved with new insights. I remember opening that RD-Ram machine and finding the terminators and wondering what they were. Do remember that SCSI interfaces also needed terminators back in the day, but auto-terminating devices were invented later on.

Re:Missing a detail (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827302)

yea but people used scsi

Re:Missing a detail (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830330)

I just crawled behind my desk to see the old desktop of mine before I realized that this was silly - the AGFA scanner I bought in 2000 has SCSI interface too, stands _on_ the same desk Iwas crawling behind and still works fine. This means that past tense in your post is only half of the truth.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

Avtuunaaja (1249076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827436)

No-one is saying that RDRAM is better than what we have now -- but it contained some individual innovations that have not been utilized as a part of modern memory interfaces. Perhaps finally they will. And frankly, when looking at all the interfaces of a modern computer, the memory bus is the odd one out -- It's about time we switch to a proper differential signaling packet-based point-to-point link there. Perhaps the peace in memory markets will allow the next memory standard to actually modernize the link?

Re:Missing a detail (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828606)

This isn't surprising, since Rambus's only real product is patent-trolling. Their products have always been shitty, so they make up for it by litigating. This company could not die soon enough.

Re:Missing a detail (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826680)

I'm not convinced putting a complex interface chip on every module is a good idea. They tend to result in memory modules that are power hungry (read: a pain to cool) and expensive intel have tried this twice (though the second time they only did it with the server/workstation stuff), first with rambus then fbdimm, both times they backed down (the latest xeons have on-die memory controllers that work with plain ddr3).

Plus every extra stage you add to the path between CPU core and memory adds latency, memory latency is bad if you have code doing significant random access to the ram.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826696)

What about on-die memory controllers for serial RAM? Thought that far? Just saying.... The heat would be then part of the CPU and more centrally dissipated.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826524)

The only people that get any money are the attorneys. And we consumers get soaked a second time to pay them.

Re:Missing a detail (3, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826552)

Hey, where's my check for having to pay for all of this crap in the form of higher memory prices?

Clearly you misunderstood how the system works. You, the consumer, want to buy an item. The price is set by them, the corporations, at whatever they want. They can try and work together to raise the prices to eff you in the ay, making you pay more. If anyone rats someone else out, or if they are merely discovered, they go to court. They end up paying royalties to another corporation, not you. The government is already making money off HAVING the lawsuit in the first place, so they have no desire to investigate any further. Since profits are down from the lawsuits the ones prices naturally go up. And the winner can raise his prices to match.

Thus, the money stays within the corporate circle, and their falace goes further into your rectum.

Welcome to corporate America.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826578)

Clearly you misunderstood how the system works.

Nah, I understand it just fine. I'm just disappointed.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826626)

Yeah I know.

Look at it this way, you could have been born Hutterite.

Re:Missing a detail (1)

fucket (1256188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828866)

falace

Not even close.

Re:Missing a detail (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30826740)

I believe the federal government did sue Samsung for price-fixing and received some $300 million in fines and prison terms for a handful on Samsung execs. Separately, 40 states attorneys general also sued them. So I believe the answer to your question is that 'your check' went directly to your state/federal government (assuming you are U.S.)

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/samsung-dram-settlement.html

Re:Missing a detail (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827080)

...but if there is evidence of price fixing then why is the government not asking for the terms of the settlement as proof of conspiracy to defraud and prosecuting?

I remember how much more RAMBUS cost, maybe the price fixing was in the other direction, in order to drive them into the ground.
Hey, if that's the case I hope in don't have to send anyone more money for RAM I already bought...

The cake is a lie.

It's OK, I eat it with the spoon that is not... Hoping for net negative calories.

Re:Missing a detail (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30828660)

I remember how much more RAMBUS cost, maybe the price fixing was in the other direction, in order to drive them into the ground.

That's precisely what RMBS alleged.

It's also what the prior AC pointed out: The Feds charged Samsung and settled for $300M [lawyersand...ements.com] , and some Samsung suits went to jail.

I loathe RMBS's submarine patent and JEDEC fuckery as much as the next guy, but the DRAMurai were no better. When the judge at the current trial said "Yeah, we pretty much have to let the jury know about the $300M in fines and prison time for Samsung execs", Samsung was forced to settle. It was either that, or risk treble-damages for wilful violation of RMBS's patents.

I'm against those patents, and vehemently against Rambus' attempts to extend the scope of their RDRAM invention to all forms of SDRAM (which I think was ricockulous), and I think they overreached on DDR/DDR2/DDR3 by manipulating the JEDEC committee, but the DRAM makers shot themselves in the foot by trying to price RMBS out of the market in the late 90s.

A pox on all their houses.

Re:Missing a detail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30827210)

... if there is evidence of price fixing then why is the government not asking for the terms of the settlement as proof of conspiracy to defraud and prosecuting?

They did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DRAM_price_fixing

Bah, why couldn't it be lose-lose? (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826414)

RAMBUS *spit* used deception to get a global DRAM standard encumbered by their bullshit submarine patent.

The Dramurai fought back with price fixing and collusion to lock RAMBUS out of the market.

They both suck, and the only outcome I'd be happy with is one where they both lose. Don't ask me to explain it rationally, but I'd have even been happier with one where only RAMBUS loses. I guess I just hate the patent bullshit they pulled and what they tried to do with the DRAM market more than what Samsung et al tried to do.

Rambus is still around?? (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826442)

How do we correct this error?

Re:Rambus is still around?? (3, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828216)

I think the parent was trying to be funny. RDRAM was notoriously prone to errors, and had to use ECC all the time in order to be usable.

So what is the body count? (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826452)

What I want to know is, how much the lawyers made vs how much these companies actually made, what the court costs paid by our tax dollars were, and if there were any winners in all this!!!!!

If this is innovation at work, then I'll be damned.

Re:So what is the body count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30826960)

Rambus: General litigation expenses for the third quarter (09) were $12.0 million.

Re:So what is the body count? (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827514)

and if there were any winners in all this!!!

The lawyers of course. Whoever else wins or loses is academic, the lawyers *always* get their pound of flesh.

Random Access Litigation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30826468)

FYI, because I wasn't up to speed on RAMBUS's history, checking Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] gives me the impression this company is now a RAM-TROLL. Seems to be the sometimes tried-n-true course for companies whose physical-ware becomes obsolete/vapor-ware, so they choose to populate there offices with lawyers instead of engineers.

Re:Random Access Litigation (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828330)

It's been rumbling on since the start of the last decade. For a time, it was as heated as the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit.

Insane (5, Informative)

RelliK (4466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826496)

The patent system needs major reform to prevent things like this from happening. For those who don't know, Rambus is a patent troll. The short summary of this long saga is as follows:

For years it sat on the board of JEDEC, just as the standards for SDRAM and DDR-SDRAM were being set. It made no suggestions but kept notes. JEDEC rules require that all members disclose their patents. Rambus did not disclose that they had related patents pending. Instead, it tweaked the patent applications to make sure that the upcoming standard would definitely infringe. Never mind the fact that it did not invent anything and the DDR RAM was merely an application of existing inventions to RAM production. But Rambus was granted the patents anyway and went off trolling RAM manufacturers.

It is absolutely disgusting that the system allows people who produce nothing to extort those who actually make things. The best line of business is a patent troll. If you win, you win big. If you lose, the shell company has no assets anyway, so there is nothing to lose.

Re:Insane (4, Interesting)

rabtech (223758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826814)

You should dig into the details of the case in depth, more than what you've read on slashdot. RAMBUS did do some shady things, but let us not forget that all the major memory makers plead guilty to price fixing and collusion. Some of their executives went to jail. They paid the largest antitrust fines in the history of the USA. We also have documented proof that they admitted (in regards to RAMBUS) that "all memory will be made this way ... hopefully without the royalties going to RAMBUS".

Perhaps it is likely that RAMBUS was not really welcome on JEDEC because the major memory makers knew their patents applied to the technology and wanted to avoid paying royalties.

Whatever the truth is, RAMBUS is not a patent troll by any means. They do real R&D to develop legit memory technologies, which is legitimately licensed by manufacturers. And in fact without the use of techniques RAMBUS pioneered, we would not have DDR/DDR2/DDR3. They just haven't necessarily played nice or avoided doing shady things. That doesn't make them an IP holding company that snaps up patentns with the goal of trolling larger companies.

Re:Insane (4, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827140)

You should dig into the details of the case in depth, more than what you've read on slashdot. RAMBUS did do some shady things, but let us not forget that all the major memory makers plead guilty to price fixing and collusion. Some of their executives went to jail.

No, I don't forget what assholes the DRAM manufacturers were, but it doesn't change one bit what Rambus did either and the OP's summary of rambus' actions is completely correct.

Perhaps it is likely that RAMBUS was not really welcome on JEDEC because the major memory makers knew their patents applied to the technology and wanted to avoid paying royalties.

They didn't apply until rambus changed them in the middle of the JEDEC discussions. "Welcome" or not they were there and did not disclose their patents as required. You'd think that if rambus was on the level and wanted to make sure their royalties were paid, they would have mentioned their patents. But then jedec might not have used that technology, and what good would that do rambus? "Perhaps" (in the same sense as "I imagine") the memory makers knew about the patent; it's 100% certain that rambus did and yet said nothing.

Whatever the truth is, RAMBUS is not a patent troll by any means. They do real R&D to develop legit memory technologies, which is legitimately licensed by manufacturers. And in fact without the use of techniques RAMBUS pioneered, we would not have DDR/DDR2/DDR3.

Oh PLEASE. Chip-to-chip interfaces were already using both edges of the clock and it was obvious DRAM was heading the same way, the "techniques" for doing so were already well established. If not for rambus, we'd still have DDR and successors, because that's what jedec was going for despite rambus' contribution to the committee, which was nothing.

Rambus may not be a perfect example of a patent troll who just buys up other patents, but their behavior of sitting quietly on their patents until years later when products that violate them are ubiquitous then suddenly leaping up and crying foul matches the rest. "Patent submariner" is almost as bad as "patent troll" to me. They're both flagrant abuses of the patent system.

They didn't do as much quality R&D as you may think they did, either. It was Intel who actually did most of the work on figuring out how to make rdram actually work.

Then the memory makers showed they could be even bigger assholes, and got their just deserts. Again, why this should improve my opinion of rambus, I don't know, because it doesn't change anything they did.

Re:Insane (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829078)

The problem is that everything seems obvious in hindsight. If they were entirely useless, why are companies like Nintendo licensing their memory technology? SCOTUS already ruled that a patent holder cannot sue 3rd party users of a technology for infringement committed by an upstream supplier, so there is no need to license it to protect yourself from lawsuits. Perhaps the technology offers something of value; Nintendo isn't the only one either.

Again, I am not saying RAMBUS' hands are entirely clean here - we know they aren't. But the core issue, I think, is that an American company developed memory technology that foreign corporations desperately wanted to avoid paying royalties for and they colluded to try to bankrupt RAMBUS to increase profits (and screw consumers).

I can just imagine if I patented a legitimate invention that the RAMBUS case would give companies like Samsung the idea that they can just bankrupt me, rather than pay royalties. We've seen it happen many times before, why not here?

RDRAM isn't DDR (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30833884)

The problem is that everything seems obvious in hindsight. If they were entirely useless, why are companies like Nintendo licensing their memory technology?If they were entirely useless, why are companies like Nintendo licensing their memory technology? SCOTUS already ruled that a patent holder cannot sue 3rd party users of a technology for infringement committed by an upstream supplier, so there is no need to license it to protect yourself from lawsuits. Perhaps the technology offers something of value; Nintendo isn't the only one either.

Like I said, RDRAM is decent in embedded apps. This is because it gets relatively high performance for a small number of traces, which is a good tradeoff for a game console but not a PC. And the reason Nintendo is getting a license -- which as you point out would be irrelevant if they were only buying rdram chips -- is because it includes the necessary specs for designing the channel and the IP for the memory controller.

What's "obvious in hindsight" is that RDRAM was a bad choice for the pc industry, and Intel made a mistake by supporting it which they regretted.

But the core issue, I think, is that an American company developed memory technology that foreign corporations desperately wanted to avoid paying royalties for and they colluded to try to bankrupt RAMBUS to increase profits (and screw consumers).

Okay, sorry, it seems you're confused about what Rambus actually invented versus what they had been trying to collect royalties on. There are two technologies in play here: RDRAM and DDR.

Rambus developed RDRAM technology; it is 100% their invention. Nobody ever failed to pay Rambus royalties for this technology. And it was in large part because RDRAM was encumbered by patents and royalty fees that the JEDEC committee decided not to use it. However companies that did make RDRAM, like Samsung, paid them the appropriate royalties.

Rambus did not invent DDR, and they especially did not develop it into a working technology. What Rambus did is listen at the JEDEC meetings as they discussed the new standard, and based on those notes submitted patents that covered exactly what JEDEC was talking about. The technology had already been invented when Rambus got their patent on it, and Rambus did none of the inventing.

The reason Rambus did not receive any royalties for DDR at first was because none of the memory makers knew that Rambus had patents on it. Developing an open, royalty-free memory standard was the whole point of JEDEC, and that's what they thought they were doing while Rambus snuck off and patented the technology without telling any members of JEDEC. If they had informed the committee, then the committee never would have decided on DDR!

Only much later, once it was clear that DDR was going to dominate and that RDRAM was a dead end in the market, did Rambus suddenly reveal their patents and start demanding royalties from the memory makers. This is classic patent troll behavior -- wait until the product implementing the patent is ubiquitous, and the people who unwittingly violated it can't change in any reasonable fashion, then spring it on them and demand extortionate royalties.

That's when the memory makers fought back to try to avoid paying royalties on a technology they never would have used if they thought it had royalties. That's also when they proved themselves to be even bigger assholes than RAMBUS by colluding and price fixing.

I hope that explanation helps. The thing rambus actually invented is not the thing they're receiving royalties for today. However because our patent system is so fucked, by virtue of filing a patent based on what other people were discussing, they get the royalties for it.

I can just imagine if I patented a legitimate invention that the RAMBUS case would give companies like Samsung the idea that they can just bankrupt me, rather than pay royalties.

If you patent something that someone else legitimately invented and then start demanding royalties from them, then I would hope you go bankrupt. But as we can see, this is not how things always play out. The message of the rambus case is clear: Patents matter, inventions don't.

Re:Insane (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30874868)

Well my suggestion to JEDEC is that next time, they have anyone who will sit in sign a binding contract that states they cannot sue anyone for patents they don't disclose during the process.

So either Rambus could have disclosed immediately or they could never have sued. Either way that stops the submarine.

Re:Insane (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827146)

From the press release: "Rambus is one of the world's premier technology licensing companies." It seems to me that even they see themselves as a licensing company, not an R&D company. They did develop stuff in the past, but it doesn't look like they plan on doing much in the future.

I think my hatred and position on this matter can be summed up quite easily: I dislike pricefixers, but I really hate people who abuse the standards systems. And Rambus definitely abused the standards system - they sat on the JEDEC board, full well knowing that the standards being developed were going to infringe on their patents. It is unfortunate that there isn't any legal action that can be taken against them on this matter - I'd love to see them crash and burn for this.

Re:Insane (1, Interesting)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826828)

There are two sides to every story. The Rambus side is that everyone else (Micron, Hynix, Infineon, etc.) tried to get Rambus to disclose its patent-pending stuff in JEDEC so they could all say it was public-domain and use it royalty-free. There's the infamous bad-faith memo [rambus.org] [1] with the quote from the Infineon guy (pg 5 in the linked PDF): "One day all computers will (have to) be built like this, hopefully without royalties going to Rambus."

To me, that's like the definition of "in bad faith." I'm sure at some point Rambus acted in bad faith too, but don't make this out like it's a cut and dried patent troll case. As far as I'm concerned, Rambus invented the memory in your computer about 20 years ago and only now is turning a profit on their investment.

[1] I don't have a better source for this other than the obviously-biased rambus.org, but this quote is pretty well known and has been reproduced in many other publications on the Internet. Do a quick Google search.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827238)

"RAMBUS is not a memory, it is a memory system including controller, bus, interface, protocol and memory. One day all computers will (have to) be built like this, hopefully without royalties going to Rambus."

"Like this" to me refers to the very generic description of a fully integrated (in the sense of 'designed together' not 'integrated on a piece of silicon) memory system. A straightforward statement on the direction the industry was going. That's very different from saying "all computers will have to use rambus technology, hopefully without paying rambus royalties." Thinking in terms of a memory system is not a patentable invention.

As far as I'm concerned, Rambus invented the memory in your computer about 20 years ago and only now is turning a profit on their investment.

DRAM was already headed in the direction of DDR regardless of what rambus did -- double pumping data was so obvious all the CPU makers were already doing it.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing rambus invented was a terrible memory for PCs (though decent for embedded apps) that they failed to ram down the industry's throat, and only now are they being payed back for the memory makers' retribution in the form of illegal business practices.

Re:Insane (1, Insightful)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828854)

The motivation of the patent system is to encourage people to do research and develop products now, today that will benefit the consumer, rather than "at some point later". That the industry was "already headed in the direction of DDR regardless of what rambus did" is just an anecdote about how technology evolves. Rambus made it evolve faster under the assumption that they could get some money by licensing it, but they got nothing (until now). Without the promise of patents and license agreements, maybe Rambus doesn't even bother to take their ideas to production. No other manufacturer has any incentive to move from EDO DRAM to synchronous DRAM, and maybe DDR takes 10 years longer to reach the consumer. This is obviously all hypothetical, of course, but the point is, Rambus made the industry change sooner, rather than later.

It's called competition, and Rambus was a perfect example of it in action. Then a bunch of greedy corporations ruined it, admitted to doing so, and yet we still have people like you on Slashdot defending them. I don't get it.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829008)

The motivation of the patent system is to encourage people to do research and develop products now, today that will benefit the consumer, rather than "at some point later". That the industry was "already headed in the direction of DDR regardless of what rambus did" is just an anecdote about how technology evolves.

No, it's the fact of the situation that the industry was headed there at the time of rambus' participation in jedec, without rambus' input. Because they didn't give any.

RAMBUS' technology, as described by their patents, had no impact on the JEDEC standards because they did not disclose these patents to the committee in violation of the rules. They were able to abuse a standards committee by tweaking their patents to cover exactly what a standards body was already deciding upon. These facts are not in dispute, the only thing that saves rambus is that these rules were not legally binding. So just like Microsoft, Rambus got to abuse a standards body with no repercussions. That doesn't mean they didn't do anything wrong.

Rambus made it evolve faster under the assumption that they could get some money by licensing it, but they got nothing (until now).

No they didn't, they didn't evolve anything but their own proprietary memory standard. They didn't invent SDR or DDR memory. Or they did invent DDR, but many other people in the industry did too because it's so obvious and they didn't think to patent it. What RAMBUS tried to do was not advance the state of the art in industry. What they tried to do was charge extortionate license fees for DDR, such that their more expensive yet lower performing memory technology would be end up being the cheaper choice.

No other manufacturer has any incentive to move from EDO DRAM to synchronous DRAM, and maybe DDR takes 10 years longer to reach the consumer. This is obviously all hypothetical, of course, but the point is, Rambus made the industry change sooner, rather than later.

Please! The industry was already switching to SDRAM, and already agreeing on the DDR standard, while RAMBUS was still going around with nothing more than a powerpoint slide about how awesome their memory would be if someone actually manufactured it! All the memory manufacturers have a strong incentive to move to faster memory technologies as fast as they are economically feasible, which is how we got EDO DRAM in the first place. Then for the eight years after DDR that RDRAM was of no import, we still got DDR2 and DDR3. Trust me, just like CPU vendors have every incentive to improve performance as fast as they can, memory makers do as well though they also have a strong drive towards increasing density.

This is obviously all hypothetical, of course, but the point is, Rambus made the industry change sooner, rather than later.

"Hypothetical" as in "might have been what happened, if you don't know otherwise".

It's called competition, and Rambus was a perfect example of it in action.

Rambus is a horrible example of "competition". An underperforming and overpriced memory technology that the only way they could try to get the market to move in their direction was by IP extortion is hardly competition at its best. Intel went with rdram because they liked its proprietary nature and it fit their marketing-over-performance architecture. That decision cost them severely and handed AMD a huge market advantage for several years.

Then a bunch of greedy corporations ruined it, admitted to doing so, and yet we still have people like you on Slashdot defending them. I don't get it.

Dude, read some of my other comments in this story. I'm not defending the dram makers for their anti-competitive business practices. To repeat myself, they're a bunch of assholes, without a doubt, who responded to rambus' submarine patent ploy by colluding to lock rambus out of the industry. Rambus is guilty of their own bad behavior too, though, and this "oh they invented the memory technology you're using today" bullshit is exactly that. They didn't do shit to help the industry. They only failed to lock it into a proprietary technology.

Re:Insane (2, Interesting)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829226)

I started typing up a huge line-by-line response to this and it's pointless. Unless you can prove you were at the JEDEC meetings in the 90s (I wasn't), neither of us knows what really went on. Rambus surely did sell some crappy memory, but that wasn't the point - the point of their company was to license their tech to real memory manufacturers because it was good and it was at least a year (probably more like 3 in terms of what was needed to actually implement it) ahead of anyone else. If you're saying that there is no value in that because someone else would have thought of it later, then we should just agree to disagree.

Re:Insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831414)

He isn't saying "that there is no value in that because someone else would have thought of it later", if I am actually reading him correctly (and if I am, it means your reading comprehension is bad).

What he is saying, is that everyone else ALREADY CURRENTLY THOUGHT OF IT and were IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING IT DONE AND OUT THERE. And that Rambus had NO NOTICABLE EFFECT ON THE ADVANCEMENT OF MEMORY TECHNOLOGY.

Yes I am yelling because your reading comprehension is terrible.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30833210)

I started typing up a huge line-by-line response to this and it's pointless. Unless you can prove you were at the JEDEC meetings in the 90s (I wasn't), neither of us knows what really went on.

Have you at least been following the case for all these years? Rhetorical question, obviously not. The issues I'm informing you of involving the JEDEC meetings all came out in the lawsuits years ago. See Infineon vs rambus. Rambus never denied that they failed to disclose that they were filing patents related to the memory technology JEDEC was considering, while they were considering it. In the trial it was ruled that rambus had acted in bad faith at JEDEC by concealing their patents, but the appeals court overturned the verdict on the basis that the JEDEC rules were not legally binding and so rambus' bad-faith actions could not constitute fraud.

That this is all apparently new info, and sounds like hearsay to you, is the reason why it's pointless for you to do a line-by-line rebuttal.

Rambus surely did sell some crappy memory, but that wasn't the point - the point of their company was to license their tech to real memory manufacturers because it was good and it was at least a year (probably more like 3 in terms of what was needed to actually implement it) ahead of anyone else.

Okay first rambus never sold memory because they never had any manufacturing, they only sold their technology to memory makers like samsung.

Second, yes they were ahead with their RDRAM technology, but so what? RDRAM was a bad choice for the industry compared to DDR, and Rambus was not any farther ahead on DDR development despite their submarine patent because they weren't developing it. They wanted the industry to switch to RDRAM, not DDR, and they are quite different technologies.

If you're saying that there is no value in that because someone else would have thought of it later, then we should just agree to disagree.

Are you even reading what I'm writing? I don't know how many times I can tell you that everyone had already thought of SDR and DDR. The thing rambus invented, RDRAM, was crap so who cares if nobody thought of it? There may be a time for serial memory technology, but that time still has yet to arrive.

Rambus did nothing for the industry. They tried their damnedest to harm it, and succeeded. This is what I'm saying. Try to understand what actually happened, and then we can agree or disagree.

Re:Insane (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30834150)

I followed the case briefly. Rambus allowed JEDEC members to see what they were doing under NDA years before anyone at JEDEC mentioned it. So despite your repeated assertion that everyone else had "already thought" of SDR and DDR, no one knows if that is true or not because the NDAs are, well NDAs. That is where we can just stop the arguing.

Re:Insane (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30834330)

I followed the case briefly. Rambus allowed JEDEC members to see what they were doing under NDA years before anyone at JEDEC mentioned it.

Holy shit. The thing they revealed under NDA was their RDRAM technology, NOT DDR! Do you understand that these are not even close to the same things?!

So despite your repeated assertion that everyone else had "already thought" of SDR and DDR, no one knows if that is true or not because the NDAs are, well NDAs.

Dude those NDAs are long expired, and information about what was revealed under them has also been revealed in court and in public. It's not an assertion that the technology they were pushing was RDRAM not DDR, it's an established fact! The PDF you yourself linked even shows this, FFS!

That is where we can just stop the arguing.

Yeah, we can stop arguing at the point where you reveal you know nothing about the case, and think we're pitting your imagination of what might have happened versus mine. I refuse to continue talking with someone who thinks deliberate ignorance is a position of rhetorical strength.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30834548)

The thing they revealed under NDA was their RDRAM technology, NOT DDR!

What the fuck? RDRAM IS DDR! RDRAM used both edge of the clock to transfer data, which is the definition of DDR! Your whole post makes no sense because while you seem to know everything about the case, you know nothing about the actual technology!

Re:Insane (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30834880)

What the fuck? RDRAM IS DDR! RDRAM used both edge of the clock to transfer data, which is the definition of DDR!

LOL, seriously? You think "uses both edge of the clock" is the definition of DDR [wikipedia.org] , and that means RDRAM [wikipedia.org] "is" DDR? Who the hell told you that? I'm guessing nobody, and this is just your imagination posing as an informed argument again.

No, fool, DDR is "defined" as an entire specification for a memory technology based on SDRAM that encompasses a hell of a lot more than just how many data beats per clock pulse there are, and is very different than RDRAM. DDR uses a parallel multi-drop bus interface with bus mastering chip selects, RDRAM uses a serial inline interface

Just using both edges of the clock does not make something "DDR". The idea of using both edges to increase data speeds while alleviating pressure on the clock lines was old and obvious already. By your definition, the EV6 front side bus used by the K7 and the Alpha 21264 is the same as 'DDR'. LOL.

Your whole post makes no sense because while you seem to know everything about the case, you know nothing about the actual technology!

You know nothing about the technology or the case yet you keep pretending you do and it's pathetic.

Re:Insane (2, Informative)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30836640)

Wrong. Did you even read the wikipedia page you linked to? "DDR ... is a class of memory integrated circuits used in computers." JESD79 is the complete JEDEC DRAM specification that employs the DDR concept to DRAM. RDRAM employed it too, years earlier than JESD79. Rambus never claimed that JESD79 was a verbatim rip-off of RDRAM, just that it used a significant amount of tech from RDRAM.

Re:Insane (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30836910)

Did you read past the first fucking line of the WP page, or would that go against your philosophy of not actually learning what you're talking about? Did you notice how nowhere on that page does it suggest that any memory that uses a double-pumped buss is "DDR", and how every specific instance of a DDR memory is one of the DDR SDRAM specs and how no part of the description other than being double-pumped applies to RDRAM? LOL of course you didn't.

Yes it's a "class" as in there are multiple specs. I.e. DDR, DDR2 and DDR3. Every instance of a member of the "class" of DDR memory is a specific instance DDR SDRAM spec JESD79. NOT RDRAM. The WP page makes this explicit by the 5th paragraph if you can be bothered to read that far.

And if you're still confused and insist that DDR can mean nothing more than "double pumped" even though the WP page says otherwise, let me make it clear: In EVERY CASE in my posts, TFA, and the lawsuits between Rambus, the FTC, and the various memory makers, "DDR" refers to the specific memory implementation of JESD79. Got it?

Rambus never claimed that JESD79 was a verbatim rip-off of RDRAM, just that it used a significant amount of tech from RDRAM.

Why are you still making shit up about a case you know nothing about?! Rambus didn't and couldn't patent "the concept of using both edges of the clock" which as much similarity as exists between DDR and RDRAM. They never claimed that DDR ripped-off RDRAM, because it doesn't. They claimed to have separate patents on technologies implemented in DDR. Do you understand?

Man you are just a big bucket of deliberate ignorance. To express a sentiment I'm sure was shared by many of your teachers and professors: "Why the fuck did I waste my time trying to educate this moron?"

HAND.

Re:Insane (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30837044)

They never claimed that DDR ripped-off RDRAM, because it doesn't. They claimed to have separate patents on technologies implemented in DDR. Do you understand?

No, I don't understand. Who decided that The JEDEC DDR SDRAM Specification doesn't rip off RDRAM - you? As far as I know, the courts first said it didn't, then they overturned that, and it went back and forth about 10 times until the late 2000s when Rambus started winning court cases.

Re:Insane (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30837158)

Wait, I think we agreed on something. My post:

Rambus never claimed that JESD79 was a verbatim rip-off of RDRAM, just that it used a significant amount of tech from RDRAM.

Your post:

They never claimed that DDR ripped-off RDRAM, because it doesn't. They claimed to have separate patents on technologies implemented in DDR. Do you understand?

So yes, I do understand, since we both said the exact same thing. DDR SDRAM is not RDRAM and it plenty different, but Rambus says that it still uses their tech. What is the problem?

Re:Insane (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30837506)

No, I don't understand. Who decided that The JEDEC DDR SDRAM Specification doesn't rip off RDRAM - you?

No, like I just said RAMBUS decided that. Not every patent RAMBUS holds is an RDRAM patent. I hope that is simple enough to understand.

As far as I know

You mean, of course, as far as your imagination takes you in a swirling void of ignorance.

until the late 2000s when Rambus started winning court cases.

Yeah well on the off chance if you get the sudden and unfamiliar urge to educate yourself, maybe you could start by reading up [wikipedia.org] on what's actually been happening in reality rather than your imagination. Upshot for the lazy ignoramous: They've been winning the anti-trust suits (both the ones against them and against memory makers) but doing very poorly on the patent front.

Re:Insane (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30837908)

I'm trying to find the actual patent decision briefs (the original documents), but I'm having trouble doing so. I want to read for example why the court dismissed the patents in the suit against Nvidia in Nov 2009 (without assuming that prior art was the real reason or whatnot). Rambus had one suit dismissed because they shredded some documents and the decision hinged on that as a show of bad faith (which I acknowledged Rambus did back in my very first post), not on the actual patents themselves. All the online articles are very thin on details.

Re:Insane (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30842598)

Soooo... yea. Patent reform.

Litigation Access Memory (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826614)

FYI, meselfs was not up to date on the litigation history of RAMBUS [wikipedia.org] , but it seems that the right of passage for companies whose products become vapor/obsolete-ware is to fire the engineers and hire the lawyers. Go DDRTROLLRAM (tm)(c) 2010 RAMBUS Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Just great, anal sex anyone? (-1, Flamebait)

mikeiver1 (1630021) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826622)

So let me get this right, RAMBUS has a higher priced, poorer performing product. They get in bed with Intel and try and ram (no pun intended) this shit down our throats along with ridiculous license fees for what is a dubious technology at best. Now Samsung, those caves in after ten years! I wonder who is going to be getting the butt sex on this one, AGAIN? If you failed to guess, go to the corner, put on your butt sex dunce hat, and bend over the stool! We the consumer are going to pay for this shit again. Most of these companies have figured it out, from gas to semiconductor manufacturers, to HMO and insurance companies. Jack the rates when you get hit with fees or just want to bump your bottom line. It pisses me off that now my money is going to be going into the pockets of RAMBUS each time I buy RAM. FUCK RAMBUS AND FUCK SAMSUNG FOR CAVING!

Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826708)

If you add up Samsung's payout on this deal, it's damn close to a billion US Dollars. Wow, it took some time, but I guess that patent trolling paid off for Rambus after all. They'd never raise that kind of money the old-fashioned way, by making products that people willingly buy.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30826884)

Will do nice things for the bottom line... After Hours: 24.07 +2.94 (13.91%) Jan 19, 7:18PM EST

General litigation expenses for the third quarter (09) were $12.0 million.

Net loss for the third quarter of 2009 was $27.5 million as compared to a net loss of $24.0 million in the second quarter of 2009 and a net loss of $30.9 million (adjusted for adoption of the FASB staff position) in the third quarter of 2008.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (1, Informative)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826978)

Rambus invented the memory technology in your computer nearly 20 years ago and tried to sell it, but was not able to make any money on it because bigger memory manufacturers a) ripped off their technology and incorporated it into SDRAM and DDR without giving Rambus anything for developing the ideas and technology, and then b) sold SDRAM and DDR below cost for years to prevent anyone from adopting Rambus's own products.

This is an example of the patent and anti-trust system *working as designed*, and all anyone on Slashdot can do is myopically look at Rambus as a patent troll. See this post [slashdot.org] for a citation.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (2, Informative)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827376)

You do realize it is bad form to either cite yourself for support, or to cite one party in a fight as an authoritative source? You managed to do both. Congratulations.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828770)

I don't really care about form. a) I'm just too lazy to type the exact same thing twice, and b) in the other post, I acknowledged the bias in the hosting website (if you had bothered to read it). And besides, that PDF was an original document, not something made up by the obviously-biased website. A document being hosted on a biased website doesn't make the document itself biased.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827402)

Troll? Really? Someone from Rambus must have gotten mod points. As far as I can tell, Rambus just got one billion dollars from litigating a situation that arose because they sat on patents that they knew were going to be infringed by the new standards being developed. And they knew about the new standards being developed because they sat on the standards board. As for their products, they sucked. No one outside of stupidly rich people, or people with very specific needs who were willing to deal with the Rambus memory drawbacks, bought their crap.

To me, that's the definition of a patent troll: you failed in the market place because you sold an inferior product, but struck gold in litigation based on deceit.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828506)

Troll? Really? Someone from Rambus must have gotten mod points. As far as I can tell, Rambus just got one billion dollars from litigating a situation that arose because they sat on patents that they knew were going to be infringed by the new standards being developed. And they knew about the new standards being developed because they sat on the standards board. As for their products, they sucked. No one outside of stupidly rich people, or people with very specific needs who were willing to deal with the Rambus memory drawbacks, bought their crap.

Actually, RDRAM has been used quite extensively. It may not be used anymore in PCs, but there was 32MB of RDRAM in the Sony Playstation2, and there's 256MB of XDR-RDRAM in the PlayStation3 (along with 256MB of GDDR3...). And last I checked, the former could be had quite easily and cheaply (under $100) and the latter makes a great blu-ray player.

So their memory may suck, but they're used in two easily available products today.

Re:Really? A *Billion Dollars* for Rambus? Fuuuu! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30834412)

So their memory may suck, but they're used in two easily available products today.

Well it only sucks for mainstream general-purpose computing.

For embedded applications, RDRAM is actually quite nice, because it gets good performance with a small number of motherboard traces, and in something like a game console having fewer traces and thus maybe being able to have fewer layers on your mobo makes a big difference.

The savings in traces doesn't make much difference in a PC, so the tradeoff there isn't worth it.

Haha (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826992)

Of course, with this settlement now, I'm sure Samsung will claim that it did anything wrong. $900 million worth of nothing wrong, to be more precise.

This looks like one of those cases were they are really saying, "Yeah, we screwed you, but please please please take this money so a court doesn't award you nearly as much AND open us up to further suits by consumers or other companies we screwed, since open discovery and an official finding that we did what we did would be very, very bad for us, and will delay the money you will get." So shocking.

Shakes head (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827258)

This is so sad. Samsung should have *buried* Rambus for their invalid submarine patent.

And then dug them up and nailed them to a very tall building as a warning for other companies that might try making a buck on IP litigation instead of actually having a relevant product.

documenting it on swpat.org (0, Troll)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827678)

To build the case for excluding software from patentability, it's important to document the fact that antitrust doesn't offer a solution. If someone can help document this, here's the page on the public swpat.org documentation wiki:

Thanks.

Another company people seem to love to hate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30829506)

RAMBUS. Along with SCO and Microsoft! Seems that any company that tries to protect their market by underhanded methods ends up putting themselves on most people hate lists.

Including mine. Please go the way of SCO.

More proof the world has gone insane (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830704)

Most of Rambus' SDRAM and DDR patents were lifted from the early SDRAM discussions at JEDEC without disclosure as required by JEDEC. They then made a monopolistic deal with Intel to try to shove their overpriced flaky RAM down consumer's throats. Meanwhile, they tried to sue Micron, Infineon, and Hyundai for royalties, in some cases on their own IP. By the time RAMBUS and Intel actually got RDRAM to perform decently, DDR was coming out with inherently cheaper prices, helped by the fact that the manufacturers actually designed their memory for manufacturing. Any supposed 'collusion' only slightly hastened the inevitable.

Re:More proof the world has gone insane (1)

deaddeng (63515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866534)

Multiple court rulings since 2000 say you have this reversed, and that is was the memory makers who tried to use a standards setting organization (JEDEC) to capture Rambus intellectual property without paying for it. They conspired to drive RDRAM from the marketplace, then colluded to jack up prices on SDRAM and early DDR. They were convicted in the largest antitrust case ever brought by the US Department of Justice and executives from Samsung, Micron and other companies went to prison while the companies paid almost a billion dollars in fines. If you want to be mad at someone, take a look at all of the tech sites that were on the memory makers payroll to spread anti-Rambus FUD for years. Also consider that it has taken Rambus almost a decade of court battles to finally perhaps find justice, or at least get paid.

Re:More proof the world has gone insane (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30906032)

You've obviously drank the kool-aide. Did you get all that directly from Rambus.org? Sure looks like it. First off, their record in court has been mixed at best, and while there have been multiple settlements, a settlement is not the same thing as a win, and the settlements would not likely have occurred if not for the illegal willful destruction of evidence. Second, if they are so undeniably the innocent victim, why did they destroy evidence? It was a travesty of justice that just the Micron lawsuit was dismissed in light of the willful destruction of evidence by Rambus, as that evidence was just as relevant to the other cases.

Without a doubt, they participated in bad faith in JDEC, they willfully and illegally destroyed evidence contrary to their rewriting of history, and they tried to shove RDRAM down our throats at exorbitant prices. The 600 Mhz RDRAM was complete crap, and the 800 Mhz was not all that much better. There is no doubt in my mind that we have been much better off with DDR from both a performance and price perspective, despite alleged price fixing.

Some of us have been following this case from the beginning, and don't merely swallow the latest crap being spewed.

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