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Rambus Could Reap Millions In Patent Settlements

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the what-innovation-looks-like-now dept.

Patents 82

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

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82 comments

World Cup of data sorting (0, Offtopic)

the_other_one (178565) | about 4 years ago | (#33053342)

How many parallel predicting octopuses were required to predict their victory?

Re:World Cup of data sorting (0, Offtopic)

the_other_one (178565) | about 4 years ago | (#33053386)

Damn, 1 min to login and posted to following story. This just missed a first post on the previous story. The scary thing is that Rambus could buy lots of live calamari to predict the future of the memory industry.

Re:World Cup of data sorting (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33053462)

How many parallel predicting octopuses were required to predict their victory?

You mean "predictopi".

Octopi/octopuses (2, Informative)

tebee (1280900) | about 4 years ago | (#33053772)

No he doesn't, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk [youtube.com] - and as an added bonus you get a very nice piece of thinking man's crumpet as well.

Re:Octopi/octopuses (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33054616)

No he doesn't, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk [youtube.com] - and as an added bonus you get a very nice piece of thinking man's crumpet as well.

"Ah say, ah say, it's a JOKE, son!" -- Foghorn Leghorn

Re:Octopi/octopuses (1)

tebee (1280900) | about 4 years ago | (#33054812)

Yes I realize this, but I was just using it as an excuse to post a link to a video of a really cute girl - something for all those Slashdoters in their proverbial mum's basement - sadly I'm old enough to have my own basement now.......

Re:Octopi/octopuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33054860)

Yes I realize this, but I was just using it as an excuse to post a link to a video of a really cute girl - something for all those Slashdoters in their proverbial mum's basement - sadly I'm old enough to have my own basement now.......

Thanks for rubbing our noses in our dismal mating prospects and inability to support ourselves you miserable old fart.

Turing word: ceding
In a sentence: I hope your hairline is receding you miserable old fart.

Re:Octopi/octopuses (2, Informative)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33056808)

Semi cute I would give you. Cute I MIGHT give you. Though really cute I have to say I must callout as bullshit.

Re:Octopi/octopuses (1)

alvinrod (889928) | about 4 years ago | (#33063580)

Other than beauty being in the eye of the beholder (Or beer-holder if you prefer), she's pretty cute for a dictionary editor.

Re:Octopi/octopuses (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33063660)

Ok. But without that qualifier ("for a dictionary editor.") we know that really cute is some serious reaching.

and all the compsci want to know (-1, Offtopic)

v1 (525388) | about 4 years ago | (#33053366)

what algorithm were they using? And how were they load balancing? You'd almost have to be doing a bucket sort initially? And there was no detail whatsoever as to the data being sorted. Were they just a crapton of 64 bit words, sentences, database records, what was the data being sorted? I can sort a petabyte in O(1) time if it consists of two records each 1/2pb in size. None of what they've said means anything without getting into the context.

Re:and all the compsci want to know (1, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | about 4 years ago | (#33053452)

Ah! I see you have joined me in redundancy by hitting the /. high speed publishing trap.

Re:and all the compsci want to know (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33053454)

what algorithm were they using? And how were they load balancing? You'd almost have to be doing a bucket sort initially? And there was no detail whatsoever as to the data being sorted. Were they just a crapton of 64 bit words, sentences, database records, what was the data being sorted? I can sort a petabyte in O(1) time if it consists of two records each 1/2pb in size. None of what they've said means anything without getting into the context.

Oh, sorry ... this is abuse. Argument is down the hall.

Re:and all the compsci want to know (2, Funny)

the_other_one (178565) | about 4 years ago | (#33053508)

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

Re:and all the compsci want to know (5, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#33054944)

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

Prison.

Re:and all the compsci want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33077056)

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

Prison.

Being modded +5 Informative for that is damn near as funny as your comment.

Re:and all the compsci want to know (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053486)

what algorithm were they using? And how were they load balancing? You'd almost have to be doing a bucket sort initially? And there was no detail whatsoever as to the data being sorted. Were they just a crapton of 64 bit words, sentences, database records, what was the data being sorted? I can sort a petabyte in O(1) time if it consists of two records each 1/2pb in size. None of what they've said means anything without getting into the context.

what kind of niggerface* would actually mod this off-topic?


*no offense to black people is intended. ugly stupid actions should be described by ugly words.

"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053404)

No. NO. Rambus is an IP troll, at best they specify how chips talk to each other on a motherboard. Smarter people then design chips.

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33053442)

No. NO. Rambus is an IP troll, at best they specify how chips talk to each other on a motherboard. Smarter people then design chips.

Yeah. Rambus has a lot in common with SCO ... parasitic beasts at best.

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (1)

dpastern (1077461) | about 4 years ago | (#33066858)

Then why does the fucked up US legal system allow them to still be a patent troll...everyone knows what they are. Everyone knows what they are doing. Surely, someone in your pathetic government and jurisprudence system has a backbone?

Dave

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33076992)

Then why does the fucked up US legal system allow them to still be a patent troll...everyone knows what they are. Everyone knows what they are doing. Surely, someone in your pathetic government and jurisprudence system has a backbone?

Dave

We try to respect the legal rights of everyone, even complete assholes. Can your pathetic legal system make the same claim?

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (1)

dpastern (1077461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33080972)

It certainly doesn't support obvious frivolous claims like the litigious system the US has. Sorry, but patent trolls should have no legal rights. They waste the courts time and money, when it could be far better used on more serious cases. Period.

And yes, your government is pathetic. I don't give a shit if you're a patriotic American, if you believe your government is good, you're either an idiot, mentally incapable or just so blind to your countries ills, it's a worry. I see many Americans with the same attitude as yours - you simply can't handle criticism of your country, even when it's deserved. You believe that your country is the best in the world, bar none, which is a load of BS. Your country is only the best in the world when it comes to wars, and looking after the rich. Oh, and making sure your RIAA and MPAA are protected, despite both being illegal monopolies.

Dave

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053862)

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

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

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 4 years ago | (#33054066)

Nope, sorry, they are patent trolls. If you read the history [wikipedia.org] of their involvement with JEDEC, they basically fucked EVERYBODY, including us consumers, by sitting in on the SDRAM meetings and secretly patenting everything that wasn't nailed down.

So while they may have invented a few cool things their actions at JEDEC were total patent trolling and any patents that arose from those meetings seriously needs to get tossed out. Instead what will happen is you Mr Anon Coward, Me, and everybody else will pay more for memory of ANY kind, be it for motherboards, GPUs, or frankly just about anything using modern memory tech, because those trolls were allowed to steal everything that wasn't nailed down. So unless some completely new memory tech comes down the pipe (and even then as broad as the patents are you might nor even escape then) we will ALL be paying a "RAMBUS tax" on anything that has memory for the next 20+ years. What we need is a company like IBM or Google to come along and buy them out and offer their patents with RAND pricing, instead of allowing these trolls to continue to exist.

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33054412)

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

No, the fact they are now into LED lighting [rambus.com] skews them towards money hungry jewclub.

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33055112)

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

No, the fact they are now into LED lighting [rambus.com] skews them towards money hungry jewclub.

And i suppose that you are some kind of Germanic super-engineer who's been in hiding since the war ended in 1945?

Re:"a designer of semiconductor chips" ???? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33056950)

They are comming back [ironsky.net] .

patent troll (4, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | about 4 years ago | (#33053882)

Rambus is one company that needs to be nuked from orbit while all of their lawyers and officers are locked in the building.

Re:patent troll (2, Insightful)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about 4 years ago | (#33055160)

Can we add in the judge from Marshall Texas and all the parents of the shell companies setup there? That would take out most of the patent trolls and their favorite judge in one swoop :D

To keep up (3, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 4 years ago | (#33053422)

ATI is going to want to get sued in about six months for $500 million.

Re:To keep up (3, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 4 years ago | (#33053428)

ATI is going to want to get sued in about six months for $500 million.

Maybe they'll make the mistake of suing IBM.

Rambus... (5, Insightful)

Sol Rosinberg (586029) | about 4 years ago | (#33053438)

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

Re:Rambus... (5, Informative)

obeythefist (719316) | about 4 years ago | (#33053476)

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

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

Re:Rambus... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053566)

That's one side of the story. The others side was the other guys were the world's largest illegal cartel (according to the US DOJ) and were out to rip off Rambus.

Most slashtards only know about 1/10th of the story, because they are ugly help-desk nerds who only get their IT news from slashdot.

Re:Rambus... (4, Funny)

obeythefist (719316) | about 4 years ago | (#33053660)

Ohh I didn't realise that if you patent troll an illegal oligopoly, it's no longer patent trolling, it is in fact awesome patenting for great justice?

No, patent trolls are patent trolls.

I didn't know Rambus employees were able to get onto slashdot to post as AC's, though, I thought the RAM in their desktops was too slow to allow them to log on.

Re:Rambus... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33057006)

No. They can log on and post. But. Because of the speed of Rambus RAM he thought that would end up as a FP.

Re:Rambus... (3, Interesting)

Nikker (749551) | about 4 years ago | (#33053668)

As someone who bought said ram as part of a Dell in 2003 I can attest I would like to give Rambus a collective kick in the nuts for doing this. At the time coated me approx $600CDN for the upgrade from pc233 I believe? For 512mb. 7 years later 512mb pc 1066 is still $200. The performance was actually pretty good though giving approx 4gb/s performance, which at the time was pretty good. But that coupled with a Prescott I truly understood the value of building your own.

Re:Rambus... (4, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | about 4 years ago | (#33054918)

I remember working 2nd line support for a company with a load of RAMBUS Dells. Caused a bit of a commotion when the usual upgrade-by-slapping-in-more-RAM option was costed. I can remember it costing more than a new Optiplex at the time. Much hilarity with management.

Re:Rambus... (2, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | about 4 years ago | (#33053884)

I know most people define patent trolls as never releasing real products, but I don't think it should be that strict. Any company that engages in significant patent lawsuits for cash settlements (not patent portfolio license exchanges) should be classed a patent troll. Obviously any company that doesn't produce product is automatically in that category, but there are others that should be as well. Rambus is one of them IMO.

Re:Rambus... (2, Insightful)

Dionysus (12737) | about 4 years ago | (#33053990)

Any company that engages in significant patent lawsuits for cash settlements (not patent portfolio license exchanges) should be classed a patent troll.

Nah, still too strict. How about anybody Slashdotters don't like who also holds any patens are patent troll?

Re:Rambus... (4, Insightful)

asc99c (938635) | about 4 years ago | (#33054118)

I think the problem people have with RAMBUS is specifically that they sat in on the JEDEC working groups to watch the development of new standards, and then when everyone had decided on the design and invested huge amounts of money, they piped up that they had a patent on it. This was completely against the principles of the JEDEC working groups - where the meetings are specifically aimed at ensuring they are developing an open standard free from their member's patents which might otherwise block the technology - not necessarily 100% unpatented, but where they know what the patent licensing agreements are. Generally all the members agree to cross-licence the patents between themselves - this is the 'cost' of joining the JEDEC standards group.

The RAMBUS technology (and to a leser extent, it's implementation) is actually rather good, so they aren't a classic patent troll, but their submarine patent on DDR technology makes them clearly some form of patent troll.

Re:Rambus... (3, Informative)

stevew (4845) | about 4 years ago | (#33056306)

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

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

Re:Rambus... (2, Interesting)

_avs_007 (459738) | about 4 years ago | (#33061694)

In most standard bodies that I participate in, there is a clause in the member's agreement that says that anything you disclose/discuss to/with the committee, constitutes IP submission to the committee's patent pool of any IP associated with the topic in discussion. And there is usually a mandatory IP check before the spec is ratified. Any members that fail to declare IP that they wish not to license according to the member's license agreement, lose rights to said IP. I've seen a few cases where IP was later declared before the spec was ratified. In most cases, the company agrees to the licensing terms mandated in the member's agreement. In the once case I've seen where the member refused the licensing terms, their membership in the standard's body was revoked. (Basically they said, agree to the terms you agreed to in the member's agreement, or leave the standard's body. It was then pointed out if they left the standard's body, they would LOSE ALL RIGHTS to any patents that were submitted to the patent pool by other members, because the license agreement is only between the members)

Not sure how JEDEC works...

Re:Rambus... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | about 4 years ago | (#33058112)

>This was completely against the principles of the JEDEC working groups

Principles are one thing, but negotiated contracts secured by exchanges of valuable consideration are much more valuable in this sort of scenario. Did someone breach an enforceable contract clause, or did they go counter to an assumed guideline? One of these would be evidence in a federal court, the other would simply be a bummer.

Re:Rambus... (1)

butlerm (3112) | about 4 years ago | (#33059466)

"the problem people have with RAMBUS is specifically that they sat in on the JEDEC working groups to watch the development of new standards, and then when everyone had decided on the design and invested huge amounts of money, they piped up that they had a patent on it"

This ought to be counted as inequitable conduct, and the relevant patents invalidated as a consequence.

Re:Rambus... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33054680)

I would agree. The definition of a patent troll to me should be any individual who has the mindset as one. What really irritates me though is that the USPTO office no matter what bad decision gets off scot free. I am sorry, but Federal or not they should be held accountable for their actions and the individual examiners should be drug into court when it is found they didn't do their job right and cost millions for some company.

Not quite (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#33054840)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Not quite (4, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 years ago | (#33056572)

Other companies than Samsung tried to manufacture RDRAM and failed even more, because of poor quality control. The fact is the design was complex, and hard to manufacture, leading to all sorts of issues, including localized heat zones. If you remember, RDRAM was when we started seeing heat spreaders in memory modules.

Sending a signal on both edges of the clock has been done since like forever. I learned it in class before Rambus was even founded. If DDR infringes on a patent because of that, the patent office needs to review its standards for accepting patent applications.

Re:Not quite (1)

statusbar (314703) | about 4 years ago | (#33056952)

I was under the impression that rambus did a classic submarine patent - IE they had started a patent filing before the JEDEC meetings, and then amended it later with what they learned from JEDEC. Then the patent filing date is before the JEDEC meeting...

--jeffk++

Re:Not quite (2, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about 4 years ago | (#33062408)

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

Which is why Rambus has been awarded compensation in several judgments.

Holy rewriting of history. Lemme quote the original FTC Commission report [ftc.gov] on the case (pdf):

JEDEC operated on a cooperative basis and required that its members participate in good faith. According to JEDEC policy and practice, members were expected to reveal the existence of patents and patent applications that later might be enforced against those practicing the JEDEC standards. In addition, JEDEC members were obligated to offer assurances to license patented technologies on RAND terms, before members voted to adopt a standard that would incorporate those technologies. The intent of JEDEC policy and practice was to prevent anticompetitive hold-up.

Rambus, however, chose to disregard JEDEC's policy and practice, as well as the duty to act in good faith. Instead, Rambus deceived the other JEDEC members. Rambus capitalized on JEDEC's policy and practice - and also on the expectations of the JEDEC members - in several ways. Rambus refused to disclose the existence of its patents and applications, which deprived JEDEC members of critical information as they worked to evaluate potential standards. Rambus took additional actions that misled members to believe that Rambus was not seeking patents that would cover implementations of the standards under consideration by JEDEC. Rambus also went a step further: through its participation in JEDEC, Rambus gained information about the pending standard, and then amended its patent applications to ensure that subsequently-issued patents would cover the ultimate standard. Through its successful strategy, Rambus was able to conceal its patents and patent applications until after the standards were adopted and the market was locked in. Only then did Rambus reveal its patents - through patent infringement lawsuits against JEDEC members who practiced the standard.

The Commission finds that Rambus violated Section 5 of the FTC Act by engaging in exclusionary conduct that contributed significantly to the acquisition of monopoly power in four relevant and related markets. We further find a sufficient causal link between Rambus's exclusionary conduct and JEDEC's adoption of the SDRAM and DDR-SDRAM standards (but not the subsequent DDR2-SDRAM standard). Questions remain, however, regarding how the Commission can best determine the appropriate remedy. Accordingly, the Commission orders additional briefing for further consideration of remedial issues.

Yes Rambus had some patents pending before they approached JEDEC. But the whole point of being a member of JEDEC was to disclose those patents and negotiate licenses for the patents before the technologies were codified as a standard. That way the other members could decide, with all information in hand, which memory technology they would make the standard. Rambus deliberately failed to do this and did not disclose what they were patenting, essentially tricking the others into creating a memory standard which incorporated their patented technology so they could later threaten them with patent infringement lawsuits. They event went so far as to take ideas other JEDEC members revealed with the understanding that it wouldn't be patented so everyone would be free to use it, and incorporated them into their own patents.

The reason Rambus "won" was because even though the FTC found that they violated JEDEC's policies, the courts still found that the patents were valid. Normally when you write a contract, you're supposed to include clauses which specify penalties for violating the contract, These penalties are supposed to be onerous enough that nobody who signs wants to violate the contract. Like, "If you don't disclose your patents, you give up your rights to file patent suits against others who sign the contract." In JEDEC's case, they had no penalties. All they had was a statement saying members would disclose and license, with nothing specifying what would happen if a member didn't disclose. Rambus took advantage of this to screw over the other JEDEC members. But because they didn't violate any laws, the patents were deemed valid. (Whether they're truly valid was another issue. A lot of us who work with computers thought many if not most of them were pretty obvious.)

They are not patent trolls (they really do develop technology). They are something worse. They are people who have absolutely no qualms about lying, stealing, and cheating to get ahead. If the letter of the law allows them to violate the spirit of the law, they will take advantage of it.

Re:Rambus... (5, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 4 years ago | (#33053510)

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

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

Re:Rambus... (5, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 4 years ago | (#33053746)

It was only faster for a very short period.

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Rambus... (2, Funny)

hardboiled.tequila (986536) | about 4 years ago | (#33054000)

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

I read the above paragraph with the voice of Doc Emmett Brown... "No no no! You're not thinking fourth-dimensionally!"

Re:Rambus... (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#33054892)

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

My system on the floor here with dual-channel 32-bit PC1066 RDRAM and 4200 MB/s calls you a liar.

At the time (2002) the Intel i850E chipset was released, Rambus/Samsung had the fastest RAM, with twice the bandwidth. Later, Intel came out motherboards supporting dual-channel DDR, which would almost match the bandwidth of the RDRAM, at lower latency. Depending on what you were using the machines for, either could be faster.

Then, in 2003, faster DDR came out, and the race was over.

Re:Rambus... (4, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | about 4 years ago | (#33053828)

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

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

Re:Rambus... (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 years ago | (#33053614)

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Rambus... (5, Insightful)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 4 years ago | (#33053714)

If we PS3 owners can get past the fact that we are helping Sony, I doubt helping RAMBUS will cause much worry.

Re:Rambus... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#33053950)

Probably some of those complaining about patent trolls in this article too will extol the virtues of the PS3 (or PS2) in other threads without realizing that they're really just helping RAMBUS.

It's not outside of the realm of possibility that someone complaining about the patent trolling is actually using the PS3 browser and the troll's own products to do so. (Though hopefully no self-respecting slashdotter would be doing so anyway. Not that there aren't plenty of slashdotters who don't respect themselves.)

Re:Rambus... (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33054310)

Don't forget the Nintendo 64 [wikipedia.org] !

Nintendo used them too (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 years ago | (#33056198)

For the N64 but they didn't use it for the Gamecube or Wii. (Not sure what the DS or PSP use.)

Re:Rambus... (1)

arivanov (12034) | about 4 years ago | (#33054158)

Didn't they make some hideously expensive RAM that was supposed to perform twice as well as normal RAM, but never lived up to the hype?

It actually does. Or at least used to all the way until Core came out. I have a dual P3 733MHz, Intel 840 chipset with a dual channel RAMBUS in the loft (old HP Kayak).

http://foswiki.sigsegv.cx/bin/view/Net/DebianXU800 [sigsegv.cx]

It performs better than a lot of P4s or anything prior to Core systems. The problem with Rambus was that it was so hideously expensive that noone could afford a sane amount of memory so any advantage achieved through RAM speedup was lost on VM swapping madly. If you manage to collect enough RDRAM from skip diving a RAMBUS system is actually worth having. I have managed to obtain 768M through skip diving which makes mine just reasonable enough for a workstation.

It is nowdays fairly irrelevant because Intel and AMD have optimised their CPUs for DDR RAM. They are loaded to the gills with cache and this nullifies the RDRAM lower access latency advantage.

Re:Rambus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33060524)

It performs better than a lot of P4s or anything prior to Core systems.

Negative. The Athlon64/Opteron came out in 2003 and supported PC2700 DDR with two channels per socket. That had slightly more bandwidth than two channels of PC1066 RDRAM, assuming you only had one socket. And if you had two sockets then you could have twice as many memory channels and double the bandwidth.

It is nowdays fairly irrelevant because Intel and AMD have optimised their CPUs for DDR RAM. They are loaded to the gills with cache and this nullifies the RDRAM lower access latency advantage.

It was the other way around. RDRAM has atrocious latency, its alleged advantage was in having more bandwidth. But that only lasted for about a year between 2002 and 2003 before faster DDR came around.

Re:Rambus... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | about 4 years ago | (#33058026)

I upgraded a call center once (about 1500 workstations) where it turned out to be significantly less expensive to replace all the computers, than to upgrade the RAMBUS memory.

The SCO outlook (4, Insightful)

coldmist (154493) | about 4 years ago | (#33053488)

Although their chances are better than SCO's (debatable, but I'd give it to them), this story sounds as rosy as an SCO fanboy writing their weekly column.

"could mean millions" Could. Could.

I really wish we had a news service that posted honest stories.

Rambus has sued the world, and finally one of them stuck. nVidia is the loser this time. If only Rambus would die, then we could all move on in life.

See how much nicer that would be! ;)

Re:The SCO outlook (4, Informative)

Lawbeefaroni (246892) | about 4 years ago | (#33053636)

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

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

Re:The SCO outlook (1)

Splab (574204) | about 4 years ago | (#33054182)

In order for Samsung to buy out Rambus shares have to be for sale. If we assume they are willing to sell those shares, and it got out Samsung was buying, the price per share would explode since everyone using Rambus technology would be forced to ensure no single competitor sits on the IP. It's better for everyone to have one independent company sitting on the IP licensing it out.

"could reap"!? (1, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 4 years ago | (#33053528)

How do you think they have lasted 10 years beyond any product they have actually manufactured??

Their only business in the last decade has been patent trolling... and business has been good.

Re:"could reap"!? (3, Insightful)

Klinky (636952) | about 4 years ago | (#33053602)

Haters Gonna Hate,
Patent Trolls Gonna Litigate

Re:"could reap"!? (2, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 4 years ago | (#33053800)

Hah, and the haters and trolls who work for Rambus (or have stock?) apparently have mod points today...

Lawful Evil (3, Funny)

mmmmbeer (107215) | about 4 years ago | (#33053608)

Because crime doesn't pay, but exploiting flawed laws pays big time!

Re:Lawful Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053698)

uhhh mod up? shiiii son... give him points for the DnD reference.

Re:Lawful Evil (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053786)

Naming the character alignment for r/l entities sounds like a fun nerd-game.

I claim that the pirate-bay guys are Chaotic Neutral!

Re:Lawful Evil (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33053928)

You joke, but it's exactly true. If you commit a crime, you only have your own resources and power to carry it out. But if you get the state to do the work for you, then you have virtually unlimited power. The more you can have laws made which restrict the free market, the more power you have against the other guy (sure, the other guy might be able to wield said power, but if you got the laws made the right way, you will have better control of their power).

Oh God, not Rambus again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33053666)

Seriously, won't this company please just shrivel up and die, or maybe get eaten alive by rats? Please?

They've been patent extortionists and complete asshats since the 1990s. It's not that the RAM industry has ever been very clean or exactly has any good guys -- can you say rampant antitrust violations? -- but Rambus sits in a special place in my heart for attempting to hold much of the computer hardware industry hostage for, well, more than a decade now. The depth of the slime that RAM companies routinely wade in to makes me wonder why in the Hell they all don't get together and make a coordinated effort to crush and blackball Rambus? It seems as though it would make the world a better place, and they'd probably enjoy doing it since they seem to be in to that sort of thing. Should Rambus implode or otherwise be scraped from the face of computing forever, no one but Rambus executives and lawyers will be sad. Of course by now it may be too late: even the whiff of a litigation windfall, never mind an actual court victory, can keep a horde of lawyers going for an awful long time. It's depressing.

Rambus is to computing what Goldman Sachs is to finance. Calling them leeches gives leeches a bad name.

Number Bias? (2, Insightful)

Revotron (1115029) | about 4 years ago | (#33053762)

Reporting possible settlements as stated by the complainant's GC is like buying a diamond ring from a jewelry store at the sticker price. It's going to be a horribly, horribly overblown number way above reason and logic, because their goal is to squeeze every penny out of you. It's just like buying a car - only chumps pay the sticker price.

Even if Rambus can prove every single violation, there's a great deal of doubt in my mind that the judge will actually award them what they think it's worth.

Duke it out (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 years ago | (#33054020)

Rambus, a designer of semiconductor chips, won a long-running patent battle with NVIDIA

I can't help but wonder, eventually these sorts of lawsuits go from the cost of business to personal between CEOs. Since CEOs invest so much time and energy in winning these personal buisness battles, why don't they simply box it out in the ring, and sell tickets? Both companies effectively have unlimited funds for the ensuing 5-10 year legal battle, and ultimately it's really a 50/50 coin flip as to who owes who how much money when the verdict comes down from upon high. Just cut to the chase and let's see some CEOs bust some chops and knock heads in a bare knuckle boxing match instead of hiding behind overpriced lawyers.

oh noes (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 4 years ago | (#33054178)

RAMBUS are patent trolls.... WHO KNEW? maybe someone should have tried to slap them harder after their last debacle

Collusion is not cool! (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | about 4 years ago | (#33054216)

When you are convicted of collusion, never mind all the companies that get away with it all the time, but if we convict someone of collusion it should not be just a slap on the wrist.

I could go on but there is a lot of issues here and the US has a lot of law on the books that favor corporate 'individuals' over their actual citizenry. I keep going back to that Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times.

policy change (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about 4 years ago | (#33054600)

I don't know about you guys, but when I was in school a million years ago, representing someone else's work as your own was grounds for immediate failure of the course and very possibly removal from the program.

I'm assuming now, with the past decade or more of patent trolling, that this is no longer the case in business schools, and representing someone else's work as your own is now encouraged and actually preferred by the staff and faculty to actually producing your own results. right?

I mean, they're supposed to be teaching you how things actually work, right?

Kurt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33054902)

Wait wait wait? What did the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach do again? and why is he going to reap millions?

I remember all of the people defending Rambus (1)

Aboroth (1841308) | about 4 years ago | (#33055890)

I remember being on forums years ago when Rambus initially started its "Troll the World" tour. For some reason there were a lot of people who felt it necessary to tirelessly defend this company. They had an extraordinarily difficult time following logic and reason, and for some reason defended Rambus like it was their buddy in a bar fight. I thought they must have fallen into three categories. First, they are Rambus-paid trolls, which I kind of doubted there were many of, since there are so many stupid people that will do this work for free. Such as the second type, which have the typical "defend your shitty purchase" mentality. Third, they are just annoying fucks who like being contrarian for the sake of it. So, basically trolls.

Where are all of them now? Where are all of the valiant RAMBUS DEFENDERS (TM) to correct the injustice of this company having bad things said about it? Maybe everyone who feels embarrassed about their shitty Rambus purchases finally got over it.

Not much profit here (1)

Blink Tag (944716) | about 4 years ago | (#33056202)

A judgment in Rambus's favor would be worth at least $397 million, according to the company's general counsel, ...

Sounds like just enough to pay the attorneys ...

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