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Print 51 comment(s) - last by TIG.. on Jul 18 at 9:03 PM

If the major DRAM manufacturers fixed prices from 1998 to 2002, they're about to pay for it

A saga that has been cumulating for the last eight years is about to take another major step.  Seven of the major eight DRAM manufacturers will face a major antitrust complaint filing tomorrow lead by Attorney General Bill Lockyer.  Lockyer's filing for the State of California will be followed by additional suits in thirty-three more states shortly after.

The complaint claims that between 1998 and 2002 seven manufactures colluded to "fix DRAM chip prices, artificially restrain supply, allocate among themselves the production of DRAM chips and markets for the chips, and rig bids for DRAM chip contracts."  When the complaints are filed tomorrow, July 14, the following companies will be named:

  • Elpida Memory (Japan)
  • Hynix Semiconductor (South Korea)
  • Infineon Technologies AG (Germany)
  • Micron Technology (USA)
  • Mosel Vitelic (Taiwan)
  • Nanya Technology Corp. (Taiwan)
  • NEC Electronics America (USA)

Interestingly enough, the world's largest DRAM manufacturer, Samsung, is not listed in the claim.  Samsung had a DRAM market share of roughly 30% at the time and has been found guilty of price fixing during that same period.  In March of 2004, the FTC dropped an antitrust case against Rambus, to which Rambus turned around and sued Infineon, Hynix and Micron for artificially decreasing the price of DRAM to hurt the proliferation of RDRAM. Samsung, Rambus' major producer of RDRAM at the time, was also absent from these accusations.

The alleged collusion hurt the bottom line of several PC manufacturers at the time.  The suit to be filed by Lockyer names several manufactures, including Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway and IBM.

An excerpt from one of the claims reads "The manufacturers did not limit this pricing coordination to isolated or occasional conversations. On the contrary, during a roughly four-year period, there were frequent pricing communications among the conspiring manufacturers, exchanges that intensified in the days immediately preceding the dates on which they submitted bids to supply DRAM to the (computer makers), their largest and most important customers."

The industry certainly hasn't been without its share of shakeups.  In March of 2006, four Hynix executives were found guilty of price fixing, and are currently serving jail time.  Three Samsung executives were also found guilty, and Elpida was fined for price fixing too.

The suits seek retribution for the three year price fixing period, and will also impose penalties if the defendants are found guilty.



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By Watzman on 7/13/2006 8:38:37 PM , Rating: 2
The plan started out as a plan to kill Rambus RDRAM. The original plan was for Samsung, the primary maker of RDRAM (and the others also ... Toshiba, NEC, Infineon all did make RDRAM) to keep it sky-high (128MB was $1,000) while SDRAM and DDR were to be priced BELOW COST until Intel capitualated and agreed to drop RDRAM as a supported memory type for the Pentium 4 CPU chipsets. THEN, the price of SDRAM and DDR went through the roof. What I find frustrating is that very few of the complaints mention Rambus or RDRAM, or the motivations behind the sequence of events. But that's what happened, and why.




By Wwhat on 7/13/2006 11:59:42 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't the dram prices go up because there was a huge earthquake that destroyed factories and supplies of plastics for the cases?
Or did the newsagencies fake that story as part of the ploy?
Well done in that case, fooled everybody.


By figroc on 7/14/2006 1:30:07 AM , Rating: 2
The earthquake destroyed all of DRAM factories?
I don't think so.


By Watzman on 7/14/2006 1:39:44 AM , Rating: 2
Re: "Didn't the dram prices go up because there was a huge earthquake that destroyed factories and supplies of plastics for the cases?"

No.

Prices went up because they had been selling below cost to kill RDRAM and as soon as Intel capitulated (which they did ... killing the 850 RDRAM chipset and replacing it with the 845 SDRAM chipset), they wanted to raise prices to make up the difference.

Yes, there was a fire at a chemical plant that made chip packaging plastic, and yes there were some earthquakes that shut down some plants in Taiwan for a few weeks. Those had NOTHING to do with what happened, and neither event had a major impact on prices. Also, neither of those events were specific to DRAM; the plastics issue impacte ALL chips, not just DRAM or even memory chips, and the Taiwan earthquakes were limited to Taiwan (none of the largest 5 and only one of the largest 10 DRAM makers is in Taiwan; Infineon, Micron, Samsung, Hynix are in Europe, USA and Korea).

The story is as I told it.

But the aspect of the story that's being omitted is how the computer industry was hurt not because of prices, but because the performance of RDRAM was 25% to 35% faster than that of SDRAM, and about 15% faster than DDR. In fact, 2002's PC1066 RDRAM was as fast as 2006's DDR2. In terms of memory subsystem speed, the entire industry lost 4 years because the cartel succeeded in forcing the technically best solution out of the market.


By GoodRevrnd on 7/14/2006 2:09:44 AM , Rating: 2
Uhhh... I'm not sure you have that right.

Sure the speed is 1066 but the bandwidth on that memory was ~2.1GB/s.

Today we're at what... 4.2GB/s on an average system? That RDRAM is closer to PC2100, and how long ago did that come out.


By Watzman on 7/14/2006 8:33:29 PM , Rating: 2
No, the bandwidth was double that. The memory in my machine here (that I'm typing this on, an Asus P4T533 motherboard) is "RIMM4200". This was the later designation for the memory after they changed from the ealier designation based on clock speed. RIMM4200 = 4.2GB/s, not 2.1. And further, this was shipping in 2001, and they had a 1333 MHz version working in 2003, but there was no desktop chipset for it. RDRAM was many years ahead of it's time, almost a half decade, and the industry suffered when it was forced out for SDRAM (dramatically slower) and then DDR (still slower as it was introduced in 2002-2003, although of course it's gotten faster since then). And while undoubtedly DDR2 is faster (now, in 2006) than RDRAM was in 2002, it's dramatically slower (by something like 90%) than Rambus' current product (XDR) is capable of.


By masher2 (blog) on 7/14/2006 8:34:17 AM , Rating: 2
> "Prices went up because they had been selling below cost to kill RDRAM..."

So...the largest manufacturer of RDRAM was conspiring to kill off their product...so they could replace it with a cheaper product?

You don't need to postulate wild conspiracy theories to see why Rambus failed. It was expensive and difficult to manufacture, and had extremely high licensing fees as well. The fact is, the death of RDRAM was a *good* think for consumers; it consolidated the market onto one cheap, license-free standard.




By Watzman on 7/14/2006 8:37:58 PM , Rating: 2
First, it's not a conspiracy theory, it's a conspiracy fact. I suggest that you read Samsung's guilty plea in the antitrust case brought against them by the US Department of Justice. And just today (Friday, July 14th), the attorney generals of 34 states have filed an antitrust case against the DRAM makers. There are several million pages of evidence in these cases. This is not a theory. There was a conspiracy. The conspirators themselves have admitted to it.

Second, RDRAM was not excessivly difficult or expensive to make. Even Samsung themselves said, in 2001, that they would reach a production cost premium for RDRAM over SDRAM of only about 5%. But the price was kept EIGHT TIMES higher. As for your "extremely high licensing fees", I guess that is subjective, but the licensing fees were, in fact, 1.5% (ONE-POINT FIVE PERCENT). If you consider that "extremely high", we have a difference of opinion. And the 1.5% number is fact, it's not speculation.



Still babbling nonsense, just like your masters.
By TIG on 7/15/2006 12:31:13 PM , Rating: 2
Who's conspiring against what, RMBS investor?

Do these jamokas have any valid patent on anything or do they just have "IP" like so many other scammers?

What did Rambus "invent" in 1990? "Source synchronous clocking"? Isn't that what they claim in courts and before the FTC's ALJ?

I do know what source synchronous clocking is. Does Rambus have any valid patents on source synchronous clocking methods, systems ofr devices to accomplish that practice?

I also know what clocking method is employed in Rambus' commercial RDRAMS. Does Rambus have any patents on that?

Here's what Rambus has patents on:

<<FIG. 8b illustrates how each device 51, 52 receives each of the two bus clock signals at a different time (because of is propagation delay along the wires), with constant midpoint in time between the two bus clocks along the bus. At each device 51, 52, the rising edge 55 of Clock153 is followed by the rising edge 56 of Clock254. Similarly, the falling edge 57 of Clock153 is followed by the falling edge 58 of Clock254. This waveform relationship is observed at all other devices along the bus. Devices which are closer to the clock generator have a greater separation between Clock1 and Clock2 relative to devices farther from the generator because of the longer time required for each clock pulse to traverse the bus and return along line 54, but the midpoint in time 59, 60 between corresponding rising or falling edges in fixed because, for any given device, the length of each clock line between the far end of the bus and that device is equal. Each device must sample the two bus clocks and generate its own internal device clock at the midpoint of the two.>>

Ok, so the Rambus devices that are patented generate clocks that are aligned in phase with each other along the extent of the bus.

A source synchronous clocking system would have clocks that vary in phase along a bus in a fashion nearly equal to the phase variation of the data that are transmitted with the clock.



Here's what H&F patented:

"In the preferred embodiment, two sets of these delay lines are used, one to generate the true value of the internal device clock 73, and the other to generate the complement 74 without adding any inverter delay. The dual circuit allows generation of truly complementary clocks, with extremely small skew. The complement internal device clock is used to clock the `even` input receivers to sample at time 127, while the true internal device clock is used to clock the `odd` input receivers to sample at time 125. The true and complement internal device clocks are also used to select which data is driven to the output drivers. The gate delay between the internal device clock and output circuits driving the bus in slightly greater than the corresponding delay for the input circuits, which means that the new data always will be driven on the bus slightly after the old data has been sampled."

So they use the SAME clock to operate both the input samplers and output drivers in the system they "invented" in 1990 and that everybody and their cat infringes on? Or do you claim otherwise? Did they claim otherwise before the USPTO and in Federal District court?

Interesting.....




"One important part of the input/output circuitry generates an internal device clock based on early and late bus clocks. Controlling clock skew (the difference in clock timing between devices) is important in a system running with 2 ns cycles, thus the internal device clock is generated so the input sampler and the output driver operate as close in time as possible to midway between the two bus clocks."

So "clock skew" is the difference in clock timing between devices? Hummm. They're not suggesting that clocks have no skew from device to device along their Rambus, are they? But that's stupid, because the data that they're trying to latch with their "input samplers" does have timing skew from device to device"

A source synchronous clocking scheme would have a timing skew due to time of flight from device to device, the accompanying data clock would skew equally to the data along such a bus. Rambus teaches against a source synchronous clocking method by requiring all modules to derive a single clock from the early and late clock signals of its clock loop "midway between the two bus clocks" and since "the midpoint in time 59, 60 between corresponding rising or falling edges in fixed" for each module along the bus, the data skew relative to the fixed clocks results in portions of the bus where no valid data can be latched.

"To operate at a 2 ns data rate, the transit time on the bus should preferably be kept under 1 ns, to leave 1 ns for the setup and hold time of the input receivers (described below) plus clock skew. Thus the bus lines must be kept quite short, under about 8 cm for maximum performance. Lower performance systems may have much longer lines, e.g. a 4 ns bus may have 24 cm lines (3 ns transit time, 1 ns setup and hold time)."

So for the patented Rambus, for data rates longer than 1 ns there are regions along the bus dependant on data rate and set-up and hold time where no valid data can be latched. Assuming 1 ns set-up and hold time for the "samplers" as H&F
did results in no physical length of bus where valid data can be received at data rates of 1ns and greater.

That's what Rambus patented, it's not source synchronus, at high bus frequencies it's just stupid and useless. At very high bus frequencies, with data rates near 1ns or faster they had no solution in the first place, and what they did practice in every generation of their RDRAM products doesn't match their patent specification in the first place. What they patented is what they abandoned long ago in practice, it's what no one infringes on (not even them) and it's what they continued to file with the USPTO to argue for broader and broader claims more than fifty times in order to bring their rediculous lawsuits.

I happen to think it's rather funny. Rambus had better hope thet there are some judges with a good sense of humor too.


By Watzman on 7/15/2006 4:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
Rambus has over 900 patents either issued (about half) or applied for.

They have patents on very, very many innovations without which ANY modern memory (SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, FB-DIMM) would not work. Some of these include dual edge clocking, programmable latency registers, on-chip PLLs, etc., but I'm only scratching the surface (obviously, with 900 patents and an average of 20 to 50 claims per patent).

Rambus doesn't claim a patent on any type of memory per se, not do they claim that it's inherintly impossible to build a memory device without infringing their patents. But what they do claim, and what the courts have found, is that in fact every modern memory device actually built and commercially sold does, in fact, infringe their patents.

The Rambus vs. Hynix patent infringement case is the first of Rambus' cases to go to a full jury trial. Over 50 claims were originally in the case, which covers only SDRAM and DDR memory types (there is a separate case covering DDR2 that has not yet gone to trial).

In January of 2005, the court had found that 29 of the over 50 claims in the case were so clearly infringed by Hynix that no trial was necessary, and the court issued summary judgements (SJ's) of infringement on those claims. These, however, only establish infringement, and do not establish either patent validity or patent enforceability.

In order to simplify the trail for a lay jury, Rambus agreed to present only 10 of the more than 50 claims alleged to the jury in the jury trial. [since total guilt is established if only 1 claim in infringed, even 10 is far more than are needed].

The trail lasted about 4 weeks, and the jury returned a verdict (actually 37 distinct sub-verdicts) that found EVERY Rambus patent in the case to be both valid, infringed and enforceable. In a case broken into 37 sub-components, Hynix did not win even one single piece of the jury findings.

With the exception of Judge Robert Payne in Virgina (who appears to be some combination of incompetent, biased or actually corrupt ... since his own ex-law firm was represeting Rambus' adversary), Rambus has been winning every legal battle in every court that has heard any aspect of the case. This has included rulings by Judges Rader, Gajarsa and Bryson (Court of Appeals), ALJ McGuire (Chief Judge of the Federal Trade Commission, who wrote a stunning 300+ page verdict totally in Rambus' favor), Federal District Judges Whyte and Jordan, and California State Judge Kramer.

It's now very clear that Rambus has valid, enforceable and infringed patents and will ultimately prevail. It's just a matter of how much longer (it's been 6 years already) an illegal cartel of multi-billion dollar multinational corporations will be able to drag out these cases and prevent the tiny firm with a single office and fewer than 200 employees from prevailing in these patent infringement cases that it filed more than 6 years ago.


RE: Still babbling nonsense, just like your masters.
By TIG on 7/15/2006 7:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the history of their '898 filings:

http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/!ut/p/_s.7...

Child Continuity Data
07/847,111 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,112 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,291 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,532 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,572 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,651 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,692 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/847,961 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/849,211 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/849,212 filed on 03-05-1992 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
07/954,945 filed on 09-30-1992 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/121,175 filed on 09-13-1993 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/183,573 filed on 01-18-1994 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/222,646 filed on 03-31-1994 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/469,490 filed on 06-06-1995 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/607,780 filed on 02-27-1996 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/710,574 filed on 09-19-1996 which is Abandoned claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/749,729 filed on 11-15-1996 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/762,139 filed on 12-09-1996 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/796,782 filed on 02-10-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/798,520 filed on 02-10-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/798,525 filed on 02-10-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/829,459 filed on 03-28-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/910,810 filed on 08-13-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
08/979,127 filed on 11-26-1997 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/098,387 filed on 06-16-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/161,090 filed on 09-25-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/213,243 filed on 12-17-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/221,108 filed on 12-28-1998 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/252,997 filed on 02-19-1999 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/252,998 filed on 02-19-1999 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/262,114 filed on 03-04-1999 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/263,224 filed on 03-05-1999 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/357,989 filed on 07-21-1999 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/492,982 filed on 01-27-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/510,213 filed on 02-22-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/514,872 filed on 02-28-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/545,648 filed on 04-10-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/566,551 filed on 05-08-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/629,497 filed on 07-31-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/669,295 filed on 09-25-2000 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/779,296 filed on 02-08-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/796,206 filed on 02-27-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/801,151 filed on 03-07-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/835,263 filed on 04-13-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/893,836 filed on 06-28-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/916,493 filed on 07-26-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
09/969,489 filed on 10-01-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/028,077 filed on 12-21-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/037,171 filed on 12-21-2001 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/054,196 filed on 01-22-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/097,336 filed on 03-14-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/102,237 filed on 02-04-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/205,241 filed on 07-25-2002 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/716,595 filed on 11-20-2003 which is Pending claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/716,596 filed on 11-20-2003 which is Pending claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/939,500 filed on 09-14-2004 which is Patented claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/939,501 filed on 09-14-2004 which is Pending claims the benefit of 07/510,898
10/973,268 filed on 10-27-2004 which is Pending claims the benefit of 07/510,898

There are the continuations and divisionals. You show me any one of those in which they disclosed new matter to inform the USPTO or the world of their "invention" of the CFM/RCLK and CTM/TCKLK source synchronous clock system that they adopted prior to the 1994 introduction of their base RDRAM product. A clocking system that they adopted in preference to their patented specification AFTER being in attendance at JEDEC memory subgroup meetings.

You can rattle on about the trial and how they "won" and now can go on to demand royalties on cell phones and "address" that $1.5 trillion "TAM" that they hype in analysts gaggles, but I've shown you exactly what's in their patent specification. The same specification that the judge who presided over their infringement trial seems to have said was problematic.



By Watzman on 7/15/2006 8:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it was 2 guys ... two brilliant, Nobel-prize class guys, EE Professors at Standford, but still just two private individual who started the firm and filed the initial patents, with no employees at all.

And they had a private attorney, not world-class, not a huge law firm, who drafted the early patents.

And the patent office examiner said (in his trial testimony in 2001) that it was the most complex patent, with the most new inventions, that he'd ever seen. And the patent office gets paid from the patent fees, one fee per patent, and therefore the patent office DEMANDED that it be broken up into many separate patents and applications (so that the patent office could get more fees, and divide the examination up among multiple examiners).

And the processing was complex and took many years (almost a decade .... which, however it may seem to us lay persons, is really not that unusual, many patent applications plod through the system for years and years).

But in any case, there are patents at issue now, many of them, that had nothing to do with and which did not derive from those initial patents. Like I said, about 900 patents applied for, about half actually issued so far. And you are really not making much of a point, just wasting electrons.

The simple fact here is that Rambus did apply for patents, in 1990, on technologies and techniques that were not used outside of RDRAM until SDRAM in about 1995, and without which no form of modern memory would function.

And Rambus has continued to innovate and to be about a full decade ahead of the computer industry ever since.

And nothing that you have said really refutes that.

But it was a tiny start-up firm, which in 1999 had less than 200 employees in a single office in California, that was (and still is) taking on an entire industry of multi-billion dollar multinational corporations, and if there's anything that's a surprise here it is that after almost having been "litigated to death" (which was in fact, literally, the plan), and after an illegal price-fixing and anti-trust conspiracy by an illegal cartel of these same firms, they have managed to survive, to remain profitable and they will probably end up winning this fight.

THAT is the surprise, because in these types of situations, in the real world, the little guy almost alway loses. Just ask Preston Tucker.


RE: Still babbling nonsense, just like your masters.
By TIG on 7/15/2006 9:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
Boo hoo, they were just a couple of guys and they didn't know nothin.

THey wrot a patent specification that they don't practice and don't license. They practice and license something completely different that they didn't disclose in 1990 or in any of the applications they subsequently made while their non-conforming product was being sold and while they were scheming to create the precption of infringement of other products that don't conform to their 1990 patent specification either.

Now the "bad guys stole our binky" story is supposed to make all the misinformation, lack of proper disclosure and false and misleading statements all better? Give it a rest. This isn't one of your fellow investors' clubhouses where everything that Rambus says and does is wonderful and true because your back pocket stands to be filled if it is.

Start addressing the specification of clock generation for devices within the Rambus system patent, try to tell me or anyone else that that's actually BRDRAM CRDRAM or DRDRAM clocks operate. Show that the patent specification doesn't leave zones where data can't meet timing requirements and had to be abandoned to provide commercial utility, much less technical merit.

Don't just give me your sob stories.


By Watzman on 7/15/2006 10:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
Whether they practice the patents or not is totally irrelevant. A patent holder is simply not required to practice the patent themselves in order to demand that others using it (and infringing the patents) license it and pay royalties on it. And, in fact, since Rambus doesn't actually make memory at all, of any kind (they are an IP firm only, not a manufacturing firm), by definition they don't practice any of their patents.

As to the rest, the courts simply disagree with you, as you very well know. There is simply not that much more that can be said.

The courts have held, and are holding more and more often as additional cases come to trial (and the direction on this, in multiple courts, in multiple cases all across the country, is very, very clear from pretrial proceedings even where the actual cases are still to be heard), that Rambus has patents that are valid, that are enforceable, and that are being infringed.

Those are the facts, as you know perfectly well, and frankly your opinion to the contrary is simply irrelevant.

Now I won't argue with you that my opinion is equally irrelevant, for that matter. Except for the point that my opinion happens to be the one that is prevailing in the courts, and I mean in multiple courts, all across the country, from sea to shining sea (literally: from Delaware to California). Oh say can you see, by the dawn's (or any other) light? No, I guess not. Sorry, but that's your problem.





By TIG on 7/16/2006 8:11:51 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, you make no argument related to the statements of these "two guys" patent specification.

There may be people who would think that standing up under oath in a court or in front of the USPTO and making statements that can readily be construed as material misrepresentations of fact isn't exactly the hallmark of "brilliant, Nobel-prize class" thinking. I understand that your investment portfolio would benefit greatly from the upholding of the rather absurdly broad claims allegedly deriving from the many continuations and divisional of the '898 system specification, but there are frankly quite a few incongruities that don't resolve favorably for the "inventors". And yes, there are many venues across the country and around the world where exactly the same issues are apparently being brought forward as part of the Rambus "'priviledged' litigation strategy", that might not be as good a thing as you seem to believe.

Now I understand that my unwillingness to suspend disbelief in order to turn one clock at the midpoint of early clock / late clock (or CTM / CFM if you prefer it that way) into two distinctly separate clocks separately derives and employed as RCLK and TCLK strikes directly at the heart of apple pie and the American Way. That's just my personal style as a rather hardbitten circuit hacker with no personal stake in any of these dingalings prevailing, whether they're "colluding cartels of infringers" or "litigating licensors". But if you think that, as a customer for computing hardware I'm interested in supporting the wholesale cooption of interface technology that preexisted the Rambus nonsense and in rather better implementation after billions of dollars and thousands of man hours have already been funded by the consumer to try to make their kludge-assed technological blind alley lead to some bright and shining future, you've got another think coming.


By TIG on 7/18/2006 9:03:45 PM , Rating: 2
DRAM arrays taken independant of any controller having been disingenuously been characterized as 'asynchronous' and ignoring of bank-interleaved arrays of burst transfer DRAMS which were also swept under the rug in the typical Rambus practice of the litigation process, the following ensued:

<<1290. When Dr. Horowitz began working on what was to become RDRAM he had extensive experience in asynchronous designs.>> McGuire, FTC ID

In fact, the asynchronous discipline that Horowitz was involved in and aware of was more a more technically specific discipline. This is partially evidenced in the following presentation:

http://www.cs.unc.edu/~montek/teaching/s...

Horowitz was involved and active in the development of asynchronous pipelines and would have every reason, as such, to have been aware of the work described in this paper:

http://f-cpu.seul.org/new/micropipelines...

"Transition Signalling
In transition signalling any transition, either rising or falling has the same meaning, as illustrated in Figure 2; either kind of transition is called an event. As indicated in the figure, and suggested by its name, transition signalling avoids distinctions between the two types of transition even though they may look quite different. In effect, all responses to transition signals are edge triggered, and are triggered on both rising and falling edges. Because transition signalling uses both rising and falling edges as trigger events, it may offer twice the speed potential of conventional clocking."

- Ivan E. Sutherland, "Micropiplines", Communications of the ACM, Vol. 32, No. 3, June 1989 - 1988 ACM Turing award lecture.

Also in this paper:

"Finally, memory systems obviously fit well into the micropipeline framework. One might design a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) part using a micropipeline.Such a part can provide at least a factor of two improvement in throughput over conventional DRAM parts."


By masher2 (blog) on 7/16/2006 5:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
> "the patent office gets paid from the patent fees, one fee per patent, and therefore the patent office DEMANDED that it be broken up into many separate patents and applications"

I have quite a few patents myself...and while your statement is corect, the motivation you ascribe to it is not. A patent must be as specific as possible, and relate, as much as possible, to only a single innovative technique or invention.

The USPTO isn't trying to pad its budget by breaking patents up. Its simply trying to do its job.



By masher2 (blog) on 7/16/2006 5:28:54 PM , Rating: 3
> "This is not a theory. There was a conspiracy. The conspirators themselves have admitted to it. "

Please try to form a coherent statement. The "admitted conspiracy" and the actions for which the USDOJ are bringing suit are related to collusion to RAISE the price of DRAM. Rambus is alleging they did the exact opposite-- charged too little for DRAM.

> "But the price was kept EIGHT TIMES higher..."

Lol, you obviously never purchased any RDRAMs. During their heydey, they were a bit less than twice as much as DDR ram...plus they had higher latency and higher heat output. Even by the time they were killed off entirely by Intel's design decisions, RDRAMs were less than triple the cost of equivalent-speed DDR. A far cry from "8 times" as high.

The licensing fees were 2%. The manufacturing costs were far higher, due to the needed inclusion of a memory controller on each chip. And the latency meant RDRAMs underperformed DDR in many situations.

As I said, its no mystery why Rambus failed. The technology was too expensive for its advantages. Worse, the perceived advantage of RDRAMs were less than zero. Most people (mistakenly) thought they were worse than DDR Ram in all cases....and I spent many a post back in the 2000 era trying to convince people otherwise.

In the minds of buyers, RDRAMs were wholly inferior. And that, coupled with Rambus's unpopular business tactics, ensured that RDRAMs remained a fringe market. Meanwhile, people brought DDR in droves...and the price kept going down, down, down.

Finally, the most telling argument against your conspiracy theory is simple common sense. If RDRAMs were so cheap to license and so easy to make-- why would anyone have a desire to "kill them off"? If this was true, chipmakers would have no incentive whatsoever to push people towards DDR...why would they even care?


By Calin on 7/16/2006 7:05:37 AM , Rating: 2
I remember at first the RDRAM was $900 for a 128MB - and at that time (thanks maybe to "price fixing), SDRAM was about ten times cheaper.
No amount of extra performance was able to cover that difference in price for most of the market (99%).

Also, take into account that, whatever the bandwidth and speed advantages (and latency disadvantage) RDRAM had, Pentium !!! was just as fast with fast SDRAM as with DDR. The place where RDRAM was alot better was against single channel SDRAM Pentium4 (and was mostly equal to later single channel DDR). Those were the Pentium 1600+ days.


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