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An excerpt from the Rambus ruling in April
Rambus may still receive $133M USD opposed to the $307M originally agreed upon, but the company is far from done fighting lawsuits

Earlier this year Rambus won a staggering $307M USD civil award against Hynix claiming the company infringed on its intellectual property.  Specifically, Rambus claimed that Hynix used techniques for producing memory that were proprietary to Rambus.  On Friday morning, Judge Ronald Whyte of Northern District of California overturned this award (PDF).

The latest statement from the court claimed "For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion for a new trial on the issue of damages is GRANTED unless Rambus files notice with the court within thirty (30) days of this order accepting remittitur of the jury award to $133,584,129 for damages through December 31, 2005."

The focal point for this overturn is due to discrepancies of the actual amount of DRAM sales during the time period Hynix infringed on Rambus IP.  Rambus at this point may either accept the lesser award of $133.6M USD or begin a new trial against Hynix.

Despite the interconnections between Hynix and Rambus, this slew of IP lawsuits are not related to the price fixing sentencing from earlier this year where four Hynix executives were given jail time. Within the past year every major DRAM manufacturer has faced litigation from Rambus, with the exception of the company's primary manufacturing partner Samsung.  Rambus has also filed suits claiming that all of the major DRAM providers artificially manipulated pricing on DRAM to hurt RDRAM sales -- with fairly damning evidence on the company website (PDF) -- again with the exception of Samsung.  On Friday 34 states filed anti-trust suits against most  major DRAM providers claiming the companies colluded to artificially inflate memory pricing, which is illegal in the US. Once again, Samsung was absent from this volley of litigation as well.

More can be seen from the official Rambus Litigation Update page.  The company currently has twelve outstanding major cases to follow.



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I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By Acanthus on 7/18/2006 8:51:20 AM , Rating: 2
The memory companies did use rambus technology and fail to pay royalties... They werent innocent victims in all this. They also collude against the consumer frequently and almost all of them have been convicted of doing so in one way or another.

Even samsung has had price fixing litigation recently, but they are not involved in the most recent volleys of lawsuits.

Rambus DOES make something, they invented DDR signaling, they invented the superior RDRAM standard that was driven out of business by the "innocent" memory companies with outrageous pricing.

Rambus has serial interconnect technology, XDR, and a huge research and development team made up of some of the greatest minds in the industry...

I wont go as far as to say rambus is innocent in all this, but they certainly didnt pick on innocent companies or try to capitalize on something that wasnt theirs.




RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By masher2 (blog) on 7/18/2006 9:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
We don't need convoluted conspiracy theories to explain why Rambus died. Pricing remained high because the technology was considerably more complex than DDR, and RDRAMs never reached large economies of scale. Due to its higher latency, it underperformed DDR in some cases, and its higher bandwidth didn't translate into performance gains worth the price premium. Once its only major backer (Intel) quickly lost interest in the technogy, RDRAM was doomed.

Here's an article from Oct 2000, on the issues facing Intel:

quote:
ElectronicNews posted an article that examines the issues in depth and quotes an anonymous former Intel employee about how the introduction of RDRAM into Intel's chipsets caused massive problems. Among the many bombs lobbed at Rambus are quotes about the i820 debacle such as, "The issues were not defects within the MTH. The issues were with the Rambus channel itself and the use of large packages at channel speeds."

...It looks like the Intel Architecture Group forced RDRAM down the throats of unwilling engineers and lost many of them because of it."




RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By Acanthus on 7/18/2006 9:39:19 AM , Rating: 2
And that quote is talking about I820, which didnt benefit from the extra bandwidth granted by RDRAM.

Your latency statement is false, PC1066 RDRAM has less latency than PC3200 CAS 2-2-2-5 DDR.

I875 on Northwoods showed significant gains in many applications for RDRAM, its prohibitive cost (blamed on Rambus royalties, not volumes, (which were actually only about $2.50 per 256MB memory module).

RDRAM was killed because DRAM makers wanted to preserve DDRs future.

Do you honestly believe that DDRII could touch 128bit 1333mhz rambus? (Remember that rambus memory latency gets LOWER as the clockspeed increases).


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By masher2 (blog) on 7/18/2006 12:07:18 PM , Rating: 3
> "PC1066 RDRAM has less latency than PC3200 CAS 2-2-2-5 DDR."

PC-1066 wasn't released till 2002, by which time RDRAM was already essentially a dead platform. And, more to the point, PC4200 was already out as well.

Finally, I'd like to point out that RDRAM latency is dependent on the number of sticks installed. Even by 2002, it was impossible to find RDRAMs in sticks larger than 512MB, whereas DDR was available in sticks of 1GB and even 2GB. There were signalling and termination issues with the larger sizes chips.

Another factor was Intel being late to the table with dual-channel support, and I won't even mention the prodigous heat output on RDRAMs.

> "I875 on Northwoods showed significant gains in many applications for RDRAM"

Of course...which explains why I purchased several RDRAM-based platforms myself. There were also applications where it did worse than DDR. Overall, RDRAM was the net performance winner...but convincing anyone to buy it, given its size constraints, cost, limited platform support, and other problems, was next to impossible.

> "Remember that rambus memory latency gets LOWER as the clockspeed increases"

All memory latency is lowered by increased clock rates. This is nothing unique to RDRAM.

> "RDRAM was killed because DRAM makers wanted to preserve DDRs future..."

Total rubbish. The same "DRAM makers" also made RDRAM. And they made *more* profit per stick on it...licensing fees didn't affect their profits much. They had no incentive whatsoever to kill RDRAM.

I spent many a post arguing *for* Rambus in the 1999-2001 era. Fact is, I could rarely convince anyone it was worth buying. It wasn't just the extra cost of the chips...there were many, many other factors bruiting about.


By dgingeri on 7/18/2006 12:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Finally, I'd like to point out that RDRAM latency is dependent on the number of sticks installed. Even by 2002, it was impossible to find RDRAMs in sticks larger than 512MB, whereas DDR was available in sticks of 1GB and even 2GB. There were signalling and termination issues with the larger sizes chips.


One thing to note here: RDRAM, and the new XDR, have increasing latency per device attached, not just per stick. It works somewhat like Token Ring, and in fact is based off that idea. Each device has a dedicated addressing processor to decide where to store the data. the memory controller addresses each device in sequence to access the data. The memory controller has no ability to pre-fetch or pre-address a particular device, making the latency unavoidable. On top of that, each device has a 32 cycle response time. This far outstrips SDRAM's latency, no matter if it's SDR, DDR, or DDR2. IT does transfer faster once the device is found and it is all transferred, but if the memory is fragmented or the retrieval is small, it introduces much higher latency. The advantage of RDRAM and XDR is in single devices and large transfers, as in the Sony PS2. For document work and PC games, it sucks.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By fsardis on 7/18/2006 7:28:28 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
All memory latency is lowered by increased clock rates. This is nothing unique to RDRAM.


wrong. increasing the ram speeds inevitably means more latency. check out DDR modules for proof and even better check out the latency differences between DDR3200 and DDR4000. another good example is DDR vs DDR2.
yet another example is overclocking the ram which definitely means increasing the latencies to achieve higher speed.
so no, increasing the clocks doesnt lower the latency in any way.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By masher2 (blog) on 7/18/2006 8:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
> "wrong. increasing the ram speeds inevitably means more latency"

Err, no. It doesn't work like this at all. Latency is based on clock cycles...and the length of a cycle is the inverse of the operating frequency. Increase the clock rate on a memory module, and the latency decreases. In an exact, perfectly linear manner. Twice the clock rate = half the latency.

What you're thinking of is a different issue entirely. Quite often, you cannot increase the clock rate without relaxing the timings. And that may wind up increasing the overall latency more than what the higher clock yields. Result...more latency.

DDR2 has a higher latency than DDR. But its not due to the higher clock rate, its in despite of it. It has significantly higher timings, a prefetch buffer and additional mux/demux logic...all of which adds latency.

The OP was implying that the normal relationship between clock rate and latency was something special to RDRAMs. It is not...its a basic element of all memory technologies...though the latency is, of course, affected by many other factors besides clock rate.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By emboss on 7/18/2006 9:46:08 PM , Rating: 2
Just one minor clarification about an otherwise excellent post ... IIRC, latency (except for CAS) is actually specified in ns in the SPD data (which makes sense if you think about how RAM works). RAM controllers work at particular clock rate, which requires changing this ns time into clock cycles. Due to this quantization alone, increasing the clock speed (assuming the timings are strictly adhered to) may require an increase in latency (measured in ns).


By masher2 (blog) on 7/19/2006 12:17:13 AM , Rating: 2
> "Due to this quantization alone, increasing the clock speed (assuming the timings are strictly adhered to) may require an increase in latency (measured in ns)."

Exactly so....an excellent point which I was lax to not have mentioned.




By Acanthus on 7/19/2006 3:09:19 AM , Rating: 2
No, what i was saying was that with RDRAM, the timings were static, so the latency was significantly reduced as the clockspeed went up.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By fsardis on 7/18/2006 7:34:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Due to its higher latency, it underperformed DDR in some cases, and its higher bandwidth didn't translate into performance gains worth the price premium


and here you are two posts down the page telling us that you used to argue "for" RDRAM back in the day. make up your mind.

or is it that you really have no opinion and you bs around trying to make impression?


By masher2 (blog) on 7/18/2006 8:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
> "and here you are two posts down the page telling us that you used to argue "for" RDRAM back in the day. make up your mind."

Read what I post, not what you want to hear. RDRAM underperformed DDR in some cases. It outperformed in others. In most, in fact...though the difference was small and not worth the price premium to most buyers.

I purchased quite a bit of RDRAM myself. If the extra cost wasn't a factor, it gave you the highest performing platform at the time. My position is consistent.

From your past posting history, I realize how desperately you wish to attack me...but you need a better springboard than this.





By mindless1 on 7/18/2006 10:08:11 AM , Rating: 3
Most would consider doubling clock rate and serialized technologies inevitable. Rambus essentially spent time trying to patent inevitable technology instead of putting any of it to good use. So no, they did not make anything, they only impeded others that do.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By dgingeri on 7/18/2006 12:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The memory companies did use rambus technology and fail to pay royalties... They werent innocent victims in all this. They also collude against the consumer frequently and almost all of them have been convicted of doing so in one way or another.


The hate comes from this: Rambus introduced some of this tech to the standards panel and said this could be included free, yet had patents pending on what they developed, they also filed patents on several things introduced by other manufacturers. all of this was done for one reason: to trap the entire memory industry into law suits and royalty payments. They produced nothing. They deserve nothing.

quote:
Rambus DOES make something, they invented DDR signaling, they invented the superior RDRAM standard that was driven out of business by the "innocent" memory companies with outrageous pricing.


The RDRAM standard was never superior. It is still not superior. They never introduced DDR signaling. That was introduced to the standards board (I can't remember the name of it) by Samsung and Micron engineers working together to try to develop a standard memory type that could out perform SDRAM. Rambus filed patents on it shortly after, citing their own engineers as the developers. There is documented proof of this, which is why Micron got the case dismissed when it got into court back in 2002. The latest slew of lawsuits is from a manufacturing technique developed by Rambus and introduced to the standards board back in 1998. They just had the patent granted in 2005 and started the lawsuits right away. Entrapment. Plain and simple.

quote:
Rambus has serial interconnect technology, XDR, and a huge research and development team made up of some of the greatest minds in the industry...


Again, they took tech developed by Samsung and Micron and put it into they old RDRAM tech, which has entirely too much overhead and latency, and punched their bandwidth up a notch. nobody has any intent of using it. The thing here is that the tech Samsung and Micron developed is for the DDR2 standard, and is open for everyone to use. those companies worked together to make better stuff for all to use so that the industry as a whole would move forward. Rambus is strying to stifle that.

Rambus is guilty of everything people try to blame MS for. They are the true bad guys of this world. they leech off of others, entrap them, feed off them, and produce nothing, stifling the development of the entire world in the process.


RE: I dont get the rambus hate to this day...
By Acanthus on 7/18/2006 2:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
They owned the IP... They have every right to the money...

Seeing it as "inevitable technology" doesnt mean they didnt patent it.

I predict that someday nanotubes will be used in thermal grease for cooling. Given its incredible thermal conductivity it would be an ideal use for nanotubes.

Is it pretty inevitable since nanotubes discovery that they will be used in cooling applications? Hell yes. Did someone smart already patent pretty much every possible application of this? Yes, they did. I have checked because i intended to do the same.

Just because rambus invents technology and licenses it out doesnt mean they arent actually doing anything tangible... I dont see the argument there.

As for rambus peroformance, we will never know... PC1200 RDRAM was on the horizon with its death, at latencies significantly lower than DDR... PC1066 RDRAM was superior to DDR400, look up the benches...

The cost was intentional, and rambus has documents to prove it (linked in this news article).

If we had rambus today, at what was inteneded on its roadmap, even with NO improvements to the controller at all... RDRAM would be significantly faster than DDR2...

And to the guy who said RDRAM sucked at gaming, id love to see you pull up some proof... I850 + PC1066 was the dominant gaming platform until I875 went mainstream almost 2 years later.


By dgingeri on 7/18/2006 2:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
The problem here is that Rambus didn't invent half the stuff they are suing over, they just snagged it and filed the patent first, using the standards board discussion as a source. The other half they are suing over are things they introduced to the standards board as free, only to charge for it later.

Imagine if the bus and train companies start thinking this way. You ride to work everyday on them, even deciding to sell your car to reduce costs, becoming entirely dependant on the train or bus to get anywhere. Then all of a sudden you get a summons to court saying the train or bus company wants an extra $50 per day, including all the times you used it previously, and have locked out your credit so you can't even buy a car until you've paid them. This is exactly what Rambus has done.


By masher2 (blog) on 7/18/2006 3:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
> Is it pretty inevitable since nanotubes discovery that they will be used in cooling applications? Hell yes. Did someone smart already patent pretty much every possible application of this? Yes, they did. I have checked because i intended to do the same..."

The point is that an obvious, inevitable application is unpatentable. USPTO rules forbid granting patents except for "nonobvious" applications. Unfortunately, the patent office is so poorly staffed and underworked these days that they grant pretty much anything and everything. If its later challenged, they'll often go back and reverse their earlier decision....or not. There is little rhyme or reason to their decisions as of late.

> "And to the guy who said RDRAM sucked at gaming, id love to see you pull up some proof... I850 + PC1066 was the dominant gaming platform until I875 went mainstream "

On this, you're pretty much correct. Still, the performance advantage was tiny, and the drawbacks huge. Much higher heat, inability to get large sticks, heavily limited selection of motherboards and chipsets...and a far, far higher price.

> "The cost was intentional, and rambus has documents to prove it (linked in this news article)."

I read the documents, and I don't see any smoking gun for Rambus's case. I certainly see evidence of improper contacts. Several manufacturers contacting each other directly for pricing, as opposed to getting it through public sources. I also see Hynix in particularly in a collusion role to raise prices, even more clearly illegal.

But a conspiracy to kill Rambus? All I see is one guy at Micron (?) (lturner, no title), with a one-liner about DDR to drive Rambus out of the market through lower prices. But if you follow through the responses from everyone else at Micron (and the other manufacturers) you seem the results of all their contacts as being to *raise* prices.

So in summary, there is clear evidence of acts illegal under US law. But Rambus's allegations are a whole different ball of wax.

Remember that Rambus isn't a memory manufacturer. They sell IP only. Micron sells chips, not IP-- they're in a different market. They're not allowed to conspire to remove a competitor...but they are certainly allowed to promote one memory standard above another. They're even allowed to collude to that end...though I don't even see evidence of that.


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer














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