Print 15 comment(s) - last by Magnus Dredd.. on Jan 17 at 12:54 PM

Spansion to pay royalty fees to Rambus for certain memory technologies

Rambus announced last week that it has won another major license agreement deal with a company called Spansion. In the cross-licensing agreement which will last for five years, Spansion is entitled to a number of Rambus patents that focuses on high-speed memory interfaces and memory designs. The agreement will be royalty base -- like most other Rambus license grants -- and will give Spansion an edge in flash memory design.

Spansion focuses its products on the mobile, automotive and networking markets, where demand for high-performance memory is high. The company was jointly created by AMD and Fujitsu several years ago and today is one of the world's largest producers of flash memory -- a market that AMD very much prides itself in.

"This license agreement with Rambus enables Spansion to expand our memory solutions for cellular phone applications," said Robert Melendres, executive vice president and chief legal officer at Spansion. "Working with the Rambus team to secure access to their patent portfolio will provide us more design freedom as we develop next generation Flash memory technology and solutions."

Spansion is one of many companies that are currently part of licensing agreements with Rambus. AMD, Elpida, Fujitsu, Qimonda, Matsushita, NEC, Renesas and Toshiba are just some of the companies out there utilizing Rambus' technology.

Rambus holds an iron fist over its patents and products its intellectual property with legendary ferocity.  DailyTech has reported on numerous ocassions about Rambus and its exercises in the court room. Rambus recently won a case against Hynix for patent infringement but Hynix isn't the only one. Micron was also recently entangled in court with Rambus over a staggering 18 patent infringement claims.

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RE: hurray
By Acanthus on 1/16/2007 8:08:08 AM , Rating: 0
You apparently dont understand rambus memory technology.

RE: hurray
By Magnus Dredd on 1/16/2007 5:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps, he doesn't... But I do.

Rambus was really only seriously useful in the very high end where the horribly high latency was less of an issue than a very high bandwidth stream of data. This is useful especially in database applications where a stored proceedure may be able to fit into the L2 or L3 cache of the CPU and latency hits from swapping into and out of the L2/L3 cache aren't performance killers. Instead in this niche market (which also includes scientific computing, and video rendering), you use small amounts of instruction and need to stream the data at the CPU as fast as possible. For this to work the CPU has to have a fair amount of cache memory, like most server processors have.

Their only real major innovation was that their interface was serialized in a similar fashion to PCIe. This means that increased bandwith is simply a matter of adding channels (like PCIe). The problem with this is that when you have 4 channels, you have to add 4 sticks at a time, or 2 dual channel sticks. In the server space this is no big deal. You pack a box with 16 dual channel slots and add 4 sticks at a time at a high cost, but massive throughput. The enterprise has machines physically big enough, and they have enough money to shoulder the massive expense. The problem this led to was that the more sticks per channel you install, the worse your latency gets.

So for the server space they had some interesting ideas. For many (perhaps most) generic server tasks (non-static web serving, multiple service machines, etc) the amount of cache is simply not enough to offset the latency issues with instruction swapping and data dependencies. For home use and gaming, Rambus was a poor match. ESPECIALLY couple with the pentium 4 which had such amazing penalties to branch mispredicts due to the length of the pipeline. Rambus made this weakness in the P4 so much worse.

If you would like, I can pull some numbers showing how terribly latent Rambus was. BTW, DDR2 is available with fairly low latencies, far lower than Rambus has ever offered. 4-4-4-12

oh, heres some Rambus... Latency is 40ns!!!!!!!!!!

RE: hurray
By Magnus Dredd on 1/17/2007 12:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd recommend reading the processor related articles in the Ars Technica paedia:

John Stokes also recently released a book "Inside the Machine"

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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