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Rambus Finds Eager Licensees for its New Memory

Computer memory maker Rambus Monday said it has entered a licensing deal to put two of its new technologies in products made by Sony , its Computer Entertainment division (SCEI) and PC maker Toshiba.

The Los Altos maker of RDRAM said it's agreement covers two new high-speed interfaces, codenamed "Yellowstone" and "Redwood." The technologies are expected to be used in future broadband applications using the "Cell" processor, a joint development between Sony, Toshiba and IBM .

Rambus licenses its technology to both Sony for its PlayStation 2 video-game console as well as Toshiba for its notebook computers. Rambus said the partnerships are extensions into the logic interface that support next-generation systems that require high-speed processing of large graphics and audio data.

"We are pleased that our ultra high-speed logic-to-memory and logic-to-logic solutions are key technologies to produce a wide range of future systems," Rambus CEO Geoff Tate said in a statement.

Rambus licenses its technology in the form of ASIC cells that are incorporated into high-performance memory and logic chips. The cells and system-level solutions are incorporated into hundreds of products by all of the top-name semiconductor manufacturers.

"Yellowstone", which Rambus demonstrated at last year's Rambus Developer Forum in Japan has been available for licensing since the summer. Currently at 3.2GHz data rates, Rambus claims "Yellowstone" is much faster than the best available DDR memories. The company is already working on its next generation.

The other technology, "Redwood," is an ultra high-speed parallel interface between multiple chips. Rambus says the system delivers a data rate about ten times faster than the latest processor busses, while maintaining lower latency and lower power consumption.

"The use of Direct Rambus technology in PlayStation 2 was essential for its performance," said Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Ken Kutaragi. "Rambus is and will be the key player in the ultra high-speed interface technology. This enables us to create a wide range of applications and platforms from high-end systems to digital consumer electronics products within Sony Group."

Sony would not comment if Rambus' technology would make it's way into the eagerly awaited Sony Playstation 3 platform due to hit the market in 2005.

The announcement may be overshadowed by Rambus' legal troubles. Last year the U.S. Justice Department looked into allegations that accuse Rambus of anti-competitive practices in the DRAM sector.