AMD Licenses Rambus Patent

In a coup for technology licensing firm Rambus , AMD
has signed a five-year patent license covering
technology owned by Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus.

Specifically, the patents include designs related to the DDR2, DDR3
, FB-DIMM, PCI Express and XDR controllers, as well as other current and future
high-speed memory and logic controller interfaces Rambus has planned. Rambus
has similar broad patent license agreements with Intel and several large
Japanese manufacturers, though the contract length and some other specific
terms may vary, according to the company.

The marquee customer for the high speed XDR controller is Sony, which
will include it in the Playstation III videogame system due for release this spring in Japan and in the United States in the fall.

Rambus announced details of a new XDR2 memory interface in July at a developer’s
in Tokyo. The XDR2 memory interface uses a micro-threaded DRAM
core and circuit enhancements that enable data rates starting
at 8GHz, which Rambus said makes it five times faster than today’s
best-in-class GDDR graphics DRAM products.

In addition to patent licenses, Rambus also does some technology licenses
where it essentially does the product design work. “We’ve seen with many
customers that once we get the patent license in place, many will come back
and work with us [under a technology license], and we hope that’s the case
with AMD,” Sharon Holt, senior vice president of worldwide sales, licensing
and marketing, told

“For many companies, it might be lower-cost to have our engineers do the
work or simply a matter of convenience where they would rather spend the
time on their own core competency and get a quicker time to market. Memory
controllers are what we do,” she said.

Holt acknowledged technology licensing deals can take years to negotiate.
In the case of the AMD deal, Holt said the deal reflected a new, lower-priced licensing model that it expects will lead to more agreements in 2006
and beyond.

“With AMD, we recognize that the controllers are getting bigger and more
complex, integrated right onto the microprocessor,” said Holt. “We took a
hard look at that getting more expensive, and I think we succeeded in
[offering] a more reasonable compensation.”

“The license of our patent portfolio with AMD’s demonstrated innovation
the microprocessor market is highly compelling,” said Harold Hughes, chief
executive officer at Rambus, in a statement.

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