TOKYO -- Toshiba Corp. announced it has extended its licensing of Rambus Inc.'s technology to cover synchronous DRAMs, Double Data Rate (DDR) memories, Fast Cycle RAMs (FCRAMs), and controllers that directly interface to those memories. The new agreement requires Toshiba to pay higher royalties for those chips than the rates on Rambus DRAMs, said the two companies, which did not release details about those payments.
Rambus said its patent portfolio covers fundamental aspects of high-speed memory interfaces, including techniques used in SDRAMs, DDR SDRAMs, FCRAMs, and controllers connecting to those memories.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is currently fighting Hitachi Ltd. over patent rights to interface technologies in a range of microprocessors and memory chips, including SDRAMs and DDR devices. The case is being reviewed by the U.S. International Trade Commission (see April 20 story). Hitachi has countered, asking that the ITC include other Japanese chip makers--including Toshiba--in its probe of Rambus' patent infringement complaint (see May 4 story).
Toshiba struck the new licensing agreement to ensure that it has the rights to "important Rambus patents, which are necessary to continue providing our customers with their choice of memory and logic products " said Yasuo Morimoto, president and CEO of Toshiba's semiconductor company. "Toshiba will continue to be a leader in providing RDRAMs and Rambus-compatible logic products," he added.
Some industry observers suggest that Rambus is attempting to make sure it collects on royalties while it waits for RDRAM volumes to increase. The move to collect royalties on non-Rambus DRAMs also could increase the cost of competing memory formats.
The new pact with Toshiba includes royalties for SDRAMs and controllers that directly interface with synchronou s DRAMs, as well as a license fee for the entire technology agreement, said Rambus.
"We have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Toshiba. Rambus develops and licenses IP -- our objective is to produce innovations that will benefit the semiconductor and systems industries, and by licensing these innovations to generate a return on investment to our shareholders," said Geoff Tate, Rambus' chief executive officer of Rambus.
"We believe our Rambus memory interface is the best solution for the majority of the market," Tate added. "Developing and marketing the Rambus memory interface has been and remains our top priority. But we are willing to license our IP [intellectual property] for other memory interface solutions as well."