Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the largest of the memory manufacturers, has agreed to pay Rambus Inc. licensing fees and royalties on SDRAM, DDR DRAM, and interfacing controllers. The agreement helped reinvigorate Rambus stocks, hurt when Intel Corp.’s plans, dropping support for Rambus memory in all but high-end systems, hit the financial press. The South Korean memory maker is the fifth memory maker to sign with Rambus, joining Japan’s Hitachi, NEC, Oki and Toshiba.
Hyundai, Micron and Infineon are fighting legal battles with Rambus over the SDRAM and DDR DRAM patents, hoping they will be overturned. Some analysts say Rambus gave up significant concessions to convince Samsung to sign an agreement at this critical time. Moreover, one analyst speculated that Samsung wins no matter the outcome of the lawsuits. By signing an agreement now, the company will avoid the penalties that Rambus has promised to companies that refuse to voluntarily license. If the patents are overturned, howoever, Samsung will be spared the fees, without contributing to the legal costs of fighting Rambus. Regardless of the outcome of the patent lawsuits, a group of memory companies, including Intel, has formed a coalition to put together a future memory standard, beginning in 2003, that will not be controlled by Rambus.