Rambus And NVIDIA Bury The Hatchet, Sign 5 Year Agreementby Ryan Smith on February 9, 2012 10:53 AM EST
While Rambus has settled in one form or another with most of the major players in the computing industry, one of the remaining holdouts has been NVIDIA. NVIDIA has already lost to Rambus in court over some infringement cases, while cases over other products and patents have been ongoing. As a chipset, SoC, and GPU provider, NVIDIA has a particularly wide exposure to memory-related suits as virtually all of their products contain a memory controller of some kind, giving them ample reason to continue fighting Rambus.
But that fight has finally come to an end. Yesterday Rambus and NVIDIA signed a 5 year licensing agreement, under which NVIDIA gets rights to Rambus's patented technologies, and at the same time both companies drop all outstanding suits aimed at each other. As with other Rambus licensing agreements the specific terms of the deal are private, so how much NVIDIA is paying per the agreement and whether there is a per-product royalty rate attached is unknown.
It's interesting to note though that this comes so soon after two major Rambus losses. In November Rambus lost a major antitrust case against Hynix and Micron, meanwhile in January of this year the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that 3 of Rambus's major patents (the Barth patents) were invalid. The Barth patents have been Rambus's biggest weapons, and they were the patents that defeated NVIDIA in the infringement suit that NVIDIA previously lost. Given the timing of this latest settlement, it stands to reason that a weakened Rambus was willing to settle with NVIDIA on far more favorable terms - to the point where it would be cheaper than continuing the suit - but as the terms of the deal are not public we'll never know for sure.
In any case, with NVIDIA finally settling there are now only a few smaller holdouts remaining. The Wall Street Journal names the remaining parties as LSI Corp (storage controllers, including SandForce), MediaTek (SoCs), and STMicro (everything from SoCs to ICs).
Source: The Wall Street Journal