Old foes Qimonda, Rambus<br /> back in business

Qimonda, the memory company spun off from Infineon Technologies last May, has signed a deal with former courtroom adversary Rambus to make the memory used in the PlayStation 3.

Rambus' XDR memory technology is the key to the deal, announced Wednesday. XDR is a high-performance memory design for specialized devices like gaming consoles or networking devices, but it's not on the radar screen for PCs. Still, Sony is expected to eventually ship a bunch of those PlayStation 3 consoles we've heard so much about, so Qimonda is jumping on board.

Rambus and Qimonda--when it was still a part of Infineon--tangled for years in an epic courtroom battle over the patent rights to the SDRAM standard used in PCs. Rambus believes that SDRAM chips infringe on its patents. But for several years the memory industry cried foul, pointing out that Rambus was a member of the organization that drew up the standard and should have disclosed its patents. However, Rambus started winning courtroom skirmishes after an appeals court declared that the standards-setting organization had a poorly worded disclosure policy. Several companies have started to think settlement rather than pay potentially huge royalties. Infineon and Rambus called it a day in March 2005.

Rambus tried to market its own RDRAM technology to compete with SDRAM about seven years ago, but SDRAM proved very capable at a fraction of the cost. For its second act, Rambus is trying to make a go with the XDR technology in the console market. It has now added Qimonda to other XDR licensees such as Samsung, Toshiba, IBM and Advanced Micro Devices.

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