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Rambus not busted yet

Scott Wasson
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Rambus stock took a beating yesterday in the wake of an online report claiming Intel was planning to nix Rambus support in its mainstream products in favor of DDR SDRAM:

The details of the roadmap are further evidence that the rupture between Intel and memory-design partner Rambus Inc. has widened, even to the point where Intel is planning to introduce a double-data-rate SDRAM-enabled chip set for desktop PCs. Industry sources said the companies are engaged in negotiations over Intel’s demand that a clause barring it from fielding its own DDR chip set until 2003 be stricken from its licensing contract with Rambus.

This news, combined with positive reviews of AMD’s DDR chipset, sent those loopy Rambus investors to their web browsers, frantically clicking the “trade” button on RMBS as quickly as possible. This excellent performance analysis by Bert McComas probably didn’t help matters, either. (But it’s a good read.)

The Rambus stock plunge inspired this not-so-friendly eulogy by Dr. John. He provides a nice summary of Rambus’s long march to widespread public derision through patent abuse, legal bullying, and technical mediocrity. But his upbeat pessimism about Rambus’s chances of survival seems a little off to me. First, perhaps because they haven’t negotiated their way out of their agreement with Rambus, Intel denied the EBN report, claiming:

“Nothing has changed at Intel” regarding Rambus, said Intel spokesman Michael Sullivan. “Our roadmap is that we’ll be supporting Rambus really as our primary solution for performance desktop systems — that’s true today and that’s what we see going forward.”

Second, a company like Rambus is very hard to kill. They don’t make anything. All they need to do is live off of their Playstation 2 royalty checks from Sony, and occasionally feed some cash to their attack-dog lawyer pack.