MUNICH, Germany – Rambus Inc., best known as a licensor of memory interface technology, wants to be able to license other companies to make whatever comes after flash and DRAM.
And to that end the company has begun investing in startup companies and providing support to universities researching next-generation memory technologies, as a means of keeping itself acquainted with potential approaches, according to Sharon Holt, vice president and general manager of the semiconductor business group at Rambus (Sunnyvale, Calif.).
"We're increasing our memory technology but also look for other large markets to address," said Holt. "As an IP licensor you've got to be ahead of the technology curve," Holt said on the sidelines of the GSA & IET International Semiconductor Forum in Munich.
Holt said that concerns over whether NAND flash and DRAM memory would be able to scale to yet finer manufacturing process nodes has given rise to research into a number of alternative technologies. Holt declined to name companies or technologies that Rambus is working with. "There's nothing we've announced publicly but we have several relationships underway."
In addition to investments in memory technology startups Rambus is providing support to university departments with interesting research in scalable memory.
The IMEC research institute has a collaborative research program on resistive RAM (RRAM) that includes the major memory manufacturers. When asked if Rambus was joining that program Holt said: "We're not formal participant in that program."
Rambus now also has intellectual property in areas beyond memory technology. It began an expansion into LED, display and solid-state lighting in 2009 when it acquired technology and a portfolio of advanced lighting and optoelectronics patents from Global Lighting Technologies. These were augmented with the acquisition in 2010 of a portion of Uni-Pixel's intellectual property portfolio relating to dynamic backlighting, field sequential color displays, and time multiplexed optical shutter display technology. In January 2011 Rambus announced it had acquired the lighting and display patent portfolio technology from Imagine Designs Inc., (Campbell, Calif.).
For an analysis of Rambus's expansion strategy see the December 2010 edition of EE Times Confidential.