NEW YORK — Samsung Electronics and Rambus announced Monday that they have signed a comprehensive 10-year license agreement extending their relationship and providing Samsung with access to Rambus technology to place within its ICs.
Samsung must pay Rambus $15 million of royalties per quarter for the first five years of the agreement, which extends through 2023. Samsung also must pay Rambus $22 million for the fourth quarter of 2013. Payments for the second half of the agreement may vary and are subject to market conditions. Samsung will have access to Rambusí security technologies in smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, and other devices. Other terms and details of the agreement are confidential.
"This new 10-year agreement symbolizes our ability to add value to Samsung through our core memory and security technologies," Dr. Ron Black, president and chief executive officer at Rambus, said in a press release. "Extending this relationship for a longer term gives us the ability to work with the broader industry on a variety of exciting technology initiatives."
In a conference call Monday, Black said much had changed since the companies reached their previous agreement in 2010 -- in terms of both strategy and tactics. For example, 90% of the DRAM industry is now licensed. He also said the typical five-year agreements of the past have not always served Rambus and Samsung well, since five years is not long in the semiconductor industry. The seven-year agreements Rambus recently announced with Micron were designed as such for this reason. Ten-year agreements are even better, because there's more time for the relationship to develop.
One of the problems Rambus has had in the past is that it gets in the middle of a renewal cycle and wants to collaborate on new technology with its partners. Now the company has a much stronger case, and the customers like the technology, but there's a lot of risk involved. A 10-year licensing agreement (instead of five) removes that risk, he said. Now Rambus is talking about licensing R+ technology as well as getting into chips.
"Before, we were missing that whole upside opportunity," Black said. "Our goal is to develop an additional revenue stream right now in 2014," indicating that Rambus wants a much closer time to revenue in cash as well.
The agreement with Samsung was reached with the same spirit of collaboration in mind as the agreement with Micron. He said Rambus was already working well with Samsung around memory interfaces and security, and the Samsung payments will amount to $60 million a year for the next 10 years. The long-term nature of the agreement ensures very little risk is involved.
Black also spoke of the potential to attract DRAM and SOC customers. He named a half-dozen candidates, including LSI, Broadcom, and Ecostar. "We have positioned the company well for 2014 and beyond."
As part of the announcement, Rambus said it expects its revenue to grow at a low double-digit rate in 2014, and it expects to hold operating expenses flat. It reiterated during a Q&A period that 90% of DRAM companies had been signed to licensing agreements, and that it was looking for resolution or license agreements with SOC companies, as well.
— Zewde Yeraswork, Associate Editor, EE Times