Rambus Targets Portable Devices with XDR Memory Derivative

Rambus Aims New Markets with New Technologies

by Anton Shilov
10/30/2007 | 10:49 PM

In the recent years various mobile and handheld devices considerably increased their performance and capabilities thanks to miniaturization of electronics components. As a result, the consumer no longer wants simplistic special-purpose device, but appreciates broad functionality of today’s portable electronics. Along with other companies that take advantage of the trend, Rambus is also targeting mobile devices with a new technology.


Even though XDR memory technology developed by Rambus currently provides highest per-device bandwidth, which is important for small form-factor (SFF) devices and consumer electronics, the advanced memory has not become popular neither among designers of SFF personal computers or consumer electronics. With a clear understanding that XDR will not skyrocket its popularity shortly, Rambus is developing its derivative for handheld devices, which will boast with high bandwidth amid ultra low power consumption.

“We’ve made what I think are some astonishing breakthroughs in low-power technology that are in many cases as much as 80% [more efficient] over existing technology. […] We’re looking forward to making our mark in the low-power and mobile market. Our approach will be to use the bandwidth cores available with XDR, but to use our very low power interfaces to drive those. […] It most likely won’t be XDR as we know it, but it might be derived from XDR. It has to be high bandwidth and extremely low power and it has to have low packaging cost,” said Harold Hughes, chief executive officer of Rambus, in an interview with IDG News Services agency.

The main focus of the new memory will be put on low power consumption and, in fact, Rambus can already claim some respectable achievements in that direction.

“We have introduced some very interesting low-power technology. We put out a [research paper] and we showed that we could deliver 2.2Gb/s at 100 milliwatts (or 0.1W). Mind-bogglingly low, 2.2mW per Gigabit per second. We could run it off two-double AA batteries. The joke we was that we would try to get it to run off of a potato. We passed 3600Tb (Terabits) of data through our interface with two-AA batteries, which is the equivalent of 100 DVDs,” Mr. Hughes explained.

XDR and XDR2 memory chips can function at 4.80GHz – 8GHz clock-speeds and can provide both leading capacity and bandwidth per device, thanks to Rambus’ proprietary technologies. Nevertheless, memory manufacturers, who once produced RDRAM memory without much success, are reluctant to start ramping up production of XDR in anticipation for demand. Meanwhile, consumer electronics do not want to adopt a type of memory that is not widely available. To avoid this situation going forward, Rambus plans to start working with consumer electronics makers ahead of memory production ramp.

“[We will develop/market the new mobile memory type not] only through our suppliers, but also [will turn to] to some of the major players in the cell phone industry to bring them to market in 2008 or 2009,” said Mr. Hughes.