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JEDEC Fiddles With DDR4 While LRDIMM Burns 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the patents-are-complicated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "JEDEC hasn't finalized the upcoming DDR4 standard yet, but it seems they left out licensing some crucial IP for (the already finalized and shipping) LRDIMMs (for use on data center servers). As a result they are only produced by one source which is facing some hurdles justifying their copying of IP. This article discusses how DDR4 is based on LRDIMMs and the future of memory. Quoting: 'JEDEC finalized the LRDIMM standard without securing licensing on load reduction and rank multiplication. Inphi, currently the only maker of LRDIMM buffer chipsets – others have backed off – lost a challenge of Netlist IP at the USPTO. As a result the Netlist patents have become stronger and are going to come back and bite Inphi in Netlist vs. Inphi, which was stayed pending these patent reexaminations – patents which survive re-examination can never again be challenged in court. NLST patents ’537 and ’274 survived with all claims intact, which is a powerful statement on the strength of their IP – Inphi has appealed to the BPAI, but the USPTO decision is telling.'"
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JEDEC Fiddles With DDR4 While LRDIMM Burns

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  • by Rix (54095) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:15PM (#40270303)

    To promote the progress of science and useful arts. Imagine where we'd be without them!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps we wouldn't have LRDIMM memory either since no one bothered to invent some of the technology that has apparently made it possible.

      We probably wouldn't have many new start-ups either as the incumbent players would just continue to rip off everything they invent. The only way you could possibly make something is if the design or manufacture could be kept secret, leading to the possibility of lost knowledge should the few who know how something is made fail to pass that information on to others.

      The pat

      • by leromarinvit (1462031) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:40PM (#40270447)

        The patent system is certainly not ideal in its current implementation, but that's not an excuse to scrap thing entirely.

        I suppose you didn't want to infringe on the patent on using articles in conjunction with nouns?

      • by sjames (1099) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:48PM (#40270473) Homepage

        You must be kidding. Startups don't get patents that support them. They either get themselves a patent they can't afford to defend (and so it does nothing but cost) or they get squashed like a bug by a big incumbent with a huge portfolio.

        • by St.Creed (853824)

          Startups without patents don't get investors. If they have patents the investors will look at them and if they like what they see, invest their money AND help defend those patents. If you don't have patents, you don't have a chance at venture capital unless you aren't building new IP but instead do services or build existing product under license or do something else that doesn't require you to defend your IP from people who could easily reverse engineer and copy it.

          • by sjames (1099)

            That certainly has been true, but was simply a matter of the investors over-valuing the patent. Investors saw it more as a signifier that they had an actual idea and were organized than anything else. These days, patents are losing importance to investors as they realize that they don't even say anything about inventiveness. In any event, that had little to do with the actual utility of the patent. They would be better off if there was no such thing.

        • by rgbrenner (317308) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:43PM (#40270827)

          Netlist was founded in 2000 and had revenues of $14 million last quarter.

          They are not (as far as I can tell) a patent troll.. they design and manufacture memory subsystems.

          JDEC made sure all of the big players IP was properly licensed, but left out Netlist's patent. How do we know the big players weren't just trying to screw them over?

          http://www.netlist.com/about-netlist/history/ [netlist.com]
          http://www.netlist.com/about-netlist/quality-and-manufacturing/ [netlist.com]
          http://www.b2i.us/profiles/investor/ResLibraryView.asp?ResLibraryID=54253&GoTopage=1&Category=1629&BzID=1941 [b2i.us]

          • by sjames (1099)

            Netlist is not a small startup. They're 12 years old, well past their IPO, have 200 employees and 60 million in revenue. Even with that going for it, you noted that their patents seem to have been ignored by the larger players as if they didn't exist.

            • by rgbrenner (317308)

              They may not be a startup, but 60 million in REVENUE is not a large company. They have a slight loss each quarter, and have $23 million in total equity.

              They're competing against
              Micron - 8.4 billion in revenue & 26,000 employees
              Kingston - 6.5 billion in revenue & 4500 employees
              Samsung - 250 billion in revenue & 344,000 employees

              They ARE a small company in their industry.

              • by sjames (1099)

                Since the topic I replied to was startups, Netlist isn't a relevant example.

                Compared to a 747, an elephant is extremely lightweight and portable but I still won't take one on the bus with me.

                Finally, I have seen no evedence that patents enabled Netlist to exist, nor even arguments as to why that is likely true.

                Given that, I'm a little confused why you believe them to be at all relevant to the point I disagreed with above.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                NLST is a small company now - but they underwent a restructuring to focus on high margin IP based products. They moved their manufacturing to China in preparation for that change. And are now set to produce in volume from there. R&D and company is U.S.

                NLST is the inventor of VLP - very low profile memory for blade servers - and used to be a big shipper to IBM.

                They have now resumed VLP to IBM for the current Intel Romley rollout.

                Currently NLST valuation does not include HyperCloud/LRDIMM type sales -

      • So you prefer that, instead of big players ripping everyone's work off, the big players would sue everyone smaller to oblivion, like they do today?
  • Maybe they should consider new branding. Without any context the above article could be about any technology or company.

    ABC hasn't finalized the upcoming DEF standard yet, but it seems they left out licensing some crucial IP for (the already finalized and shipping) ASDFGH

  • JEDEC Fiddles With DDR4 While LRDIMM Burns

    I like to give people the benefit of the doubt[1].

    But I can't find any substitution that makes the shitty headline even resemble the [probably apocryphal] quote about the horse fucking wop-in-chief.

    There's fail, there's epic fail and then there's faileroony.

    [1] this is a lie. But the dice said I should, at least this time.

  • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:40PM (#40270451)

    "patents which survive re-examination can never again be challenged in court"

    Wrong. A party that files an inter partes reexamination petition and that petition for inter partes reexamination is granted by the PTO (initiating an inter partes reexamination), may not "assert[] at a later time, in any civil action. . . the invalidity of any claim finally determined to be valid and patentable on any ground which the third-party requester raised or could have raised during the inter partes reexamination proceedings." 35 USC 315(c)

    So, anyone other than Inphi (or its privies) may challenge the patents' validity in Court on any grounds, including the prior art that was before the PTO in the Inphi v. Netlist reexam. Moreover, Inphi could challenge the patents on "any ground which" Inphi did not "raise" and "could" not "have raised" in the inter partes reexamination. This would include, at a minimum, any ground for invalidity other than prior art in the form of other patents printed publications. 35 USC 301, 311(a). I.e., invalidity under 35 USC 101 ( patentable subject matter, utility), 112 (indefiniteness, written description, enablement) and 102(b) (public use, on sale).

    Also, Netlist amended a bunch of claims, which typically raises major worries about validity for written description.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      So basically if they fuck up a reexam, everyone but them gets to defend themselves if they get sued.

      Sounds like an incentive not to gamble on the reexam in the first place.

  • As a result they are only produced by one source which is facing some hurdles justifying their copying of IP.

    I am the only one who's annoyed by the poster's complete lack of critical reflection on those "IP" claims? Are the IP lawyers and lobbyists now getting their anonymous postings on slashdot, too? I'm close to deleting my /. account.

    BTW I'm also annoyed by the fact that people got so used to the somewhat nonsensical oxymoron "Intelectual Property" [gnu.org].

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Please don't quote RMS. if you have a quote from Torvalds or Perens or frankly anybody else then great, but RMS tried to claim "if you can't update its a circuit [fsf.org]" so the man's logic isn't even consistent with itself anymore. hell if you go by that then the PS2 is FOSS friendly since you can't update it so its a circuit and if you disabled updates for the PS3 and X360 then they'd be circuits as well. The man honestly doesn't even make sense [gnu.org] with his own logic anymore (you can see and modify JavaScript but it

      • by dvdkhlng (1803364)

        Please don't quote RMS. if you have a quote from Torvalds or Perens or frankly anybody else then great, but RMS tried to claim [..]

        I won't consider myself a RMS fan or a free software zealot, just by knowing some of RMS' opinions and quoting them when I think they provide a valid point on some issue. On the other hand, you seem to be a complete anti-RMS zealot. "Please don't quote RMS"? Just because some of his stuff is too extreme for your taste?

        You think Torvalds is any better? Hey, I have a quote for you (source [kerneltrap.org])

        We will hereby start scouring the net for people who say git is hard to understand and use, and just kill them. They clearly are just polluting the gene pool.

        If I were you, I'd rather ask people to not quote Torvalds than to not quote RMS.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Uhhh...its pretty obvious it was just Torvalds being a frustrated programmer and joking about a piece of software that was being a giant PITA, which we've ALL been there. Try working with some of the DRM heavy niche software like Solidworks or Rosetta Stone and see how quick you want to hunt down those DRM designers and just smack the shit out of them with a large carp, just ignorant shit.

          Now compare that to the two links I just gave, RMS' big claim to fame is the GPL and yet the man isn't even consistent o

          • by dvdkhlng (1803364)

            Uhhh...its pretty obvious it was just Torvalds being a frustrated programmer and joking about a piece of software that was being a giant PITA, which we've ALL been there.

            He was "joking" (?) about *his* piece of software, Git, quite clearly claiming that people complaining about it are just idiots. Using a pretty offensive language (even if just joking), on a public mailing list. If Linus was a little bit more open-minded or tolerant or spending one second of his time thinking about the users of his software (let's better call them victims), I think he might at least acknowledge that the problem might with Git's lack of consistency, lack of documentation and general comple

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              Sigh...he is NOT talking about putting it into ROM, that is impossible with that chip. What he is talking about is putting a software "lock" on the chip so you can NOT UPDATE and that somehow magically makes it a "circuit" which just shows how cult like the man is, how he can just manipulate language to his own ends.

              Its like how his FSF sues people for violating the GPL but he says stealing copyrighted code is fine and dandy, even labels it "sharing with a neighbor"...WTF? Ya can't have your cake and eat i

              • by dvdkhlng (1803364)

                Sigh...he is NOT talking about putting it into ROM, that is impossible with that chip. What he is talking about is putting a software "lock" on the chip so you can NOT UPDATE and that somehow magically makes it a "circuit" which just shows how cult like the man is, how he can just manipulate language to his own ends.

                This is about putting dedicated hardware on board to load default firmware from a flash-ROM into the Marvell WLAN chip, so you d o not need to load the firmware after every boot. There is plenty of explanation on the project page [goldelico.com] , and quite clearly it writes

                The task is to develop a prototype of a microcontroller that sends an immutable firmware program through an SDIO interface into a Marvell 8686 based WLAN chip independently from the main CPU.

                But why bother reading about details when it is so much fun to just complain and whine and repeat your half understood rants on half understood topics, right?

                Its like how his FSF sues people for violating the GPL but he says stealing copyrighted code is fine and dandy, even labels it "sharing with a neighbor"...WTF?

                I won't even start to tell you how many mis-statements are contained in this sentence, let alo

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  "All hail the one true god!" which is sadly EXACTLY what you sound like. you can't come up with an argument because the man's bullshit isn't consistent so you go "la la la M$ Ninja poopy head, la la la" which is why the community looks like nutters for associating WITH a nutter.

                  So be sure to stick your fingers in your ears tightly, make sure those dogma blinders are nice and secure, and I leave you with a final image of your hero [youtube.com] acting like a crazy homeless guy. just remember THAT is who you are defendin

  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:57PM (#40270529)

    After the RAMBUS-scum ran their scam by participating in JEDEC and then patenting the standard elements, I would expect JEDEC to have gotten smarter. Apparently not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes but this was a problem perpetuated by Intel.

      LRDIMMS can be used in DDR3 systems NOW. And guess what, they're 10 times the price.

      The company that makes the chipset is actually in the kind of situation Qualcomm is in, not RAMBUS. Where if they sue someone for copying their IP, they face being sued back, but they're certainly within their rights to enforce their IP. If they were to sue any of the RAM stick manufacturers (eg Kingston, G.Skill, Crucial, etc) they likely will not buy their product, and DDR3 w

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Hmm. Convincing, I have to admit.

      • by yuhong (1378501)

        They did not have to throw away P4 because of RDRAM, but they did have to throw away Timna.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They did not have to throw away P4 because of RDRAM, but they did have to throw away Timna.

          Right, they had to throw away the P4 because they ran out of headroom, they couldn't make it go any faster without nitrogen cooling. Now the P4 is gone and we have faster clocks and lower power consumption.

  • self promotion - (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichMan (8097) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:03PM (#40270551)

    The blog referenced is by the Yahoo Finance NLST stock group poster vicl2012v. He writes the blog, then uses references to it on the NLST Yahoo stock board to back up his points. Totally self referential.

    http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_(A_to_Z)/Stocks_N/threadview?m=ts&bn=51443&tid=52454&mid=52454 [yahoo.com]

    The Yahoo stock board is the usual UN-moderated open mess of spammers, and self interested parties both overplaying and hiding their interests.

    As the post here is submitted by anonymous draw your own conclusions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:26PM (#40270731)

    I've read and re-read this article summary four times. I haven't the foggiest idea what the OP is actually trying to convey. Can someone who has had the days of time needed to research all the background post a readable summary?

    • by jandrese (485)
      Next generation computer memory is going to be delayed and your next computer is going to be slow because one company is being a jerk with patents.
    • Re:WTF Is this shit (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @11:07PM (#40271973)

      Layman speculation, don't take this as gospel. I think it's mostly accurate, though.

      JEDEC is a big consortium of technology companies that designs RAM standards. SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4? Those were all designed and standardized by JEDEC.

      As for LRDIMMs: all sorts of problems start to pop up when you start adding more than 8 or so sticks of RAM per processor. I'm not an electrical engineer, but the basic gist is "things do not work properly". There have been various schemes to combat this in the past: FB-DIMMs (fully buffered), R-DIMMs (registered), and probably some others I can't think of; they generally involve some sort of tradeoff to beat that whole more-than-8-sticks-of-RAM problem. LRDIMMs are the "next generation" of this. Useful for data centres and servers where you need a huge amount of memory in a small space.

      Anyway, it appears that JEDEC finalized the LRDIMM standard, but failed to license a few very important patents. So it seems that this one company (Inphi) went ahead and started making chips for LRDIMMs, but didn't realize (or didn't care) that they were infringing on some other company (Netlist)'s patents. Netlist sued for infringement and won. This is a troublesome situation because it seems JEDEC has created a standard which requires third-party licensing. The reason that is bad is that Netlist could completely choke off the supply of chips for LRDIMMs if they decide to set their license fees too high. Or Netlist could try to gain a monopoly as the only producer of these chips. It's possible for Netlist to really screw with adoption of LRDIMMs.

      And there's some mention that DDR4 (not yet finalized) may have similarities to the LRDIMM standard, which may have similar consequences, just for DDR4.

      The article isn't that great. It seems to be more of a financial hot-tips kind of thing, as RichMan somewhat suggests elsewhere in these comments.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @07:48PM (#40271183)

    ... that's the end of the standards. They'll have to go back to JC-42 and JC-45 to be redone.

    JEDEC has been down this road before and I'll be astonished if they make an exception in this case. And, yes, I know JC-42 and JC-45. I spent years on them.

  • I think what folks are forgetting here is - it is not a fight between a small company (NLST) against a big company (Intel, Samsung).

    Or a small company squeezing Intel/Samsung.

    The thing to remember is Inphi copied Netlist IP - then based a WHOLE IPO worth millions of dollars on the basis of a lie - that they owned the IP to load reduction and rank multiplication and that they had developed it at JEDEC.

    IDTI (another LRDIMM maker who has since scaled down and postponed LRDIMMs) did not subscribe to that - and

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