Faced with uncertainty over the future use of memory chips featuring its proprietary high-speed interface in PCs, Rambus looks to carve a niche in networking hardware and expand its reach into the consumer electronics markets, a company executive said in an interview with ARN at Comdex.
Within the next two years the company hopes to see around 30 per cent of its revenue come from licensing fees related to chips used in networking hardware, around 20 per cent from consumer electronics applications such as game consoles and high definition television, and the remaining 50 per cent from the PC market, said Avo Kanadjian, vice president of worldwide marketing at Rambus.
Rambus' main source of revenue are the licensing fees paid by chip manufacturers such as NEC and Samsung Electronics for use of the proprietary Rambus high-speed memory interface in dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Rambus itself does not manufacture any chips.
Known as RDRAMs (Rambus DRAMs), the devices have been chosen by Intel for use in systems powered by its soon-to-be-released Pentium 4 processor. Recently, however, Intel has signalled that it will also introduce support for competing memory chip technologies.
Currently, the vast majority of Rambus' licensing revenue comes from the PC business with the only sizeable exception being the RDRAM chips used in Sony's PlayStation 2 advanced game console. "The PC is still our most important market," Kanadjian said.
The networking equipment business is a new market for Rambus, but Kanadjian expects revenue from that segment soon.
"(The networking business) is going to be very important," he said. "We're very, very committed to the networking business."
Networking hardware vendors, including PMC-Sierra and Vitesse Semiconductor, are designing Rambus DRAM chips into their products and the first commercial examples are expected soon.
"I believe the first products that are going to ship with our DRAM are slated for the first quarter of next year," he said.