Elpida signs $180 million licence agreement with Rambus

Elida has signed a patent licence agreement with chip licensing firm Rambus, which has caused Rambus’ fourth quarter revenue projections to almost double.

Elpida, a major Japanese memory manufacturer, will now be able to continue to make and sell a range of memory products, such as SDR, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, LPDDR, LPDDR2, GDDR3 and GDDR5 DRAM, all of which Rambus holds patents for.

While Rambus has not directly sued Elpida in the past, as it has done for many of the other firms it has secured licence agreements with, its technology was part of the FTC investigation into price-fixing by Elpida and other DRAM makers in 2006. Elpida pleaded guilty then and paid up $85 million. It’s possible that this incident partially prompted its decision to obtain a licence with Rambus.

The deal will see Elpida pay $180 million to Rambus over the next five years, with  $47 million being paid this month.

The agreement has significantly boosted Rambus’ revenue for the fourth quarter of 2010, so much so that the company issued a revenue guidance today suggesting it would earn between $85 million and $93 million in the fourth quarter, up from the between $40 million and $50 million it originally projected.

Rambus was keen to point out that it has now licensed over half of the DRAM market. It is embroiled in a number of legal disputes with other chip and memory manufacturers over other patents it holds, which could further increase its market dominance and revenue base.