Written by Frank Ferro
Change is inevitable. In the high-tech industry we have to continuously adapt to stay relevant. Even the most casual observer of the consumer electronics industry has seen the rapid rate of change in just the last five years. In 2008, for example, most of us were happy with push email on our ‘smartphone’. Then one day you took a curious glance at the person next to you holding a phone that had cool icons and would actually work by simply touching the screen with your finger! You know the rest of the story.
Although the winners in the smartphone market may be settled for the moment, the rate of innovation for underlying semiconductors and intellectual property that enables these and other high-tech devices cannot slow-down – and that’s the main reason I recently joined Rambus.
Having spent the majority of my career in AT&T’s and Lucent Technologies’ semiconductor divisions, I know what it is like to work with leading-edge technology. Joining Rambus gives me the opportunity to provide customers with the most advanced interface technology solutions that are used in a wide range of end-products from high-end servers to devices that support the Internet of Things (IoT).
In just my first few weeks at Rambus, I have seen technology that is second to none. Rambus is known for leading-edge performance in the memory interface market, and our demonstration of our “beyond DDR4” initiative shown at the recent ARM TechCon conference is proof that we continue to drive the interface performance curve. Our beyond DDR4 innovations (part of our R+™ family of technologies) demonstrate a DRAM interface for the next generation server market, running at a data rate of 6.4Gbps with single-ended signaling (compare this to DDR4 max specified data rate of 3.2Gbps). This interface performs at almost twice the data rate of DDR4 yet with 25% lower power consumption. Clearly this is impressive given that the DDR4 market is still in a nascent stage, with no 3.2Gbps DRAMs available yet.
I am also excited about joining Rambus because customers designing complex SoCs need more choices, especially when it comes to IP that is difficult to design, like high-performance interfaces. According to a recent Gartner report on IP, the top five IP providers in 2012 accounted for almost 70% of the total design IP revenue. With recent consolidation in the IP market, this percentage will likely increase, meaning that most of the design IP will be available from just a few companies. Given this, I believe our customers need Rambus since we have the size and technology expertise to solve some of the most complex IP challenges. We are making investments that include high-speed serial links that are performing well above the industry standards along with interfaces for the next generation of memory technology.
Why did I join Rambus? Because SoC complexity is growing to the point that very few system and semiconductor companies have the ability to invest in all the IP needed to meet the ever-changing demands of the networking and consumer markets. Third-party IP now accounts for more than 50% of the SoC die size, so customers need more IP choices from partners like Rambus that are willing to invest with them to solve some of their most challenging problems.
As I am completing my fist 30 days at Rambus, I am very excited to be part of a company that is not only creating next-generation solutions but also working side-by-side with customers to bring compelling products to market.
Frank Ferro is the senior director of product management at Rambus