Rambus, Inc.

By Robert Burgelman, Vik Murthy, Paul Staelin
2001 | Case No. SM82
This case examines the strategic position of Rambus, Inc. The company designs, develops, and licenses high-speed chip connection technology to enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of computers, consumer electronics, and communication systems. The company’s technology is integrated into dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips and the logic devices that control them. Since Rambus did not manufacture chips, it was directly influenced by chip suppliers (such as Intel) who controlled the price and supply of DRAM chips and stood between Rambus and the OEMs that used these chips. A further complication for Rambus stemmed from the company’s involvement in several costly legal battles with much larger competitors over the ownership of prevailing DRAM standards. The case looks at the challenges facing Rambus in 2001 as it seeks to balance its interests with those of its business partners (including an increasingly strained relationship with its major partner, Intel) while maintaining a technological lead over its competitors and defending its intellectual property from legal attacks. Teaching Note available
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