The XDR products are doing very well in the gaming products and we'll talk about the HDTV market. It's truly amazing the kind of compute requirements there, but it's also a consumer electronics product so it's got all the issues of cost and it's also the size, the electronic migration, the fans and stuff, so it's really bandwidth per device, and that's where XDR really stands out, in bandwidth per device. Such that with one or two XDR devices, you can get adequate to deal with the 5-10Gbps of bandwidth these televisions are using. That's where working with companies like Elpida and other licensees we can have an adequate supply of XDR so we can do great things in the HDTV market.
IDGNS: What PC trends will help push more Rambus memory into PCs?
Hughes: The new generation of computers is going to have these multiple core processors, which are just driving incredibly attractive and interesting PCs. What's interesting is the nature of the cores. They are not only standard compute cores, but they are also graphics cores. For us, we're very happy on multiple levels. That's going to produce a greater need for memory bandwidth. In particular, the multi-core processors that have compute and graphics have conflicting needs insofar as the memory architecture is concerned. The computing requires capacity and graphics requires bandwidth. Rambus has a product called the XDR which offers multiple gigabytes of capacity and quite remarkable bandwidth, and in fact Elpida has productized a 4.8GHz part, so that's a pretty speedy product.
IDGNS: Rambus appears to be doing well in products at the top-end of the market, such as game consoles, but how is the company working to target the mainstream and lower-cost markets?
Keep in mind that we believe that embedded in DDR2 is no small part of Rambus technology and that unfortunately is the subject of lots of litigation and there's no indication that's going to stop in the near future. I think that's always inevitable with our business model. I think that's almost inevitable given our business model, putting aside the litigation aspects of it. For a 400-person company to have impact and for IP to have value, you must solve problems well out into the future. Those problems are only going to be usable initially be a relatively small subset, but as that then starts to proliferate through more supply and costs come down, then you see those products trickle down to the $200 laptop.
I don't see that that model is going to change. We are working on memories that have truly staggering performance. Initially those will probably be actual parts incorporating as many of our features as possible, but by definition because of their performance there will be a limited number of applications that need it, but X number of years later, not only will those discrete parts become cheaper and likely migrate into higher volumes, but the ingredients in those parts are very likely to go into very low-performance, low-cost applications that are used widely.
IDGNS: What else do you see for 2008 that's big?
Hughes: Games will improve dramatically. The software development kits are continuing to improve such that I think games will be able to take advantage of more of the cycles. You know how they CAT scan a brain when its thinking? Well I suspect if they were to do the same thing with a cell processor on current games, it would show that a lot of those transistors aren't being turned on, especially when you're using an abstracted development code.
Ultimately [game developers] will learn how to directly address hardware more and more and I think you'll see those games coming out more in 2008 and they'll probably be spectacular, frankly. Of course, I've given up on games. Competing with your son is, well it's so humiliating. You're getting killed in a game and you don't even know what's going on.