No bias, just trying to understand. I have enough knowledge of the topic to have a lot of very serious technical questions about Netlist's claims. How/why do claims around what amounts to an LRDIMM count against memory channel storage, which is - at least at first glance - completely different.
The only bit that would seem to be the same is that somewhere on those chips there is a widget that allows the CPU to "talk to" more address space than it was designed to. Address conversion, if you will. Electrically and logically you need to address flash completely differently from RAM. But at the end of the day there is still some widget that is allowing you to address more memory on that bus than you should by all rights be able to.
Now, Diablo claims that they have the rights to that particular piece of tech because they, in fact, invented it. More to the point, they claim the contract lets them use that tech. Fair enough; if that's true - and we'll see soon enough, I guess - then what is Netlist on about?
So that leads into the second round of claims: IP around battery-backed DIMMs. Unless you have a patent that basically says "we patent non-volatile memory in all forms" there's nothing similar between a battery-backed DIMM and a flash DIMM. Initial research didn't show Netlist having anything like such an overly broad patent.
Netlist borders on impossible to get hold of, but the Diablo CEO was entirely willing to have a grand old chat. Talking with him helped me understand that technical side of things a lot more, and the details around that cleared up at least some of my misunderstanding around the legal mess.
That said: there's a lot of posturing here, from both companies. From a technical standpoint, I still can't see how Netlist has much in the way of a claim, but I openly admit that the patents involved may somehow be interpreted to be more broad than my non-legal mind is capable of understanding.
The take away is that the dispute here centers around the fact that Diablo once did contract work for Netlist, and then moved on to do their own thing. Netlist feels that Diablo's "new thing" is sufficiently similar to the contract work that they once did that Diablo must clearly have used IP they own, be that inadvertently or purposefully.
Honestly, I have no idea if any of those claims will hold up, because intellectual property law isn't connected to technical realities in any way that I have yet been able to grok. But from a technical standpoint, the technologies involved are pretty far apart...with the exception of the widget that allows the CPU to address a larger address space.
Diablo claims they own the rights to it, and Netlist seems to have dropped all claims to it. So...why are they still fighting? On Netlist's side, I honestly have no idea. They will provide you canned statements about the whole thing, but not sit down and explain their reasoning. On the Diablo side, the reason is - quite clearly - pride.
The Diablo CEO is prideful. What's more, he quite clearly believes he is in the right. He will see this through because he feels strongly that Netlist is morally wrong in having wasted so much of his time and Diablo's money on this whole affair. Having talked to him, I believe that he honestly believes this.
So, I don't know about any of you, but this just keeps dragging me back to the technology side of it. The whole thing really bothers me because I just don't understand it. Is there something about my understanding of how the electrical signalling of the DRAM bus works that is inaccurate? Is my understanding of basic computer components really that flawed?
Diablo's CEO would have me believe my understanding of the gubbins of a computer is more or less correct. Netlist won't provide more than a canned explanation. For now, at least, that's the closest to "understanding" this situation as it looks like I'm going to get.
I welcome any alternative hypothesis - especially technical ones - that explain where or how Netlist has a case here. At the end of the day, all the technologies involved: LRDIMMs, NVDIMMs, Memory Channel Storage...it's all just so cool to me. The nerd in me just has to make sure he really understands how it all works.