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Shares in Rambus, a US memory chip designer, rose nearly 20 per cent on Thursday after it released emails in support of its antitrust litigation against chip manufacturers Samsung and Hynix of Korea and Micron of the US.

But Micron responded that the emails collected during a Department of Justice price-fixing investigation were unrelated to the San Francisco lawsuit where Rambus accuses the three of trying to exclude it from the memory market. The emails made available by Rambus were the result of its successful court action to get evidence unsealed to help its case.

One email sent in June 2001 by Linda Turner, an international sales vice president for Micron at the time, comments on Hynix lowering its prices for DDR (Double Data Rate) memory.

“No problem!” she writes. “We want DDR to explode in the marketplace so have actually been requesting Infineon, Samsung and Hynix to lower their DDR pricing to help it become a standard and drive Rambus away completely.”

Other Micron emails suggest the company’s salesforce is concerned at pricing of DDR, with major PC manufacturers Dell and Compaq seeming to prefer RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory) chips designed by Rambus.

Daniel Francisco, spokesman for Micron, said yesterday: “Rambus has attempted to bootstrap the DoJ price-fixing investigation into a supposed boycott of Rambus Dram.”

“Rambus Dram was a failure in the marketplace because it was too costly and any performance differentials were not sufficient to justify the inherent cost differences.”

Rambus shares closed 18.5 per cent higher at $28.75 on the news.

Meanwhile, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported on Thursday that worldwide sales of semiconductors grew 8.1 per cent year-on-year to total $19.6bn in April. Sales of D-Ram chips grew by 3.7 per cent from March’s total and were up 7.7 per cent on a year earlier.

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