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Rambus appointed Ronald Black as the new president, chief executive, and director of the company today as it continues to design electronics that improve the communications speed of semiconductor chips.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based publicly traded company is a relatively small one, but it is strategically important. The company creates and licenses memory interfaces and other technologies to large numbers of chip makers around the world. Rambus isn’t always popular because it enforces its patents on the industry, but no chip maker can afford to ignore it.

Black replaces Harold Hughes, who announced plans to retire earlier this year. Hughes will stay on the Rambus board.

“We are pleased to have Ron join Rambus. Ron’s experience in managing through complex businesses at various levels and helping them achieve objectives make him an excellent fit for the next phase of Rambus,” said J. Thomas Bentley, chairman of Rambus. “Harold has done an excellent job putting Rambus in a solid position for growth and we look forward to his continued contributions as a Board member.”

Black said in a statement, “Rambus has a long history of strong technology development with some of the world’s best inventors solving some very tough problems. There are tremendous opportunities ahead in the lighting and security businesses as well as in the traditional semiconductor business.”

Black has more than 20 years of experience running companies in the chip and mobile markets. Prior to Rambus, he held the CEO job at MobiWire, formerly Sagem Wireless, UPEK, which later merged with AuthenTec. He was also the CEO at Wavecom, a publicly traded French wireless company. And he worked at Agere Systems, Motorola, and IBM.

Rambus suffered a legal defeat in November in one of its many litigation battles. The company lost a jury trial where it alleged that it suffered $3.75 billion in damages because Micron Technology and Hynix Semiconductor allegedly conspired to prevent Rambus-licensed chips from becoming a standard in order to avoid paying royalties. Rambus shares fell 61 percent on the day of the verdict.


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