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Intel files suit against Nvidia

Intel files suit against Nvidia

We have just learned that Intel has filed suit against Nvidia, asking the court to make a declaratory judgement relating to two four-year old license agreements.

We have just learned that Intel filed suit against Nvidia late last night in which it alleges that the four-year old chipset license agreement the two companies signed is not valid for Intel's current and future generation CPUs with integrated memory controllers.

This includes Nehalem - a chip that Nvidia has repeatedly claimed it holds a chipset license for. Intel, as evidenced by this filing, begs to differ.

In some ways, this doesn't come as much of a surprise, since the relationship between the two companies has become increasingly tense over the past six to twelve months. Nvidia claims that the CPU has become a commodity item, while Intel claims the same has happened to the GPU.

In response to Intel filing suit, Nvidia claims that Intel is stifling innovation and spokesperson Ujesh Desai said the company is confident that the license it signed still applies to current and future generation CPUs. "We're defending ourselves," he explained. "For the past year, we have been working with Intel to come to some kind of agreement on this, but the talks proved unsuccessful."

Intel said a similar thing in a statement:

"Intel has filed suit against Nvidia seeking a declaratory judgment over rights associated with two agreements between the companies. The suit seeks to have the court declare that Nvidia is not licensed to produce chipsets that are compatible with any Intel processor that has integrated memory controller functionality, such as Intel’s Nehalem microprocessors and that Nvidia has breached the agreement with Intel by falsely claiming that it is licensed. Intel has been in discussions with Nvidia for more than a year attempting to resolve the matter but unfortunately we were unsuccessful. As a result Intel is asking the court to resolve this dispute."

Desai said that Nvidia isn't planning to change its roadmap and hinted that Nehalem-based chipsets are on schedule for release in the future. He wouldn't confirm details of the chipsets at this time, reminding us that Nvidia doesn't talk about unannounced products - it's always worth a try, though. However, he said that the roadmap extended beyond processors that are already on the market.

Finally, Desai was quick to answer our concerns about how this might affect delivery of Nvidia's Ion platform - it is not a part of this squabble like all of its current shipping products. Intel itself said that it hopes this dispute "will not impact other areas of our companies' working relationship."

Discuss in the forums.

There's more from Intel here.

22 Comments

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tejas 18th February 2009, 14:23 Quote
Typical bully tactics by Intel. Nvidia should have had a chipset out for Nehalem but were strong armed into providing SLI on X58 which is a disgrace imo. Funny how AMD doesn't go back on its agreements with Nvidia even though both are bitter GPU opponents!

Intel better watch it as this will only add more impetus for the EU antitrust case with AMD. This clearly shows that Intel are abusing their dominant position. How does a 700 million Euro fine sound to you Intel in the middle of a severe recession?
kenco_uk 18th February 2009, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas
Typical bully tactics by Intel. Nvidia should have had a chipset out for Nehalem but were strong armed into providing SLI on X58 which is a disgrace imo. Funny how AMD doesn't go back on its agreements with Nvidia even though both are bitter GPU opponents!

Intel better watch it as this will only add more impetus for the EU antitrust case with AMD. This clearly shows that Intel are abusing their dominant position. How does a 700 million Euro fine sound to you Intel in the middle of a severe recession?

I couldn't agree more.

Intel 'Please help us sell more of our x58 boards'

NVidia ' Hmm.. well.. okaaay'

Intel 'kthx!'.. 'er, btw don't go making your own boards to support OUR chip, k?'
n3mo 18th February 2009, 15:13 Quote
As expected from Intel. They should focus on making a good CPU, not "500% more money for 7% more performance". Cases like this are why I don't buy anything from Intel since Pentium PRO.
Tokukachi 18th February 2009, 15:30 Quote
Interesting, well have to see what happen in the court room. Though I'm sure this will probably be settled out of court.

BTW, when did you guys start using that stupid In-text advertising, all it does is annoy people!
genesisofthesith 18th February 2009, 15:31 Quote
It won't affect the ION platform as it's FSB based - it's the QuickPath interface that Nvidia don't have a licence to.

As long as Intel are willing to negotiate over licencing the interface I don't see the problem - Nvidia don't automatically gain rights to a new Intel developed interface, but at the same time if Nvidia can offer mutually agreeable terms for licencing the tech Intel shouldn't refuse just to restrict competition.
DXR_13KE 18th February 2009, 16:03 Quote
what about AMD/ATI?
Tim S 18th February 2009, 16:09 Quote
I've updated after speaking to Nvidia and receiving a statement from Intel. I'm hopefully talking on the phone with Intel this afternoon to answer a few more questions as well.
MrMonroe 18th February 2009, 16:19 Quote
I still don't understand why Intel feels compelled to funnel as much money as possible to a subsidiary of its only relevant competitor in the CPU market by shutting out nVidia. They need to get over themselves and realize that nVidia will always be able to provide better high-end graphics than their own on-board chipsets, and start exploiting that relationship to drive AMD/ATI out of the market instead of inviting them further in.
proxess 18th February 2009, 16:47 Quote
Oh well... lets just look at this in a positive sense, AMD/ATI grow, thus keeping an equilibrium in the market, all thanks to Intel's and nVidia's (not so) recent ranting.
tejas 18th February 2009, 16:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
Oh well... lets just look at this in a positive sense, AMD/ATI grow, thus keeping an equilibrium in the market, all thanks to Intel's and nVidia's (not so) recent ranting.

Sorry but some people like AMD + Nvidia solutions and not AMD + ATI solutions. Nvidia have been making chipsets for AMD before AMD ever was! Still Nvidia are the leading suppliers of AMD chipsets on the server side of things and Nvidia are the ONLY competition for Intel and AMD chipsets. Without Nvidia Intel and AMD could charge whatever extortionate price they wanted for their chipsets...

Nvidia = competition pressure on Intel and AMD chipsets = lower prices
Kode 18th February 2009, 16:57 Quote
Intel are probably just trying to get more money from NVIDIA in anticipation of the money they are going to lose when ION is released.

You got quoted on Dailytech btw http://www.dailytech.com/Intel+Sues+NVIDIA+Over+Chipset+Manufacturing/article14322.htm and i seem to remember an item quoting them a couple of days ago, i find it quite amusing that the 2 tech sources i read every day read each other as well :D
genesisofthesith 18th February 2009, 17:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kode
Intel are probably just trying to get more money from NVIDIA in anticipation of the money they are going to lose when ION is released.

Hardly, if Intel are charging almost the same for the standalone atom CPU as for the CPU and Chipset combo if anything the profit margin would be higher for Intel on ION designs than for Atom+945g designs.

It's only the newer x4500HD chipset that ION will be competing with - and thats largely a draw with the exception of gaming (which will be awful on both anyway) and CUDA.
boiled_elephant 18th February 2009, 19:31 Quote
Quote:
Nvidia claims that the CPU has become a commodity item, while Intel claims the same has happened to the GPU.

And to an extent, they're both right ^^

They're both shameless fashion items on the hardware market now, but it doesn't matter as long as they remain good hardware. Which they seem to be doing.
RDST 18th February 2009, 20:07 Quote
I have one thing to ask: If the four year license is still with in its terms of contract, then what legal dispute is there? Intel and Nvidia are in an contracted agreement, how can it be broken?

Granted I don't know the fine print, but that's just my view.
azrael- 18th February 2009, 21:07 Quote
I'm not really on nVidia's side here. While Intel may be strong-arming nVidia on current and next-gen chip(set) licenses, nVidia has pretty much done the same with SLI.

If you wanted to run SLI on a motherboard, that motherboard needed to be based around an nVidia chipset even though that is *not* necessary (as evidenced by the X58 "software" SLI licenses). All that's needed is some driver logic and 2 PEG slots.

ATi, on the other hand, has never denied Intel the use of CrossFire technology, even after AMD bought ATi.

Also, claiming that nVidia makes superior chipsets is playing a bit fast and loose with the truth. While nVidia certainly makes better IGP chipsets than Intel their chipsets as a whole are usually riddled with bugs. I have to say I'd take an Intel (non-IGP) chipset over one from nVidia any day. They're just more stable.
Adnoctum 19th February 2009, 02:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tejas
Without Nvidia Intel and AMD could charge whatever extortionate price they wanted for their chipsets...

But it won't. Intel and AMD are PLATFORM competitors. How many times have you seen in Bit-Tech reviews comparing price/performance of platforms? If nVidia stopped or is not allowed to make chipsets for Intel CPUs, do you really think Intel will double the price of their chipsets? When AMD has similar/slightly less performance for less than half the price?
Quote:
Originally Posted by RDST
If the four year license is still with in its terms of contract, then what legal dispute is there? Intel and Nvidia are in an contracted agreement, how can it be broken?

Intel is claiming that the licence covers ONLY those CPUs that use a FSB, basically Socket 775 (Core 2 Duo/Quad) and Socket 603/604/771 (Xeon) CPUS (and surely Atoms?), but NOT those with an Integrated Memory Controller such as the new Core i7s that use QuickPath Interconnect (QPI).
nVidia says the licence does cover the new QPI.
It depends on what the wording of the licence is, but Intel looks confident and nVidia is looking worried so I would think that nVidia is screwed.

I'm betting that Jen-Hsun is wishing that he'd left that can of Whoop-Ass in the fridge!
Adnoctum 19th February 2009, 03:12 Quote
Looking at comments here and on other sites, I'd like to make a few points.

Nobody has an automatic RIGHT to make products using another company's technology, even in the name of competition. This is why technology has to be licenced, to protect the rights of the inventor/developer. This isn't an anti-trust issue, as they are not attempting to use their power to coerce partners/customers. They are simply protecting their IP.

I don't know the laws regarding technology Intellectual Property, but if it is like Trademark laws, if Intel does not enforce their rights over their technology, they run the risk of the technology becoming ubiquitous and losing control over it. Someone please correct this if this is wrong.

I have no love for Intel and their dubious ethical history, but...
Intel owns the technology, they can do what they like with it.
If you think it sucks, if you think it stifles innovation, if you think it smacks of playground bully, if you think it is an outrageous abuse of power, please feel free to email Intel as I'm sure they'll love to get your thoughts!
Sebbo 19th February 2009, 09:10 Quote
i don't think any of us can really make an argument for or against either Intel or nVidia without seeing a copy of the license itself. However, just from the manner of the spin coming from both companies it seems like Intel will prevail in this case.
If Intel does in fact win, then they will have a great upper hand when it comes to negotiating a new license with nVidia. It's nVidia that needs the license, Intel's only concern is the money they'll get from such a license
Nikumba 19th February 2009, 10:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by n3mo
As expected from Intel. They should focus on making a good CPU, not "500% more money for 7% more performance". Cases like this are why I don't buy anything from Intel since Pentium PRO.

I am just curious what you would class as a good CPU??

If the wording in the contract defiens chips that use FSB and not QPI then Intel is well within their rights to have things re-jigged

Kimbie
n3mo 19th February 2009, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikumba

I am just curious what you would class as a good CPU??



In the good ol' days, when I moved from T-Bird to Palomino there was ~20-25% increase in performance with 20% lower power consumption and similar price. Now Intel made i7 wchich is ~5-10% faster than c2d, costs 500% more and uses more power. That's how they roll, it was exactly the same with Pentium 4. Not worth my time.
kenco_uk 19th February 2009, 15:41 Quote
Aye, the 'leap' (of faith/doom*) from Pentium 3 to 4 was catastrophic. It did mean AMD were able to lord it around for a few years with their AthlonXP/64 chips, though. Intel did at least came back with decent competition with the Core processor (took them long enough though).
John_Zoidberg 26th February 2009, 19:48 Quote
In the good ol' days, when I moved from T-Bird to Palomino there was ~20-25% increase in performance with 20% lower power consumption and similar price. Now Intel made i7 wchich is ~5-10% faster than c2d, costs 500% more and uses more power. That's how they roll, it was exactly the same with Pentium 4. Not worth my time.[/QUOTE]


Ok so when i look at my CPU, which is a QX9770 it sells for $1459.99 and the new core i7 extreme edition is $999.99, with these massive increase in prices I understand where you get the 500% profit margins, and the 5-10% performance gain. If you make a statement about performance to cost at least look things up. Its cheaper and gives better benchmarking performance. I build PCs for aliving and i honestly will help some one build either way but people who hate on intel for statements that aren't true just look like they are uninformed. The quad core CPUs that are available that are non extreme editions are resonably similar in price, barring the premium that always gets slashed for the higher end cpus with the first price drops, that everyone should wait for. But if you want to stick with a hard line I HATE INTEL mantra then go for it but dont open your mouth about massive profit margins compared to small performance gains when you haven't looked up the prices.
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