Nvidia may not be licensed for future AMD chipsets

Written by Ben Hardwidge

April 24, 2009 // 2:30 p.m.

Tags: #2010 #am3 #amd #bulldozer #cpu #desktop #licence #license #licensed #nvidia #opteron #pat #patla #server

Nvidia isn’t having a good time in the motherboard chipset business at the moment. Not only has Intel gone as far as suing Nvidia after the company claimed that it had a licence to make chipsets for Core i7, but it now looks as though Nvidia isn’t licensed to make chipsets for future AMD processors either.

Betanews reports that AMD’s server business unit vice president Pat Patla claimed that “for 2010 moving forward, the solutions coming out from AMD will be AMD and on AMD at this time.” The site says that Patla “did not believe the licensing situation between his company [AMD] and Nvidia would enable Nvidia to produce chipsets that support future AMD platforms.”

The comment was made at a press conference where AMD unveiled its new six-core “Istanbul” Opteron CPUs, as well as a future Opteron processor roadmap that showed plans to release its 32nm “Bulldozer” 16-core Opteron CPUs in 2011. According to betanews, Patla said “we don't expect to see new chipsets from Nvidia or Broadcom for server implementations in 2010. But they will continue to support all existing platforms moving forward through 2010."

It’s unclear at the moment whether Patla was only referring to AMD’s Opteron platform when he said “the solutions coming out from AMD will be AMD and on AMD”, or whether this applies to AMD’s desktop platforms as well. As well as producing SLI chipsets for AMD's desktop CPUs, Nvidia has previously had a notable presence in AMD’s high-end workstation platforms too. The nForce 3 Pro 250 chipset was made specifically for AMD’s Opteron CPU, and Nvidia also developed the nForce 680a SLI chipset, which was the only chipset that supported AMD’s dual-processor Quad FX platform.

If this is does indeed pan out to AMD’s desktop platform, then Nvidia’s going to have a tough time in the chipset business. With Intel’s claims that Nvidia has no licence to produce chipsets for Intel CPUs with an integrated memory controller, plus Intel’s plans to tie its “Pineview” Atom CPUs to Intel chipsets with integrated graphics, this would only leave Nvidia with support for old Nvidia and AMD CPUs and VIA’s Nano CPU.

We’ve asked both AMD and Nvidia to comment on this, and to confirm whether the licence restriction applies to just AMD’s Opteron platform, or to its desktop platforms as well. We’ll give you an update as and when we have more information.

Would you be sad to see Nvidia shut out of the AMD chipset market? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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