Intel files suit against Nvidia

Written by Tim Smalley

February 18, 2009 | 14:07

Tags: #chipset #controller #integrated #lawsuit #licence #license #nehalem

Companies: #intel #nvidia

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."

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