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Intel sues NVIDIA to halt development of future chipsets

post #1 of 35
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Intel Corp. is suing partner NVIDIA to stop it from developing compatible chipsets for future generation Intel processors, a sign that the world's largest chipmaker isn't taking favorably to NVIDIA's encroachment on the market, which has recently resulted in a loss of business from Apple.

In the complaint filed Monday in Delaware Chancery Court, Intel alleges that NVIDIA's plans to develop chipsets for Intel's emerging Nehalem microarchitecture will violate a patent-licensing agreement the two Santa Clara, Calif.-based companies signed back in 2004.

That agreement paved the way for NVIDIA's MCP79 platform, a chipset compatible with Intel's current-generation of Core processors, to find its way into Apple's entire notebook family last October at Intel's expense. However, Intel maintains that the agreement does not extend to new processors that include integrated memory functionality.

"Our 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' family of processors, and that NVIDIA has breached the agreement with Intel by falsely claiming that it is licensed," an Intel spokesperson told AppleInsider. "Nothing in the 2004 license agreement extends NVIDIA's rights to Intel's new CPU architecture."

Both sides have discussed the matter in private for months, and the suit signals Intel's belief that it's run out of alternatives and won't be able to reach an out-of-court arrangement, the Wall Street Journal, which broke word of the suit, reported on its website Thursday.

Speaking to AppleInsider, the Intel spokesperson said discussions to prevent a drawn-out legal bout had actually been ongoing for "more than a year", and the chipmaker hopes the dispute "will not impact other areas of our companies' working relationship."

Since it is believed that the majority of Intel's chips down the road will have integrated memory controllers, as Nehalem does, the suit could have the effect of squeezing NVIDIA out of future chipset markets should Intel prevail.

Nehalem is Intel's codename for a new processor microarchitecture. It's intended to replace the Core microarchitecture found in Apple's existing family of Macs.

The Journal report erroneously mentioned that NVIDIA's Ion chipset is in use with Intel Atom processors in Apple's newest computers, but those Macs actually team Intel Core processors with NVIDIA's MCP79 platform. Apple is not deploying Atom or Ion in any of its products at this time.



Instead, Apple is favoring NVIDIA's MCP79 platform over Intel's own chipset architecture in new Macs, which results in the Mac maker being able to deploy a single, compact chip inside its new systems instead of two.

Proprietary features of MCP79 include DriveCache, which uses flash storage to speed up loading times, and Hybrid SLI, which switches from discrete to integrated graphics to increase battery life. It's also been rumored that NVIDIA chipsets will be used in new iMacs and Mac minis when those models are introduced in the coming weeks and months.

NVIDIA did not respond to requests for comment at press time.

post #2 of 35
Intel probably asked nVidia to sign a further icense agreement and demanded more cash, obviously nVidia didn't play ball so intel have gone to Delaware, the suing capital of the world to seek revenge.
post #3 of 35
Oo, Look who got a Boo Boo!!! Well it happened cause Intel never bothered to do some real improvement over their GMA line.
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post #4 of 35
It's a shame that Intel does not invest in better chipsets with high performance feautres, they wouldn't have to worry about nVidia then.
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post #5 of 35
Perhaps this squabble is causing the delay of the Mac Pro update?
post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelhot View Post

Oo, Look who got a Boo Boo!!! Well it happened cause Intel never bothered to do some real improvement over their GMA line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

It's a shame that Intel does not invest in better chipsets with high performance feautres, they wouldn't have to worry about nVidia then.

So true, while i am a Intel supporter, I hope Nvidia really win this one out. Intel have been giving some crappy chipset and Graphics to us for MANY years.....

Consumers have been suffering because of this. If EU really care about Anti Competitive please have Intel on its list and help Nvidia get their Decent chipset to us.

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post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

Perhaps this squabble is causing the delay of the Mac Pro update?

I'm not sure this update is considered 'delayed.' Certainly the iMacs and Mac minis, but the new Mac Pro-bound Xeons aren't due till the end of next month.

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post #8 of 35
We'll have to see how it shakes out, that depends on what's in the actual contract.

I'd love to see nVidia continue though, sounds like they have the best chipset.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
"Nothing in the 2004 license agreement extends NVIDIA's rights to Intel's new CPU architecture."

I find this very telling. It suggests that whilst there's nothing extending NVIDIA's right to new architecture, critically, there's nothing preventing NVIDIA to new architecture. Whether this is just the way Intel has chosen to phrase the comment, rather than the wording of the agreement remains to be seen.
post #10 of 35
Yet again Intel attempts to overcome it's near-monopoly-inspired lethargy with legal threats. I really hope NVIDIA prevails.

Apple's got to get involved in this. Don't they?
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdasmith View Post

I find this very telling. It suggests that whilst there's nothing extending NVIDIA's right to new architecture, critically, there's nothing preventing NVIDIA to new architecture. Whether this is just the way Intel has chosen to phrase the comment, rather than the wording of the agreement remains to be seen.

I'm sure NVIDIA is brewing an antitrust suit of their own alleging Intel is locking them out of the market unfairly.
post #12 of 35
I'd love to be the lawyer with that lawsuit!
post #13 of 35
Intel=Cry babies who got their arses handed to them in the integrated graphics chip business.

I HATE my Intel integrated graphics chipset in my first gen MacBook. I was happier more than words could explain when NVIDIA was put in all of the MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
post #14 of 35
Is NVIDIA supplying these chipsets to other hardware makers, or is this mainly an issue with Apple's hardware?
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post #15 of 35
Nvidia always did produce the best chipsets...

Its about time someone stood up to intel and reminded them that they are not and never did make the best chips...

people want quality and performance.. and intel just cant give us that with there own designs..

Nvidia should tell Intel where to get off...
post #16 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

I'm sure NVIDIA is brewing an antitrust suit of their own alleging Intel is locking them out of the market unfairly.

This was my first thought.

It seems egregious on the face of it to have to have a license of any kind to make chips that work with the main processor. If intel can force other chip manufacturers or even end users like Apple to only use intel chip-sets that's anti-competitive by definition isn't it?

This kind of gets into the same territory as the Apple OSX licensing/copyright fiasco vis a vis PearC and Psystar, in that it depends on where you draw the line around what "the product" is. In this case, if intel only ever sold the CPU with the chip-set as a unit, they might have a case, if they sell the CPU separately, but then also insist that only their parts be used with it, that's "bundling" it seems to me.
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post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Is NVIDIA supplying these chipsets to other hardware makers, or is this mainly an issue with Apple's hardware?

Other pc makers use the chipset, as well. I'm waiting for (hoping) that the 9400m chips find their way into the next gen mac minis. That's all that I need. Wish Apple would show some love on this and release the mac mini 3.0 next month.
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post #18 of 35
Can't Apple technically push their weight on this and say "Hey, we want Intel chips, and we want nVidia graphics. If you can't deliver we'll look elsewhere"? Though Apple would have to care for the consumer to do this, and I'm not sure what else they would go with.
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post #19 of 35
Finally a lawsuit that has some validity. I was getting sick and tired of all those wannahaveits sueing (Apple) just to get their slice of someone else's success.

Having said that, I agree with the general feeling here that Nvidia should prevail. Just a few more of these jokes and I see Apple producing their own chips...
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Finally a lawsuit that has some validity. I was getting sick and tired of all those wannahaveits sueing (Apple) just to get their slice of someone else's success.

Yup, surprisingly I had the same very feeling.
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post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

Perhaps this squabble is causing the delay of the Mac Pro update?

The Mac Pro does not include integrated chipsets for graphics, which is what the article is about.
post #22 of 35
Assuming Nvidia is not violating a patent or whatever, the thing for Intel to do is drop this lawsuit and get busy designing even better chips.

This is the problem with monopolies. Competition is the fire that drives innovation.

If I were Intel, I'd take it as a challenge. Let their excellence drive you to better, faster, cheaper, cooler.

Not everyone has Apple's ethos - self-driving innovation and excellence. Intel should recognize their need for competition and do everything possible to encourage it.

They don't have a record like Apple's and would suffer if the legal system helps pave their way to mediocrity.
post #23 of 35
Intel should buy Nvidia. Like AMD bought ATI.
post #24 of 35
I would say Intel will get a call from Jobs then after he has made them cry on the phone the matter will all go away.
post #25 of 35
Do you think that this action could be the cause of the delay in the Mini? If the used an NVIDIA chip set, they would need to redesign if their supply is constrained ... or worse go to a less efficient chip set in a later model.
post #26 of 35
Does Intel really want Apple to start having talks with AMD?
post #27 of 35
Multiple issues with the comments here...

Nvidia does NOT have a problem with MCP79, this is also not a problem for a mac mini with MCP79. Nvidia allegedly claimed to be able to supply chipsets for the FUTURE Intel chips (i.e. Nehalem etc...)

and Secondly, what does Intel care so much if Apple doesn't like it anymore, Apple recently tied itself to x86, and mostly to intel, they'll keep coming.

Thruth is Intel needs to develop something good in terms of chipsets and not the crap they've been feeding us for the last... well forever
post #28 of 35
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post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

Perhaps this squabble is causing the delay of the Mac Pro update?

Possibly if Apple is conflicted on what direction it wants to go.
post #30 of 35
I was happy with nVidia supplying chips for laptops. The 9400 is a fabulous platform and I was hoping to see more solutions from them in the future.

We are all going to lose from this...
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by unscriptable View Post

Yet again Intel attempts to overcome it's near-monopoly-inspired lethargy with legal threats.

Ah, yes, Intel's near-monopoly-inspired lethargy must be why we're still using PowerPC.
post #32 of 35
Quote:
Does Intel really want Apple to start having talks with AMD?

This would never happen. The more likely scenario, if Apple were to drop Intel, would be to develop their own chipset and work with Nvidia on that. They already are almost certainly developing something in-house for the new iPhone, and having PA Semi now makes things much easier.

Quote:
what does Intel care so much if Apple doesn't like it anymore, Apple recently tied itself to x86, and mostly to intel, they'll keep coming.

I may be completely out of the loop, but what are you talking about in regards to Apple being tied to x86? Snow Leopard will be a 100% 64-bit OS, and even if it weren't, x64 chips are still able to run x86 software (AMD). Again, I may be completely out of it and not know what I'm talking about, but that was my knowledge. Feel free to correct me.
post #33 of 35
Intel should focus it's energy on making better Processors and GPUs (if thats possible for Intel). Nobody is forcing Intel to make inferior Integrated Video Graphics Chip, Intel does it by choice. By suing Nvidia Intel is forcing us to use the shitty Intel Graphics Card, Intel don't bite the hand that feeds you.
post #34 of 35
Apple could never rationalize the R&D expense associated with the MPU business, Intel's core franchise. Apple is stuck with the x86 architecture (it was the right choice given the lack of support/extensibility for the PowerPC MPU/architecture) and there are two vendors of x86, one of which is incomparably stronger financially, with superior process technology and a killer "tick/tock" development cycle which is, as we are now seeing, producing new processors at a truly remarkable pace -- later this year, you will be able to purchase a box with one of a number of Nehalem 32nm (!) multicore processors that should deliver much higher performance than the 45nm Penryn devices they replace. The other vendor is financially weaker, has less ability to migrate its process technology and fabricates far fewer of its own MPUs.

Intel has a lackluster but acceptable record of providing the chipset surrounding their MPU. The NVIDIA device is monolithic, which fact, coupled with a superior internal architecture, delivers much, much better performance, greater reliability (the flicker issues with MBP 15"s notwithstanding) and should deliver a better power dissipation profile (although I haven't looked at the comparative specs).

Intel has an absolutely terrible, no, breathtakingly bad record of purchasing tech companies, both semiconductor device companies and subsystem companies, including but not limited to the several billion dollar aggregate acquisition consideration used to buy a variety of communications companies, most of which have been quietly shut down or significantly compromised in value in Intel's hands. Do not wish for an Intel acquisition of anything, particularly NVIDIA.

I suspect that an important issue here is the fact that it is difficult to create a working chipset solution to accompany an Intel MPU without Intel's cooperation. If a device company waits for Intel to sample the MPUs before the heavy design work commences, then it's already too late to produce the device and have a reasonable "time in market" before Intel burps out the next MPU iterations. In addition, because no box can be built without the MPU AND the chipset in place, if Intel -- and no one else -- has the chipset available when the MPU is ready, then the OEM system engineers have no choice but to design in the Intel part. This enables Intel to sell demonstrably inferior semiconductor devices if the functionality of those devices is essential to creating a complete system. In other words, if you have the best MPU, then you can get away with having mediocre devices wherever their function is required to have a complete system.

I don't know what discussions have occurred over these many months between Intel and INVIDIA. I for one wish these companies would cooperate to provide the same advantages, from the user's perspective, with respect to Apple's Nehalem boxes that we are now seeing with Penryn/Core.
post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

It's a shame that Intel does not invest in better chipsets with high performance feautres, they wouldn't have to worry about nVidia then.

It is such a shame Intel can't even make a GPU that doesn't suck majorly, they wouldn't have to worry about nVidia then. Intel is spooked, because, besides Nvidia chipsets, some of the stuff like video encoding and Folding (Stanford), do it on an Nvidia GPU and it destroys Intel's CPUs.

The biggest irony is that Intel and Nvidia need each other for the best benefit of their profits and the consumer, IMHO. Intel makes excellent CPUs. They have great fabrication tech that Nvidia needs. Nvidia's fabrication methods and GPU design, while becoming more powerful, look at the GTX 280, for example. It's huge and long, hot, noisy, takes double-wide slots in a PC. I am not a chip engineer but I'm sure Intel has some secrets it could license to Nvidia to get Nvidia GPU's down to 45nm and further and other such advances.

I'm too tired right now to describe Intel-Nvidia merger benefits but there you go, I'm laying it out on the table. Intel and Nvidia working closely together could pretty much wipe AMD and ATI off the map in a few years... Intel and Nvidia need to put some fighting aside and work better together.

I bet AMD and ATI is loving this bru-ha-ha between Intel and Nvidia because AMD/ATI can give you the whole shebang - CPU, Chipset, GPU. It's just a pity the whole Phenom and Spider and Dragon and what not platforms don't quite live up to expectations.
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