Intel sues NVIDIA to halt development of future chipsets

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,566member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    Oo, Look who got a Boo Boo!!! Well it happened cause Intel never bothered to do some real improvement over their GMA line.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,061member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Perhaps this squabble is causing the delay of the Mac Pro update?
  • Reply 5 of 34
    ksecksec Posts: 1,504member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    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.



    K
  • Reply 7 of 34
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    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?
  • Reply 10 of 34
    mactelmactel Posts: 1,275member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    I'd love to be the lawyer with that lawsuit!
  • Reply 12 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    Is NVIDIA supplying these chipsets to other hardware makers, or is this mainly an issue with Apple's hardware?
  • Reply 14 of 34
    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...
  • Reply 15 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    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...
  • Reply 19 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    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.
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