Chip, set, match
This week, Nvidia made the surprise revelation it had put its chipset development plans on hold, due to pressure from Intel's legal department, which has long been arguing the graphics firm's DMI license with Intel is invalid.
Nvidia was supposed to have come out with a chipset for Intel's Nehalem/Bloomfield processors, with the firm claiming last year it was committed to using its license to make an nForce chipset for the Lynnfield processors. But when Lynnfield emerged with no Nvidia chipset in sight, questions began to be asked, and the firm finally admitted it had had to postpone its plans until the Intel issue was resolved in court next year.
"Because of Intel's improper claims to customers and the market that we aren't licensed to the new DMI bus and [Intel's] unfair business tactics, it is effectively impossible for us to market chipsets for future CPUs," Nvidia spokesman Brian Burke told HEXUS.
License to chipset
Intel and Nvidia have been embroiled in an ongoing dispute over the terms of Intel's 2004 license agreements. When Intel moved the memory controller inside with its Nehalem offerings, the firm told Nvidia its license to interface to its CPU didn't include DMI. Nvidia argued the license said ‘CPU' and didn't specify what the interface was.
In February 2009, Intel filed suit against Nvidia in Chancery Court in Delaware. Intel says it wants a declaratory judgment saying Nvidia is not licensed under the November 2004 agreements and chipset license for chipsets that are compatible with Intel microprocessors
"We are seeking a declaratory judgment that NVIDIA has breached those agreements by falsely claiming the company is licensed to the Intel technology," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told HEXUS, adding that the lawsuit doesn't "seek money damages or an order from the court enjoining the sale of disputed Nvidia products."
"The issue is what they signed up for in the license. After a lengthy set of discussions we determined that our relationship with Nvidia could not move forward until we determined what that original agreement said," continued Mulloy.
Intel insists it can't be blamed for Nvidia's decision to stop working on chipsets, maintaining that it's an Nvidia business decision. The proportion of its total revenue Nvidia gleans from its chipset business is said to be 30 per cent.