Nvidia countersues Intel over chipset license

— 6:00 AM on March 27, 2009

This is getting interesting. Last month, Intel filed a lawsuit against Nvidia over a chipset licensing dispute. In short, Nvidia believes its license agreement with Intel allows it to produce chipsets for Intel CPUs with integrated memory controllers (like the Core i7), but Intel disagrees.

Well, Nvidia says it has now filed a countersuit against Intel, alleging that Intel is breaching the aforementioned license by trying to block Nvidia from making Core i7 chipsets. And here's the interesting part: Nvidia threatens to "terminate Intel's license to NVIDIA's valuable patent portfolio."

Nvidia explains itself later in the press release, saying Intel "took a license to NVIDIA's rich portfolio of 3D, GPU, and other computing patents" in return for the 2004 chipset license. If Nvidia is victorious, it could put a damper—or collect hefty royalties—on sales of not just Intel's integrated GPUs, but also upcoming Larrabee discrete graphics processors.

This licensing spat sounds a bit like the ongoing dispute between Intel and AMD over the two firms' cross-licensing agreement. Intel thinks AMD violated the agreement when it spun off its foundry business, but AMD believes its competitor's threats to revoke the agreement are themselves grounds for the revocation of Intel's licenses to AMD technology. And, as we all know, Intel uses AMD's x86-64 tech in most of its shipping processors.

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