Nvidia, Intel fight over chipset licensing

Sparks are flying between Intel and Nvidia right now. A statement from the latter about an Intel court filing popped into our inbox this morning, suggesting that Intel wants to keep Nvidia chipsets out of systems with Core i7 processors—and upcoming derivatives likes Lynnfield and Arrandale.

Apparently, Intel thinks its licensing agreement with Nvidia doesn’t cover processors with integrated memory controllers (like the Core i7). Nvidia sees things differently. Here’s the graphics firm’s statement in full:

NVIDIA responded to a court filing in which Intel alleged that the four-year-old chipset license agreement the companies signed does not extend to Intel’s future generation CPUs with “integrated” memory controllers, such as Nehalem. The filing does not impact NVIDIA chipsets that are currently being shipped. Intel is trying to delay the inevitable value shift from the CPU to the GPU.
NVIDIA believes that our bus license with Intel clearly enables us to build chipsets for Intel CPUs with integrated memory controllers. We are aggressively developing new products for Intel’s current front side bus (MCP79 and MCP89) and for Intel’s future bus, DMI.

The soul of the PC has become the GPU and the CPU is becoming less relevant. Intel is trying to prevent GPU adoption since the evidence is undeniable that the CPU has run its course. The rapid shift to the smallest and lowest price CPUs like Atom is a clear reflection of this trend.

NVIDIA has delivered significant platform innovations to the market over the last few years such as SLI, Hybrid Power, and CUDA. ION, our most recent platform innovation, has tipped the industry to favoring the GPU. When paired with a low cost CPU, it is a 2 chip platform offering 10x the performance of Intel’s current three chip design using the same low cost CPU.

This is a clear attempt by Intel to slow the broad adoption of NVIDIA platforms and to protect a decaying CPU business.

For what it’s worth, Intel does seem bent on shutting out competitors to its current integrated graphics products (and likely future IGPs based on its Larrabee discrete graphics processor). The chipmaker’s 32nm Westmere design, which includes an IGP core in the CPU package in both desktop and mobile iterations, looks like further evidence of that.

Comments closed
    • Mr Bill
    • 11 years ago

    Intel would like to find something to do with the extra cores. Shutting out the GPU would do the trick.

    • rohith10
    • 11 years ago

    I’m still waiting for that fabled can of whoop-ass.

    Or are these frequent squabbles a part of it?

    • yuhong
    • 11 years ago

    Yes, the importance of the GPU is indeed exaggerated, but do still keep in mind that the current Intel IGPs are crap compared to NVIDIA’s. Probably Intel instead of improving it’s IGPs are trying to sue the competitor so they cannot produce IGPs for future Intel CPUs.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 11 years ago

    while i think that nvidia is taking things a little far in declaring the GPU the heart and sould of a PC i don’t think that they are far of in observing the shift in function of a GPU. and i do beleive that Intel locking out competitors only reflects how little they care to provide a better consumer experience. and i think history reflects that intel is far less than capable of building a IGP, all there offerings fall squarely inferior to anything the competitors offer, how long has intel been making integrated graphics processors, and they have yet to produce one that is relevant in any way. i feel the only reason that their IGP have any market share if from consumer ignorance. ironically you never here any one say how good they think their intel IGP is.

    • maroon1
    • 11 years ago

    I hope Intel wins, it might mean sli on all intel chipsets not just x58.

      • axeman
      • 11 years ago

      That’s some bizarre reasoning.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        Well, it could occur that if intel denies them the right to make motherboard chipsets for their processors, nVidia will be forced to open up their SLI support further in hopes of getting some extra GPU sales or contracts to offset any losses. That could actually be perceived as good for customers, unless we’d be knocked away from a possible highly awesome nVidia chipset that’s been brewing.

    • Bion1c
    • 11 years ago

    “The soul of the PC has become the GPU and the CPU is becoming less relevant”

    even by the standards of PR releases this is farcical

    somehow i doubt i’ll be deploying my J2EE app on a geforce today

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      NVidia wants your (PC’s) soooull!! 😮

      Eek!

        • DrDillyBar
        • 11 years ago

        More like Apple’s

    • Johnny5
    • 11 years ago

    It’s funny there’s such animosity because there businesses overlap, yet they need each other. They would benefit from a merger/buy out. It’s probably not happening anytime soon with press releases like that though. It always seems to be nVidia with press releases that are a blatant mix of finger-pointing and boasting. It makes for a good laugh though.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    Any time a company ‘believes’ something rather than stating it as fact it’s a sign they’re in for an uphill struggle.

      • UberGerbil
      • 11 years ago

      They are asserting their interpretation of the contract language. Intel has a differing interpretation. Ultimately the “correct” interpretation would be determined by a court. Until that happens, neither side can claim their interpretation to be fact.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 11 years ago

        It’s just wording and I had to have something to say. :p I know what you mean but if they wanted to be more emphatic and were really as certain as they seem to be they’d have no problem saying ‘Our license does entitle us to blabla’ and if it’s not clear enough for them to say it emphatically they probably don’t have it in the agreement.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 11 years ago

    I agree that nVida is drastically overstating the importance of the GPU, it’s own ION platform being the evidence. If the CPU becomes a bottleneck, there’s little if anything the GPU can do to alleviate it as it currently stands.

    CPUs are general purpose processors and are best at non-parallel tasks; GPUs vice versa. Both are needed and there’s no getting around it. Since nV is already working on a combination CPU, GPU, & control chip, why don’t they try beating intel by developing it further instead of this stock-plunging insane PR and legal barrage? Yeah, Tegra is ARM-11-based, but it’s still more efficient per watt.

      • kilkennycat
      • 11 years ago

      They are..full bore. See the recent nVidia Tegra announcement with regard to their demonstrations of Tegra at the upcoming Barcelona cell-phone Symposium – the biggest cell-phone event of the year.

        • SonicSilicon
        • 11 years ago

        Beating Atom to cellphones isn’t what I was thinking of, though I guess any victory would be good for nVidia at this point. Squeezing Debian into such a limited platform doesn’t seem quite worth the effort to get a more robust OS in one’s pocket.

    • PRIME1
    • 11 years ago

    With AMD on its deathbed, Intel can now focus on wiping out NVIDIA. Then they can move on to the hard drive market.

      • bittermann
      • 11 years ago

      FAIL……

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 11 years ago

      I guess the news of AMD being on its deathbed is causing a run on remaining stock, seeing as the price of Phenom IIs is just about skyrocketing, and the price of their next shrunk and cut down cards will be higher than the current more expensive to manufacture ones.

      Intel isn’t killing anyone. It may always be a tooth and nail struggle for every company against them, but that doesn’t mean they can just start picking everyone off.

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      Did you dream that last night?

    • Mentawl
    • 11 years ago

    Hrm, locking out a technology from a competitor….no, nVidia would know -nothing- about doing that, nah uh….*rolls eyes*

    Also, it seems to me that it’s not so much “death of the CPU” as “GPU makers can’t keep up with the CPUs”.

    • nerdrage
    • 11 years ago

    Every company’s wet dream is to have a monopoly. Since Intel can’t have one with their CPU business, they might as well try for one in their chipset business.

    This will create a lot of money for the lawyers, and nobody else.

    (Disclaimer: Intel CPU and chipset owner)

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      /[

        • nerdrage
        • 11 years ago

        Thanks! I lost my head there for a minute 🙂

    • ludi
    • 11 years ago

    An epic cockfight fought out in PR releases. In all liklihood nothing more than a few feathers, some blood, and a small contract regnegotiation.

    • srg86
    • 11 years ago

    I really don’t get all this nVidia BS about how the GPU will overtake the CPU. I can see some applications, but for what I do, I’ll take a powerful CPU over a big GPU any day.

    It’s this cockyness, and chipset issues (data corruption etc) that really turns me off nVidia, I avoid their products if I can.

    On the other hand, Intel shouldn’t be actively trying to lock others out.

      • CheetoPet
      • 11 years ago

      They are both behaving like children. The PR from nvidia was pretty comic tho, reading that you’d think people were trading down their quads for atom’s in droves er some crap.

    • maxxcool
    • 11 years ago

    again? ………..

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    l[

    • clone
    • 11 years ago

    a recession leaves intel wanting to lock away access as long as they can.

    r[

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 11 years ago

      i7s will always be a small part of the market. i5s and i3s(?!?) will be a HUGE part of it.

      If Intel manages to block them out, that means no more Nvidia chipsets, period. Not even for the next version of the Atom.

    • d2brothe
    • 11 years ago

    That report would seem to exaggerate the “decay” of CPU importance.

      • khands
      • 11 years ago

      It’s obviously Nvidia biased, however, I don’t think it’s flat out wrong in any way, just maybe a little exaggerated.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        I couldn’t keep a straight face while reading it. Yeah, the ENTIRE MARKET is moving towards GPU acceleration. We just all have to have our toyish netbooks and HD in a pillboxg{<. <}g

          • Meadows
          • 11 years ago

          The part where they said “the soul of the PC has become the GPU” cracked me up real bad.
          Break it down guys! I won’t believe your PR campaign until Windows can boot from a graphics chip.

            • Forge
            • 11 years ago

            It’s not as far off as you seem to think. We’ve reached a convergence point where CPUs and GPUs have more and more in common, in a few generations more they’ll have identical functionality and will merge faster. After that, yes, you will boot Windows (or some more worthy OS) on what we would now consider a GPU. From the alternate POV, you’ll run graphics on your CPU in a few years. It’s mostly semantics.

            • Meadows
            • 11 years ago

            “In a few generations” doesn’t quite allow for /[

            • eitje
            • 11 years ago

            Future Future Future Perfect, perhaps?

            • Forge
            • 11 years ago

            I was not contradicting you, or denying your observation, I was contributing a corollary observation which agrees with certain interpretations of your statement while not implicitly agreeing with all of them.

            In other words, I wasn’t saying you were wrong, I was just contributing things as I see them. Don’t play the pedant with me, better men than you have tried.

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