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Judge asked to settle Intel-NVIDIA computer chip squabble

by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 18, 2009
A judge has been asked to settle a squabble between the world's largest chip maker Intel and graphics computing specialty firm NVIDIA.

The northern Californian companies have been arguing for a year about whether a deal they inked in 2004 allows NVIDIA to produce chipsets that work with Intel microprocessors that have integrated-memory controller features.

Intel filed a complaint this week in Chancery Court in the state of Delaware, asking a judge to decide which side is right.

"We got to the point where we said 'this is enough," said Intel spokesman Chuck Malloy.

"We aren't seeking an injunction or asking for damages. It has just been a very longstanding dispute and we couldn't resolve it, so we will let the court decide."

NVIDIA president Jen-Hsun Huang fired back on Wednesday, saying his firm is within the boundaries of its licensing deal with Intel.

He charges that Intel's true goal is to stymie graphics processing unit (GPU) technology that is becoming a competitive threat to computer processing units (CPUs).

"At the heart of this issue is that the CPU has run its course and the soul of the PC is shifting quickly to the GPU," Huang said.

"This is clearly an attempt to stifle innovation to protect a decaying CPU business."

NVIDIA, founded in 1993, became renowned for GPUs that drive sophisticated computer game and video hardware.

Its graphics chips have been evolving to augment and even supplant central processing units (CPUs) at the heart of most computers.

While CPUs typically handle tasks in a linear style, zipping from start to finish in series, GPUs work on tasks simultaneously in order to do things such as get color pixels together on screens to present moving images.

Sets of NVIDIA chips built for speed, power, and superior graphics replaced Intel models in upgraded MacBook laptop computers recently rolled out by Apple. MacBook computing tasks are still done by Intel CPUs.

Acer, Alienware, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, MSI, NEC, and Toshiba are among the computer makers that combine NVIDIA and Intel technologies in hardware.

Intel counters that NVIDIA is telling customers of plans to make chipsets that violate the 4-year-old licensing agreement and that it wants to avoid potential troubles before products are rolled out.

"Rather than wait for something to get in the marketplace and cause customers heartburn and problems, let's get it settled now," Malloy said.

"We hope to get this resolved in a fairly quick fashion."

Intel said that while it is not seeking any damages in court, if it wins it will ask that NVIDIA be ordered to pay its legal costs.

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Hynix develops new 40-nm-class memory chip
Seoul (AFP) Feb 8, 2009
South Korea's Hynix Semiconductor announced Sunday it has developed the world's highest-density memory chip using the thinnest process technology.

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