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Intel and NVIDIA have a common enemy -- the resurgent AMD. The pair are reportedly in talks to settle a long-standing lawsuit and increase their cooperation.  (Source: Anandtech)

AMD is currently crushing NVIDIA in the discrete GPU market and gaining ground on Intel in the CPU market.  (Source: AMD)
Union may represent effort to hold off surging AMD

NVIDIA has new GPUs (the 500 series) -- but so does AMD.  And AMD is currently beating NVIDIA in sales of discrete GPUs. 

Likewise Intel, long having dominated the netbook/light laptop market with its Atom process is concerned about AMD's new "Fusion" accelerated processing unit, which packs a better integrated GPU than atom.  Intel's primary hope to hang on to its market share involves pairing Atom with NVIDIA's ION lightweight GPU at an affordable price.  But Intel and NVIDIA have been involved in a bitter long-standing feud that has resulted in Intel making ION offerings more expensive than its own inferior chipset.

But much like Lex Luthor and Superman occasionally do in the comics, these bitter enemies have found cause to try to set their difference aside, while facing a common threat.  The pair was set to go to battle with each other in a trial starting Dec 6 in Delaware's Chancery Court.  NVIDIA and Intel, though, have asked the court to postpone the trial concerning licensing issues to 2011, buying time for a settlement.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang coyly commented, "We’re always in talks.  Our two companies are always in talks."

The settlement would be advantageous to both firms.  Both have grown weary during the long legal campaign, which has stretched over six years, since being filed in 2004.  The legal battle has been filled with suits and countersuits, with both chipmakers trying to deny each other access to their respective technologies, and alleging breaches of contract.

While Intel is the largest CPU chipmaker and NVIDIA is the world's second largest graphics chipmaker, both companies have missed out on potential revenue that could have come from joint products.

If they can reach a settlement, the quality of desktop hardware could be boosted.  By allowing NVIDIA the right to make chipsets for its new CPUs, something that Intel has currently rejected, consumers could gain access to faster gaming and productivity offerings.  And in the netbook sector the pair could at last offer an affordable ION+Atom platform that would mark a true competitor to AMD's dual-threat "Brazos" Fusion chip.

Is NVIDIA finally ready to put away its "can of whoop-ass"?  We should have an answer to that in weeks or months to come.


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RE: I'm confused...
By Silver2k7 on 12/2/2010 1:55:20 PM , Rating: 2
"By allowing NVIDIA the right to make chipsets for its new CPUs, something that Intel has currently rejected, consumers could gain access to faster gaming and productivity offerings."


RE: I'm confused...
By sleepeeg3 on 12/2/2010 2:47:18 PM , Rating: 3
Based on what has been said, Mick's just speculating on what might happen. Mr. Teal's argument is valid - what is the point of this, if they are still "in talks?"


RE: I'm confused...
By DanNeely on 12/2/2010 3:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
The atom is the most prominent location where Intel's platform is failing to meet consumer desires due to a crappy GPU, so picking it as an example seems reasonable.

OTOH didn't Intel already agree to replace DMI with PCIe on future generations of atom to connect to the chipset? If so, nVidia's effectively won that front of the battle; it's mainstream laptop/desktop systems they need to get the rights for DMI/QPI to renter the chipset/IGP market.


RE: I'm confused...
By bruce24 on 12/2/2010 6:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
OTOH didn't Intel already agree to replace DMI with PCIe on future generations of atom to connect to the chipset? If so, nVidia's effectively won that front of the battle;


As part of the settlement with the FTC Intel agreed to support PCIe on it's CPU's for the next 6 years. Something Intel has been supporting and really has to support on it's Core line of processors because they need the option to pair a discrete GPU with it.

On Atom, Nvidia has the right to make a chipset and did, with the Ion and Ion2, but neither was a big seller. Going forward, the Atoms for netbooks and desktops still have DMI, the Atoms for phones/tablets/embedded don't. I think the follow on for tablets will get PCIe in a future version, but the one that was in development before the agreement with the FTC was given an exemption.

With both Intel and AMD's notebook and desktop CPU's adding graphics cores, I don't see what value an Nvidia chipset brings other than better graphics. Since they can add the better graphcis via PCIe with a discrete GPU what extra value to they get for also adding the southbridge functionality?


RE: I'm confused...
By fteoath64 on 12/6/2010 12:16:30 AM , Rating: 2
I hope at least in a compromised settlement that Intel license the integrated-GPU of Nvidia to be put into their mobile iCore and SB chips and get rid of the home-grown IntelGPU which is just junk. The revenue would be positive for both!. At least Nvidia can still make discrete GPU cards and selling discrete GPUs to mobile platforms.

This would "balance" the market somewhat, otherwise, in the next 2 years, the AMD fusion chip will eat into the Atom market and also lower end iCore platforms. Thats more than HALF of the shipping market Intel. I am sure you know.


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