Intel Corp is paying US$1.5 billion to end a fight it started with Nvidia Corp over a key computer technology.
The legal battle centered Nvidia’s ability to make “chipsets” that are compatible with Intel’s latest processors — a fight that has implications for many of the world’s computer users, since Intel and Nvidia’s chips are ubiquitous.
Nvidia is a top maker of graphics chips. Intel is the leader in microprocessors, the “brains” of personal computers. Both companies also made chipsets, which are used to help both types of chips talk to each other, among other jobs.
Intel sued Nvidia in February 2009, alleging that Nvidia would need to pony up for a new license to make chipsets that are compatible with Intel’s latest processors. Nvidia countersued, arguing that a license it has had in place since 2004 is sufficient.
Both sides had a lot at stake. Intel needed the patent deal for access to Nvidia’s graphics technologies. Nvidia needed it because without the ability to talk to Intel’s processors, Nvidia’s chipset business would be essentially dead. Indeed, Nvidia announced in October 2009 that it was exiting the chipset business.
Intel will pay Nvidia US$1.5 billion in licensing fees over the next 5 years as part of the deal announced on Monday.
The reason Intel finds itself in the unlikely position of paying Nvidia is that Intel gets a license to Nvidia’s entire patent library out of the deal, while Nvidia gets a license to some of Intel’s patents, but not those covering Intel’s primary products — particularly microprocessors and chipsets based on the so-called x86 design.
The settlement comes as the companies are adjusting to their changing roles in the semiconductor industry, as smartphones and tablets force chipmakers to design smaller and more energy efficient chips and the explosion of high-definition content online has placed an increased premium on high-quality graphics.
Intel’s general counsel, Doug Melamed, said the settlement “preserves patent peace and provides protections that allow for continued freedom in product design.”
Nvidia chief executive Huang Jen-hsun (黃仁勳) said the “agreement signals a new era for Nvidia” and “reflects the substantial value of our visual and parallel computing technologies.”
Parallel computing is the equivalent of multitasking — making computers process different types of data at once, an approach that’s critical for rendering graphics.
Huang added the agreement “underscores the importance of our inventions to the future of personal computing, as well as the expanding markets for mobile and cloud computing.”
Nvidia’s stock rose 3.9 percent, or US$0.80, to US$20.64 in extended trading, after the agreement was announced. Intel stock gained a penny, or 0.1 percent, to US$20.70.
The companies’ dispute speaks to their shifting roles.
Intel, dominant in PCs, is facing the rise of smartphones and tablets that use lower-power chip designs than the one Intel uses.
Nvidia, whose graphics chips have largely been popular with gamers, is trying to boost its profile with mainstream computer users as more people stream high-definition Internet video through their computers, which is taxing for chips that aren’t specifically designed for it.
Those pressures have put Intel and Nvidia more in competition with each other. Intel has been trying to not only reduce the power consumption of its chips to get into the new types of mobile devices, but also to improve its chips’ graphical performance — with the aim of luring business from Nvidia. Meanwhile, Nvidia has been trashing Intel publicly, arguing that graphics chips that can do general-purpose processing as well are the future. Nvidia has also announced plans to build its own general-purpose processors based on the lower-power standard.
Intel also had to pay for another recent settlement with a rival.
In 2009, Intel agreed to pay its primary rival in microprocessors, Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD), US$1.25 billion to settle AMD’s antitrust allegations.
From the customer’s perspective, car rental is a straightforward business. The only uncertainty is whether the hire company will charge you for the scratch they discover when you hand back the vehicle. Hertz Global Holdings Inc’s bankruptcy protection filing on Friday last week was a reminder that today even the simplest business models are underpinned by a lot more financial complexity than meets the eye. The proximate cause of Hertz’s demise was of course the sudden collapse in bookings caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The company’s monthly revenue last month fell 73 percent year-on-year, a shortfall that even the most resilient
Uber Technologies Inc, Lyft Inc and Airbnb Inc have slashed thousands of jobs. Salesforce.com Inc and Visa Inc are letting employees work remotely for months; Twitter Inc and Square Inc are allowing them to do so for good. For the companies’ hometown of San Francisco, the moves are early signs of a dire blow. In a city with a long history of booms, busts and natural calamities, the COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly upended nearly a decade of prosperity. While municipalities across the US are grappling with economic fallout from the virus, San Francisco stands to take a deeper hit given its high
BULK PURCHASE: The French chain and Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International reached a deal covering 224 stores, which is expected to be finalized by year’s end Carrefour SA yesterday announced it would acquire Wellcome Taiwan Co (惠康百貨) for 97 million euros (US$108.33 million), and bring all the Wellcome supermarkets (頂好超市) and Jasons Market Place stores nationwide under its banner within 12 months of the deal closing. The France-based hypermarket chain reached an agreement with Hong Kong-based Dairy Farm International Holdings (牛奶國際控股), the pan-Asian retailer that launched Wellcome Taiwan in 1987. The transaction involves 199 Wellcome supermarkets, which have average sales areas of 420m2 and 25 high-end Jasons Market Place stores, which have an average sales area of 820m2, as well as a warehouse in Taoyuan, Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福)
‘ONE-STOP SHOP’: A Miaoli official said that the factory in the Jhunan section of the Hsinchu Science Park would create more than 1,000 jobs and boost prosperity A new high-end IC packaging and testing plant planned by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Miaoli County is expected to start operations in the middle of next year, Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) said. Hsu wrote on Facebook that TSMC, the world’s largest pure wafer foundry operator, would invest NT$303.2 billion (US$10.1 billion) to build the plant, the largest-ever single investment in Taiwan. However, TSMC declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, while a company board meeting on May 12 approved a spending plan worth NT$168.2 billion as part of its investment plans. Construction of the