Is The PC's 'Soul' On The Line In Intel-Nvidia Lawsuit?

But the smaller company denies Intel's claim and has fired back with an accusation that Intel "is trying to delay the inevitable value shift" from central processors to graphics chips -- going so far as to claim that Intel has lost the battle for "the soul" of the personal computer.

Both companies have stated that no current Nvidia product is the subject of the dispute.

"There's no injunction and there's no damages, though if we get a decision we do want our lawyers' fees paid for," said Intel's Chuck Mulloy Wednesday.

"Our suit seeks to have the court declare that Nvidia is not licensed to produce chipsets compatible with any Intel product with an integrated memory controller, such as the recently introduced Nehalem products. We say they have breached the [four-year-old chipset license] agreement by saying that they do have that right."

Sponsored post

Mulloy said the court filing this week in Delaware seeks a declaratory statement from the bench clarifying that under the terms of the 2004 agreement, Nvidia cannot tailor its chipsets and proprietary SLI discrete graphics technology to Intel's recently released Core i7 processors and upcoming chips classified as Nehalem under Intel's code name scheme for new products.

Asked if independent arbitration had been considered to settle the dispute, the Intel spokesman said the two companies had "multiple meetings and multiple discussions" before Intel decided to file suit in the Delaware Chancery Court, where the filing remains under seal.

"It's kind of 'He-said, she-said,' so instead of continuing this for a year or so, we said, 'Let's have court decide it,' " Mulloy said.

Nvidia, responding Wednesday to the Intel filing in an e-mailed statement to reporters, claimed that its 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/GeForce 9400 and MCP89] and for Intel's future bus, DMI," Nvidia spokesman Ken Brown wrote in Wednesday's e-mail.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based graphics chip maker also used the spotlight to push its claim that the GPUs it makes have surpassed CPUs as the most important components in personal computers.

"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," Brown wrote.

The current lawsuit "is a clear attempt by Intel to slow the broad adoption of Nvidia platforms and to protect a decaying CPU business," he concluded.