Report: Intel To Settle With Nvidia

The long legal dispute between Intel and Nvidia that began last year could finally be nearing a resolution.

UBS Securities analyst Uche Orji on Monday wrote that Intel could soon offer Nvidia a cash settlement for a counter-suit, which Nvidia filed in March of 2009 in response to Intel's original suit a month before citing breach of contract.

’Given the current regulatory backdrop, we expect Intel to avoid the public scrutiny of a trial that could cloud its access to Nvidia’s graphics and parallel computing patents, and may therefore settle with Nvidia,’ Orji wrote.

Orji adds that Intel may be motivated by the desire to obtain patents from Nvidia in order to challenge AMD in the market for integrated graphics and parallel processing.

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AMD recently began offering manufacturers its integrated graphics solution, known as "Fusion." Intel is expected to release its own integrated CPU-GPU solution, code-named "Oak Trail," early next year. Meanwhile, Nvidia has expanded its efforts at GPU-based high-performance computing since last year's launch of its Fermi architecture for parallel processing.

As the HPC market grows and as last year's lawsuit remains open, Intel may have chosen to get started in the former by bringing an end to the latter.

On Feb. 19, 2009, Intel filed a lawsuit accusing Nvidia of violating a cross-license agreement established between the two companies in 2004. Intel said the agreement prevented Nvidia from marketing Intel Core i7 processors based on its Nehalem and Westmere architectures that include integrated memory controllers. It also accused Nvidia of making false statements about the agreement to the public when it claimed that Nvidia was licensed to market the chipsets.

Nvidia said the agreement gives it the right to develop and sell core-logic sets compatible with Intel’s latest-generation Core microprocessors. In its countersuit, the graphics specialist said that it had informed Intel ahead of time of its belief that Nvidia was licensed to sell those chipsets, and that Intel had lost the right to enjoy the benefit of its license to Nvidia's patent portfolio by suing its rival, a month before.

Next: Sandy Bridge To Follow Core Architectures

The successor to Nehalem and Westmere, Iintel's Sandy Bridge platform, is also due out next year. Sandy Bridge is expected to integrate graphics onto the central processor and improve video compression. Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently compared the breakthrough that he expects from Sandy Brdige to that which Intel powered 17 years ago when it introduced the revolutionary Pentium processor.

"It (Sandy Bridge) is a 486-to-Pentium kind of jump," said Otellini. "What the Pentium did was enable the beginning of the multimedia (computing) era by virture of capabilities built into it. It was the right product at the right time. We are now about to move to the era of visualization -- we may be in the middle of that movement today."