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Intel pays NVIDIA $1.5b in patent truce, Apple still hurt

updated 05:40 pm EST, Mon January 10, 2011

Intel and NVIDIA settle patent licensing dispute

Intel and NVIDIA today settled their longstanding chipset dispute in a deal that heavily favored NVIDIA. The truce will see Intel pay NVIDIA $1.5 billion to license all of the patents for NVIDIA's graphics cores. NVIDIA will keep use of Intel's patents, outside of proprietary x86 processors and "certain chipsets."

The payments will be spread out over the next five years and start on January 18. An earlier six-year chipset agreement between the two ends on March 31.

While not explicitly naming the chipset support, it's claimed that the deal will likely still exclude NVIDIA from making system chipsets for any Intel chip using an integrated memory controller. The move thus doesn't address the original reasons for the dispute, where NVIDIA accused Intel of deliberately misinterpreting licensing to exclude a superior competitor from its newer processors. Virtually all of Intel's modern processors, including the Atom, Xeon and the Core i3, i5 and i7, have integrated memory controllers.

The approach still leaves computer makers, particularly Apple, with limited choices. Apple, Dell, Toshiba and others designed systems based around the principle of having integrated GeForce graphics in late 2008 that were several times faster than what Intel had at the time. Intel's decision to block use meant that most computers using the graphics had to either switch back to Intel's slower video or else use dedicated graphics that chewed more power.

Companies face a better situation today as Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors have graphics that are as much as 200 percent faster and can even compete with some low-end dedicated hardware. Licensing NVIDIA technology could potentially enable software-based upgrades for current chipsets and hardware upgrades in Ivy Bridge or other future generations.

Apple nonetheless faces the prospect of having to switch to Intel for integrated video regardless of its hopes to support general-purpose computing technology like OpenCL. Newer Core processors don't currently support OpenCL and will mitigate one of the advantages of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The company is known to be willing to make the tradeoff and should use Intel video on low-end Macs early this year.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Chud73

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010


    Apple won't be hurt by this...

    I have to shake my head over this because you think Intel is going to give Apple a excuse to find another chip maker the rights to build for them? Don't think so, WHAT you will see is Intel CPU with NVIDIA GPU on the die. The only company going to hurt is AMD/ATI.... You are right the fact that any low-cost Mac will have Intel's integrated GPU and any high-cost Mac will get CPU/GPU on the die. I believe one of the main reasons that Intel canceled their own GPU unit; now looking back.

    Wait and see by March you should see both companies making a statement about how they working together to put an GPU on CPU die.

  1. Radovich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2010


    Win patents is important

    Innovation is the major work for tech giant like apple, ms, IBM...There are so many video converter in tech market for mobile devices, but iFunia is pour their energy into developing a stable, fast, small converted video size converter. It seems they are right.

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