FTC Probes Nvidia, Intel Licensing Dispute - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers

FTC Probes Nvidia, Intel Licensing Dispute

The Federal Trade Commission is already looking into Intel's competitive practices against AMD, previously found illegal by the European Union.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating a licensing dispute between Intel and Nvidia, a maker of graphics processors.

This follows up on the FTC investigating Intel business practices recently found illegal by the European Union. For more than three years, the FTC has been investigating antitrust allegations against Intel that have centered mostly around the company's business practices in competing against Advanced Micro Devices.

However, Nvidia on Friday confirmed media reports that it has spoken to the FTC about Intel.

"I can't comment any further," Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez told InformationWeek. "We're referring callers to the FTC."

Nvidia is battling Intel in a Delaware court over whether Nvidia's current license covers the new communications technology used in Intel's latest processors based on the Nehalem microarchitecture. The technology, known by the acronym DMI, is implemented directly in the processor; Intel plans to use it in future chips.

The dispute is important because Nvidia needs access to the technology to integrate its graphics processors with Intel CPUs. Nvidia in October suspended development of chipsets for Intel processors that use DMI until the dispute is settled in court.

Intel has been talking with the FTC for almost a year and a half, but a company spokesman declined Friday to discuss the talks, saying they are confidential. "We have been talking to them; we continue to talk to them," spokesman Chuck Mulloy told InformationWeek about the FTC.

Intel has acknowledged that discussions with the FTC has included explaining its recent antitrust settlement with AMD. Under the pact, Intel agreed to pay its chip-making rival $1.25 billion to put an end to all outstanding legal actions, including patent disputes.

AMD had accused Intel of using its market heft to extract favorable terms from computer makers and coerce some OEMs to shy away from using AMD processors in their systems.

Paying manufacturers not to use AMD products was at the heart of an EU ruling in May that led to a record $1.5 billion antitrust fine against Intel.

In November, New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel, alleging Intel bribed some PC manufacturers, and threatened others with supply constraints, in an effort to force them to use Intel chips over AMD products.

For Further Reading

Intel Larrabee Graphics Chip Cancelled.

Intel Floats Cloud Computing On A Chip;

Intel Demos 48-Core CPU;

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