Earlier today, my friends at Fudzilla ran a story that hit at Nvidia, with claims that Nvidia disabled PCI Prefetch due to patent infringement.
That story was true, without any doubt. But that story was actual back in late 2006, as DVhardware confirmed. When OPTi left the PCI chipset market and decided to do what Silicon Valley companies do when they leave the competition world: sue everybody they can.
Just like Integraph milked money from their stolen IP from AMD, Intel, Nvidia, Gateway, Dell, HP and others, OPTi decided to cash in by opening negotiations with AMD, Intel, Nvidia and others – VIA included. The company owns a patent to a certain way how data is cached on the PCI bus to enable faster response, of course. It is not IP that will stop PCI bus from working, since every motherboard in the world comes with PCI bus limited to 133 MB/s, and not a megabyte more. This is all about access time.
But getting back on the subject, OPTi sued AMD, Nvidia and other companies in the mix. Some negotiated way out, some decided to shut down PCI Prefetch option in BIOS with no question asked.
In case of AMD and Nvidia, it is up to the judge to decide who was right and who was wrong when a patent was granted. Intel is probably the smartest of the three giants in question, since the company alyways finds a way to avoid limelight of patent disputes. AMD and Nvidia seems that they have to learn their lesson the hard way.
Nobody is perfect, of course. But to me, this is a key evidence what’s wrong with technology patents. Every standard is drafted by a Special Interest Group (SIG) or Working Group (WG), there are companies that lead the way, invest ton of their own resources and then give everything for free.
And then, there is somebody that you don’t pay attention to, who sees the work and go and patent their stuff in secrecy. Fast forward years in advance, and voila, you have a lawsuit.
I wonder what would happen if AMD would start sueing companies for their brilliant work on GDDR memory (in case you didn’t knew, GDDR3, GDDR4, GDDR5 were all standards designed by Joe Macri’s team in ATI, now AMD), or if Nvidia would sue everybody who ever used extensions from OpenGL, or IBM could sue this and that for manufacturing procedure… all in all, quite a sad situation.
Nor Nvidia, nor Intel nor AMD didn’t do anything wrong. Sans the fact that competition squeezed another player from the market, and now we’re in “we’ll sue your arse” mode. Sad.
If brilliant engineers from AMD, Intel, Nvidia would not have to go through “legal”, we would have much more stable and advanced products. After all, there are no AMD CPU manufactured without Intel’s IP. There are no Intel CPU’s without AMD’s IP. There are no Nvidia GPUs that don’t use something from AMD’s IP, vice versa.