It seems like the latest FTC lawsuit against Intel could spell many a great thing for Nvidia, and not just make them rediscover their artistic spirit. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, FTC proposed a few dodgy points, most notable being number 17 and 18.
Number 17 states: "Requiring Intel to make available technology (including whatever is necessary to interoperate with Intel’s CPUs or chipsets) to others, via licensing or other means, upon such terms and conditions as the Commission may order, including but not limited to extensions of terms of current licenses."
You'd have to be living under a rock not to know that both Intel and AMD are slowly pushing for on-chip integrated graphics, which they hope could one day extinguish the need for discrete graphics. Both companies have graphics experience, and of course, it would be an ideal scenario – just split the market in two equal halves. Of course, bear in mind that when we say "equal", we still know that some are "more equal than others" and the ideally equal-half would in reality be far from 50%-50%.
The problem lies in Nvidia, who is the third player and the one to likely be left out of the equation, but these latest propositions make way for Nvidia to direct its own fortunes, although it would require the company to make its own x86 chips. That however has been rumored for a while, and could very well spell Nvidia's future, but Nvidia's as dodgy on the subject as ever. Still, hard to imagine they'd miss out on such an opportunity, especially when considering options for the distant future.
The point number 18 states: "Prohibiting Intel from including or enforcing terms in its x86 licensing agreements that restrict the ability of licensees to change ownership, to obtain investments or financing, to outsource production of x86 microprocessors, or to otherwise partner with third parties to expand output."
This means that any company with an x86 license could jump aboard the chip-producing train, regardless of what Chipzilla thinks of it. Of course, it's a tough task to take on, not to mention that it would take a great product and a couple of Xmas miracles to snatch away even 1% of Intel's market share.
However, the rumors about Nvidia's x86 project have been fiercely touted in the press, mostly for the fact that Nvidia employed numerous ex-Transmeta employees over the course of the past few years. In fact, "at least 70 former Transmeta employees" reportedly work for Nvidia, and some of them are said to have "rather niche skills" and they're "known as x86 test and verification engineers."
Furthermore, it has been reported that Nvidia's R&D spending has seen significant growth in the past years - $352 million in 2006 and $855.9 million in 2008, most of which is associated with engineers' salaries.
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