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Latest patent war: Nvidia bitter with Qualcomm, Samsung?

Posted: 05 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:patent? graphics? Nvidia? Qualcomm? Samsung?

Nvidia Corp. launched a patent spat against number-one rival chipmaker Qualcomm and biggest potential customer Samsung, arguing that the two companies' chips inside Samsung smartphones and tablets infringe Nvidia's graphic patents.

Nvidia filed complaints at the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, turning up the heat on its emerging licensing strategy launched about two years ago. The patents-in-suit relate to programmable and unified shading and multi-threaded parallel processing, which include:

  • No. 6,198,488 Transform, Lighting and Rasterization System Embodied on a Single Semiconductor Platform
  • No. 6,992,667 Single Semiconductor Graphics Platform System and Method with Skinning, Swizzling and Masking Capabilities
  • No. 7,209,140 System, Method and Article of Manufacture for a Programmable Vertex Processing Model with Instruction Set
  • No. 6,690,372 System, Method and Article of Manufacturer for Shadow Mapping
  • No. 7,038,685 Programmable Graphics Processor for Multithreaded Execution of Programs
  • No. 7,015,913 Method and Apparatus for Multithreaded Processing of Data in a Programmable Graphics Processor
  • No. 6,697,063 Rendering Pipeline

Nvidia claims it has 7,000 granted or pending patents. The seven chosen represent "patents we have high confidence read on their products," said Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia's chief executive in a call with financial analysts.

Samsung products included in the suits are the Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4 mobile phones, Galaxy Tab S, Galaxy Note Pro, and Galaxy Tab 2 tablets. Most of the devices use Qualcomm mobile processors, including the Snapdragon S4, 400, 600, 800, 801, and 805. Others are powered by Samsung Exynos mobile chips, which use ARM's Mali and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GPU cores. ARM and Imagination were not named in the suits.

"The suits come at a time when Nvidia is making small strides to revive a mobile business that has been under pressure. Nvidia's Tegra line has rebounded from the bottom and is growing, but this suit seems to have little to do with Tegra, other than Samsung is not using Tegra processors in any product," said Kevin Krewell, principal with market watcher Tirias Research.


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