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Intel hit with chip tech lawsuits

AmberWave, a developer of strained silicon technology, claims that the chipmaker infringes on two of its patents.

Tech Industry
AmberWave Systems, a supplier of strained silicon technology, has filed suit against Intel, alleging that the chipmaker infringes on its strained silicon patents.

The Salem, N.H.-based company has opened a lawsuit in a Texas court regarding one patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,881,632, it said in a statement Monday. In a separate action, it has filed a counterclaim in a Delaware court against a legal action brought by Intel regarding another patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,831,292, AmberWave said.

The lawsuits involve two techniques developed by AmberWave to increase the performance of semiconductor devices. The company contends that Intel used these proprietary techniques as part of the strained silicon technology incorporated into Intel Pentium microprocessors.

"Intel does not believe in the validity of AmberWave's claims and we are planning a vigorous defense," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said Tuesday.

Strained silicon is a performance-enhancing material for an array of semiconductor-based products. It works by increasing the mobility of charged carriers in semiconductor devices by "stretching" or "straining" the silicon lattice.

AmberWave said the litigation became necessary after Intel refused to negotiate a license agreement.

Intel filed a declaratory relief action in May for U.S. Patent No. 6,831,292--a pre-emptive request to the Delaware court to judge the merits of the dispute without penalty, Mulloy said. The chipmaker, based in Santa Clara, Calif., launched the action because AmberWave had claimed Intel was infringing on the patent, he added.

The lawsuit is the latest blow to hit Intel, which only last month was slapped with an antitrust claim filed by rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices. More recently, European Commission officials raided the offices of Intel as part of an antitrust investigation that also involved a number of companies that manufacture or sell computers.

ZDNet Asia staff reported from Singapore. CNET News.com's Michael Singer contributed to this report.

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