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'Intel will buy Nvidia' mere theory, but intriguing

A theory is being proposed as to why it's really true this time that the chipmakers will merge. Because of recent events--project cancellations and legal wrangling--it makes for fascinating reading.

Rumors are a dime a dozen in Silicon Valley--and that's probably overvaluing their cumulative worth. But, on occasion, they can be fascinating, especially when they help crystallize the dynamics underlying competition between Valley heavyweights.

Recently an "Intel will buy Nvidia" theory appeared on the blog I, Cringely, written by the former InfoWorld columnist and the author of "Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions."

The upshot of the Robert Cringely post is that the recent project cancellations and legal wrangling between the two companies (and throw in Advanced Micro Devices, too) is simply leading toward an inevitable, unstoppable merger. This, of course, supersedes older rumors about a merger. And outright statements from Intel executives that they had considered a buyout in the past.

The short version of the facts (all real events) behind the theory goes something like this. Intel cancels initial Larrabee graphics chip. That's preceded by Nvidia nixing chipsets for the newest Intel Core i series of processors, as a result of an Intel lawsuit. Intel struggles to get its (Atom) chips into smartphones, while Nvidia has some success with the Tegra chip for small devices. And then Intel's sudden inclination to settle with AMD.

All reasons, theoretically, why the two companies need each other. Other sources--some close to Intel--think it's a patently absurd notion because of the regulatory issues involved, among a dozen more reasons.

Both Intel and Nvidia declined to comment.