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Report: Nvidia readies Intel-disputed chip

Nvidia is readying silicon that would work with Intel's newest processors, according to a report. In February, Intel sued Nvidia in an attempt to prevent it from bringing chips of this sort to market.

Nvidia is readying silicon that would work with Intel's newest processor design, according to a report. Intel claims Nvidia does not have the legal rights to make companion chips for its newest processors.

In February, Intel alleged in a lawsuit that the 4-year-old chipset license agreement with Nvidia does not extend to Intel's future-generation processors with "integrated" memory controllers, such as its "Nehalem" Core i series of processors.

A chipset is companion silicon to the main processor. Integrated memory controllers are built into the processor itself to increase performance between the processor and memory.

According to a report on Chinese-language Technology Web site HKEPC, Nvidia is planning to bring out a MCP99 chipset that supports Nehalem processors and Intel's Direct Media Interface, or DMI. Nvidia cited DMI back in February as a technology that Intel was trying to prevent it from using.

Despite the report's claims, it is not clear yet whether Nvidia would in fact bring out a chip before the legal matter is settled with Intel.

Nvidia had no comment on the report.

Nvidia's current 9400M Intel-compatible chipset, which is used with Core 2 architecture-based processors, has been successful. It is used in Apple's MacBook and Toshiba's Qosmio lines, for example, and in Netbooks that use the Atom processor.

During Nvidia's July 26 earnings conference call, in response to an analyst's question about building chipsets for Intel's Nehalem processors, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said: "We're not necessarily building chipsets for future Intel buses. We've not commented anything on that and so you are just going to have to wait to see what we come up with," he said. "Our company is...pretty darn clever. There is a lot of ways to skin the cat," he said.

Intel said the matter is being left to the courts. "We tried many times to resolve the conflict but we couldn't resolve it. So we asked the courts to," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. "By the time something comes to market, hopefully we'll have some resolution," Mulloy said.