Nvidia exec says Intel hindering graphics

An Nvidia executive says Intel is denying lower-end Nvidia graphics chips to consumers.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

An Nvidia executive appearing on a local San Francisco TV show on Friday said that Intel is denying consumers the chance to use Nvidia chips, likely presaging more verbal sparring and future legal wrangling between the two chip giants.

Nvidia VP Dan Vivoli. Nvidia

In a video posted on Nvidia's Web site, Daniel Vivoli, a senior vice president at the graphics chip supplier, said in response to a question from a panelist on the show that consumers shouldn't be "denied the ability" to use lower-end Nvidia graphics technology.

Nvidia and Intel have been skirmishing since February 2009 when Intel claimed in a legal filing that an older chipset license agreement with Nvidia does not extend to Intel's future processor technologies, including the Core i series of processors. And Nvidia has countersued.

In effect, the Intel legal action is preventing Nvidia from building chipsets--which accompany the main processor--that attach to Intel "Nehalem" central processing units, or CPUs. On prior-generation Intel processors, Nvidia supplied graphics-oriented chipsets to some computer makers. For example, Apple used Nvidia chipsets across its previous generation of MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air laptops. (In the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros announced on April 13, Apple uses "discrete" or standalone Nvidia GPUs that work with Intel chipsets.)

Vivoli cited lower-end applications that might benefit from Nvidia graphics processing units, or GPUs. "Photo editing...There are new technologies coming to sort through your photos to (for example) find faces of relatives very quickly. Those activities are much more efficient on a GPU and appeal to the mainstream user. If you buy a low-end PC, you shouldn't be denied the ability to do those things efficiently," he said.

He also took the opportunity to assert that Adobe's Flash application runs better on Nvidia chips than Intel silicon. "It turns out most of the video on the Web runs on Flash, which runs way more efficiently on a GPU than a CPU and way more efficiently on an Nvidia GPU than an Intel GPU," he said.

Intel declined to comment.