The FTC is talking to Nvidia about Intel

The Federal Trade Commission's probe of the chipmaker's business practices has extended to Nvidia.

The Federal Trade Commission has talked to Nvidia as its probe continues into Intel's business practices.

As CNET reported earlier, Nvidia has complained loudly for years about Intel business practices. Last month, Intel agreed to pay Advanced Micro Devices $1.25 billion to settle a long-running antitrust case against Intel.

In addition to the AMD probe, the FTC has approached Nvidia about Intel's business practices. This time in the graphics chip market, according to an Nvidia spokesperson. The Nvidia-related probe was reported by BusinessWeek.

Intel commands about 50 percent of the graphics chip market. Though Nvidia is the world's leading supplier of "discrete," or standalone, graphics chips, it ranks a distant second in overall market share to Intel, which supplies "integrated" graphics built into the chipsets that accompany all of its processors. Mercury Research estimates the total market for graphics chips, including integrated graphics, at almost $10 billion in 2009.

In the third quarter, Intel had 53 percent of the graphics chip market, up from the 49 percent share in the same period last year, according to Jon Peddie Research, which tracks the graphics chip market. Nvidia took about 24 percent, down from the 28 percent in the third quarter of last year.

Nvidia claims that Intel's "bundling" tactics--the same tactics that AMD has cited for years and that were spelled out in a complaint filed by New York's attorney general last month--are causing it undue harm.

"Intel's tactics with Ion have been the most aggressive we've seen from a competitor," Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang said in a statement provided to CNET last month, referring to Nvidia's Ion chipset that is used in laptops. Intel disputes this.

"We have scrubbed and continue to scrub our pricing practices as it relates to chipsets and processors," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told CNET last month.

And in another feud with Intel, Nvidia has halted development of chipsets for Intel's new "Nehalem" processor technology (marketed as the Core i series of chips), following a complaint filed by Intel in February--which Nvidia then countered in March.

Updated on December 4 at 10:55 a.m. PST: adding comment from Nvidia.