Update 2: Our full analysis of the agreement is now available here: Intel Settles With NVIDIA: More Money, Fewer Problems, No x86

In about 30 minutes NVIDIA will host a conference call to announce its 6-year $1.5 billion license agreement with Intel. Intel will pay annual installments totaling $1.5 billion over 6 years beginning January 18th.

We'll have full details after the conference call. The license agreement stems from the Intel/NV dispute over the right to build chipsets that interface with Intel CPUs that use DMI/QPI instead of the traditional GTL+ FSB.

After Project Denver and the Tegra 2 announcements at CES, it looks like NVIDIA is shaping up to have a good start to 2011.

Update: While we're still working on our full rundown of the agreement, there's been some speculation over at Ars Technica about what this agreement means for Intel; specifically claiming that NVIDIA GPUs will be appearing in Intel CPUs, on the basis of the fact that Intel is licensing NVIDIA technology. I'm not a lawyer (though I do play one on the Internet) however I disagree with this reading - Intel has to license NVIDIA technology to avoid running afoul of the company's large patent portfolio with their own IGPs. It's for all practical purposes impossible to build a desktop GPU without infringing on an AMD/NV patent. This agreement allows Intel to continue producing their IGPs, just as how the original 2004 chipset agreement allowed Intel to produce more modern IGPs in return for NVIDIA getting a chipset license. -Ryan Smith

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  • wolrah - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Does this mean we'll start seeing nVidia chipsets for Intel again? While Intel's chipsets are quite nice this generation I still like having proper competition keeping everyone in the game.
  • has407 - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Unlikely. The details aren't public; the public portion heavily references prior agreements (which aren't public and not included), so it's all guesswork unless someone has access to those agreements.

    The only real nugget I found in the public agreement is:

    8.1 The Parties agree to amend the Chipset License by adding the following at the end of Section 2.14 of the Chipset License:

    “Notwithstanding anything else in this Agreement, NVIDIA Licensed
    Chipsets shall not include any Intel Chipsets that are capable of electrically interfacing directly (with or without buffering or pin, pad or bump reassignment) with an Intel Processor that has an integrated (whether on-die or in-package) main memory controller, such as, without limitation, the Intel Processor families that are code named ‘Nehalem’, ‘Westmere’ and ‘Sandy Bridge.’”

    That's pretty far reaching and rules out modern Intel processors, including--although not mentioned--the most recent Atoms; does that spell the end of Ion? Given those constraints, I doubt Nvidia would want to build chipsets for Intel processors.

    p.s. Apparently Nvidia confirmed during the call that they don't plan on building Intel chipsets, but I don't have a transcript.
  • wolrah - Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - link

    "That's pretty far reaching and rules out modern Intel processors, including--although not mentioned--the most recent Atoms; does that spell the end of Ion?"

    Yeah it seems nVidia's not interested in doing any new chipsets, but Ion 2 was actually developed specifically due to this licensing problem not allowing it to directly connect to the CPU. The Ion 2 actually sits on the PCIe bus and in those systems basically only provides the GPU, so I think they're safe on that one. IIRC they're slower than many Ion 1 systems when gaming for that reason, but as far as I'm concerned the Ion only really existed for the HTPC and netbook/nettop markets where something low power that can still play HD video is all that's needed.
  • has407 - Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - link

    Ah, yes... Intel is required to maintain a PCIe interface as part of the FTC settlement (don't remember the exact stipulations), so that would make Ion 2 viable, even if not optimal.
  • Aenslead - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Once again, Intel's monopolistic culture falls - although I'm quite certain this would not have happened if NVIDIA didn't show such a strong ARM performance at CES, IMHO.
  • AnandThenMan - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Intel's monopoly is doing just fine. The damage done (and Intel's gains) pale in comparison to the payouts Intel is being forced to dish out. It's a slap on the wrist, especially the pitiful settlement AMD got. Speaking of AMD, Dirk Meyer has resigned, so maybe the board was none too impressed with his settlement agreement with Intel.
  • melgross - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    Bah! Most of the reasons why AMD did so poorly over the years was because of their crappy product lines. There was only one period when that wasn't the case, and then, they were doing better. But as we can see now that Intel is no longer doing what they were supposed to be doing to get AMD's business,
    AMD is doing as poorly as ever.
  • dgingeri - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    AMD had a great product line compared to Intel back in 1998-2002. Intel's crappy, monopolistic dealings did major damage to AMD opportunities, forcing the Athlon 64 into the back of the room, and kept them from making the money that would have allowed then to keep up with Intel over the last few years. I saw that happening back in the day. (Intel threatened to cut off companies for shipments of the 440BX chipset for the Pentium II if they made any motherboards for the Athlon, then did the same for the Athlon 64, both of which were superior products to Intel's Pentium 2, 3, and 4 lines.)

    AMD's crappy product lines lately are only that way because they couldn't pay for the staff to advance their products as quickly as Intel, and that was all Intel's doing. They knew their strategy. They knew it was illegal. They did it anyway. Unfortunately, it worked. Intel is far, far worse than Microsoft has ever been at anti-competitive practices.
  • cmdrdredd - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    It's not illegal to promote your own product and make money off it. AMD just sucks right now. Live with it.
  • MySchizoBuddy - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    it is if you are bribing people to use your product, or threating them. there is a legal way and illegal way to promote your products. Intel did the illegal way, was found guilty and had to pay up. Live with it.

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