Nvidia sues Qualcomm, Samsung over patents

September 5, 2014 | 10:32

Tags: #adreno #geforce #gpu #imagination #mali #patent #samsung-galaxy #tegra #tegra-k1

Companies: #arm #imagination-technology #nvidia #qualcomm #samsung

Nvidia has launched its first-ever patent suit, accusing Samsung and Qualcomm of infringing patented technologies developed for the company's Tegra system-on-chip processors.

Nvidia's Tegra family is an interesting departure from the company's usual fare. While Nvidia has previously concentrated on graphics processors, the Tegra SoC family is designed for mobile use - with an oft-rumoured desktop version in the works - using ARM-licensed CPU intellectual property alongside the company's own GeForce GPU designs. It has never threatened the big names in the mobile processors business, but Nvidia has enjoyed reasonable success with the Tegra brand - and its most recent edition, the Tegra K1 with an impressive 192 Kepler-class GeForce processors, is beginning to show up in high-powered devices like Nvidia's own Shield tablet and a pair of Chromebook laptops.

Nvidia's not happy with its competitors, however. The company has filed suit - in IP-friendly Delaware, entirely unsurprisingly - against both Samsung and Qualcomm with the claim that both companies are infringing its patents with their rival SoC designs. 'We are asking the ITC to block shipments of Samsung Galaxy mobile phones and tablets containing Qualcomm’s Adreno, ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures,' Nvidia's David Shannon confirmed in a statement. 'We are also asking the Delaware court to award damages to us for the infringement of our patents.

'With Samsung, Nvidia’s licensing team negotiated directly with Samsung on a patent portfolio license. We had several meetings where we demonstrated how our patents apply to all of their mobile devices and to all the graphics architectures they use,' Shannon claimed. 'We made no progress. Samsung repeatedly said that this was mostly their suppliers’ problem. Without licensing Nvidia’s patented GPU technology, Samsung and Qualcomm have chosen to deploy our IP without proper compensation to us. This is inconsistent with our strategy to earn an appropriate return on our investment.'

Shannon has claimed that the two companies - but not, oddly, ARM nor Imagination - are infringing seven of the company's 7,000-odd issued and pending patents. These patents cover the GPU technology itself, the use of programmable shaders, the use of unified shader hardware, and multithreaded parallel processing within the GPU itself.

The case represents the first time Nvidia has begun court proceedings over alleged patent infringement, although it has used the weight of its portfolio in the past including a 2011 agreement with Intel that saw the company hand over $1.5 billion in a five-year licensing agreement.

Neither Samsung nor Qualcomm have issued comment on the filing. Shannon's full statement on the case can be read over on the Nvidia website.
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