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Intel

Intel: Don't use Via P4 chipset 145

RoofusPennymore writes "Intel is warning not to use the Via chipset that lets the P4 use DDR SDRAM."
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Intel: Don't use Via P4 chipset

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  • by Drakantus ( 226374 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @10:58PM (#2171411)
    I'll use an AMD chipset instead, and build a dual AthlonMP system.
    • No doubt man, with ya there.

      But to stay on topic, how in the holy hell does VIA plan on getting away with this? Give Intel the silent treatment? Fortify their headquarters from the Fed? Not to mention that DDR RAM can still rip a person a new asshole.

      *can't wait to order his ABit KG7-Raid and AYHJA Stepping TBird*
      • As the story goes, when VIA purchased S3 they also acquired all the IP they need to legally produce chipsets for any intel CPU in the next so many years. Intel doesn't have much of a case.
      • Re:No problem Intel, (Score:3, Informative)

        by glitch! ( 57276 )
        Not to mention that DDR RAM can still rip a person a new asshole.

        Both SDRAM and DDR are dirt cheap these days. From www.crucial.com:

        256 megs DDR module, $38 ($42 for ECC)
        256 megs SDRAM module CAS3, $36 (add $2 for CAS2)
        256 megs SDRAM module ECC, CAS2, $40

        Shipping is often free (it is right now).

        This is for a good brand with good warranty, too.
    • Memory has been comoditized for over a decade. The only way for memory producers to make money is to produce faster memory, by either developing or adopting new standards. Having said this, why does Intel care? Do they have an equity stake in Rambus? Do they have agreement that require exclusive use of Rambus technologies?

      • It sounds more like they don't want Via making any money off the new chipset. According to the article Intel is planning on releasing an SDRAM chipset next month and a DDR-SDRAM chipset next year.

        Dancin Santa
      • Intel has a contract with Rambus that if they sell a certain number of Rambus-requiring chipsets by a certain date, they get a huge pile of Rambus stock. Intel wants to push Rambus crap down their customers' throats whether they want it or not. One of Intel's Values that they give so much lip service to is "Customer Orientation". But in reality, Intel doesn't care at all about its customers, only that it can control them and milk them for extra profits.
        • "Intel has a contract with Rambus that if they sell a certain number of Rambus-requiring chipsets by a certain date, they get a huge pile of Rambus stock."

          And the only way that Rambus stock certificates will be worth more than their scrap paper value is if Intel can create a situation where people have to buy Rambus memory from no one but Rambus at whatever price Rambus wants to charge.

          Of course if enough people decide that they can get the same performance with AMD and regular DIMMs for less money or more preformance for the same money then Intel and Rambus could both be out of luck. However with most people getting their CPU buying advice from Blue Man Group or the Bunny People, it'll take a lot of work (i.e., expensive advertising) by AMD and/or a "known name" box maker like Compaq, Dell, Gateway, or IBM to educate the masses enough to really put the screws to Intel and Rambus.

      • The test on anandtech [anandtech.com] shows Intel's 845 chipset is intentionally crippled. Intel probably don't want people to say/think "Gee, your SDRAM chipset has latency as bad as DRDRAM and yet VIA's chipset has better latency; with performance within 5%, and a lot less $ investment using DDR SDRAM, I will buy the VIA product instead of yours."
  • Don't use Intel. Always good advice.
  • 'Not licensed to build products that are compatible with the Pentium 4'?

    <br><br>

    Well, maybe, but I don't see how they could be legally prevented from doing so.

    <br><br>

    kiscica
    • Clarification (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kiscica ( 89316 )
      By which I mean, 'could be prevented from doing so solely by taking legal measures'. Obviously, they could be obstructed if Intel refused to release some necessary technical information to them, and that would be perfectly legal for Intel to do, but if Via has already come into possession of all the necessary information by legal means (i.e. publicly available specs, or reverse engineering) then they can build all they like. Which means that computer companies should feel free to use their chipsets, as long as they haven't signed any agreement with Intel not to use unlicensed products. I can't see that Intel would have any grounds to sue Via unless an actual agreement were violated.

      By the way, HTML preview seems to be broken now.

      kiscica
      • Re:Clarification (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Your Anus ( 308149 )
        If Intel patented some key part of the technology, like the CPU socket (think Slot 1 & 2), or the north bridge, then Intel would make it impossible, or extremely difficult, for VIA to produce a compatible chipset without Intel's permission.

        That being said, I think this is a really stupid move on Intel's part, The only reason they would be doing it is because of some agreement they still have with Rambus.

        • That and the fact that VIA has been pissing on Intel for years now, constantly annoying them, and now they're embarassing Intel again (on many counts, Rambus was an admitted large embarassment, and Intel has had enough embarassing things happen in the last year or so) by beating them to the market with a better solution for their flagship processor. Pretty easy to understand why Intel would be Up In Arms(tm) about this.

          BTW - HTML Preview works fine, it's just that the dropdown defaults to "pain text" now, so you have to change it to HTML formatted.
  • by MasterOfDisaster ( 248401 ) <kristopfNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:02PM (#2171424) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why anyone would bother with a P4, ESPECALY with slower ram. I'll take an Athlon and DDR (or pc133) system any day of the week. P4's are slow, power hungry, hot, etc. whereas athlongs are...oh wait, all the same things. never mind
    • I have an AMD system and am relatively happy with it. But I wish AMD would include: a heat spreader for better dissipation of heat/prevent cracking the core when installing heatsinks; and thermal protection. One of these days, I'm going to come home and find my CPU has fried because my CPU fan has failed. My A7V's latest 1008 BIOS has fan/CPU temperature protection, but both features don't work right. Fan monitor thinks my 80mm fan is spinning too slow and makes the annoying alert sound; temp monitor is just broken and shuts down the box right after it is turned on. Consuming less wattage would be a nice feature, too. Can't wait for 0.13u.
  • Intel Corp. (INTC - news), in its ongoing dispute with Via Technologies Inc., of Taiwan, is warning computer makers to steer clear of a new chip set from Via that could enable the manufacturers to build cheaper Pentium 4-based PCs by enabling them to use a less costly high-speed memory technology.


    ...you mean someone will finally pay what this bs chip is worth? What a shame that'll be!


    Via and AMD certainly aren't having the same problems.

    • I've already seen an ad for a $1000 P4 machine. There should be laws against things like that. They have used extra-cheap hardware to get it down to $1000 but they can still advertize it as using Intel's shiny new processor. I'm sure they'll make tons of money off of it.
  • ...looking forward to replacing my ultra clocked duron which has given me nothing but joy for next to nothing money-wise, with one of the crap Intel's trying to push, claiming it's a 'processor'.

    I forget where I read it, but no doubt it spawned from a link here, but the last 3 chips Intel has made have been a) massively overpriced for the power, and b) the same chip. :P
    • You think the P4 is expensive? Unlike the Itaniums with range from over 1000$ to over 4000$ each?
      • Yup..and for what purpose? You can achieve pretty well the same power with a nice, inexpensive socket A (prices as low as $110 Canuck dollaws) and a Duron or preferably T-bird.

        From a builder's standpoint, you'd ask 'Why do they even bother making chips.' But the problem is the public knows about Intel. That's the company that has the neat sticker on my computer, and has those strange blue men in their commercials. The public likes Intel, and probably haven't even heard of the viable competitors.
        • People are wowed by gigahertz and press releases. More so by ghz. Intel's leading there, though we all know it means crap. However, with the Itanium, it's a new model, 64-bit processor. That breaks compatibility with everything else, so everything need to bre recompiled. This isn't so bad, for open source applications. Most Open Source OS's support IA-64, and the compilers can build for it. However, good luck seeing windows on any of these until XP comes out. If it does. Then you'll have to convince closed source people to recompile. Much harder. Of course, it's meant to be a server chip, so maybe all people writing server software for windows will recompile. Yea. Sure.

          I just wanted to set you straight, that's the purpose, is the 64bit computing, and insane registers and EPIC and stuff like that. I think Sledgehammer will be a better solution though.
          • People are wowed by gigahertz and press releases. More so by ghz. Intel's leading there, though we all know it means crap.

            Amen, brother...

            However, with the Itanium, it's a new model, 64-bit processor. That breaks compatibility with everything else, so everything need to bre recompiled.

            No, Itanium isn't backward-compatible, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be. Any of Sun's 64-bit UltraSPARCs can run any program compiled for a 32-bit SPARC machine just fine. And if you're looking for a 64-bit machine--or any server, for that matter--why not just get a Sun? These days, they cost about the same as comparably-performing Intels; the UltraSPARC is a better-designed, more scalable, and more reliable processor (no bugs at all... contrast Intel's microcode workarounds); and Solaris even runs GNOME <g>.

            Oh, and by the way... AFAIK, the Itanium will run well with at the most 32 processors (at least that's what XP Datacenter or whatever it's called is supposed to support). An E10k setup can run one image on 1024 processors...

    • The PPro, P2, Celeron, P3, and varities of each have been essentially the same chip. The P4 is a new model.
  • by krogoth ( 134320 ) <slashdot@NoSPaM.garandnet.net> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:04PM (#2171433) Homepage
    I take it their main product aimed at desktop systems is CPUs, not chipsets. Right now they are trying to cut their CPU off from another part of the market so they can sell more chipsets later - reducing the sales of their main product for the benefit of a secondary product.
    • Actually rambus practically gave away a billion dollars worth of stocks to Intel to close the deal on the upcoming p4. This is why they only want rambus to succeed. If rambus price gouges, Intel would actually see a profit regardless if less p4's sold. IT was a memory monopoly guaranteed until AMD came out of nowhere and now there is competition.
    • It took the Pentium III about a year to become attractive anyway. Especialy with the economic downturn, the Pentium IV should not by itself become attractive before February 2002, the scheduled release for Intel's own DDR chipset (remember, it's more likely in this industry that deadlines are moved forward, not backward. So maybe Via beat Intel out by a mere month.)

      Via won't hand over half their profits over to Intel because they claim that in their acquisition of S3, they also inherited the license to the bus allowing them to interface with the P4. Seeing as how Intel is a public company, their sidestepping suing Via suggests they reluctantly agree with them.
  • Of course they are.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by XaXXon ( 202882 ) <xaxxon@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:04PM (#2171434) Homepage
    Of course Intel is going to tell computer manufacturers not to use the other guy's chipset. And the reason? Not because it isn't compatible, or isn't as fast as the Intel alternative, but because Intel will sue them if they do. Because Intel can't/won't put out a chipset that people want to use (only offering RDRAM or old and slow PC133), they sure as hell don't want someone else doing it. With how poorly the P4 is doing, however, you'd think Intel would be happy to have something out there to move more chips..
    • Unfortunatly for Intel, VIA acquired all the IP it needs to produce a P4 chipset from it's purchase of S3. VIA isn't afraid of a lawsuit, and I doubt Intel will actually go through with a suit when VIA call's their bluff.
      • Supposedly there is some ambiguity in exactly what VIA aquired with S3. I expect that VIA scrunitized the agreement extremely carefully, and has to be pretty confident that Intel would lose in court, but if there is any ambiguity, Intel could conceivable get a restraining order and slow them down a while.

        At least one claim was that the S3 licensing agreement only applies do graphics chips and/or chipsets with integrated graphics.

        Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this works out. My guess is that Intel is trying to stall this until their SDRAM chipset comes out, and doesn't expect/plan to kill it off entirely. Perhaps there will be some midnight licensing deal where Intel accepts much lower royalties than they had originally asked for (something like $20+/chipset) -- that would open up the market and speed P4 acceptence, while still saving face for Intel, and not set any dangerous (to Intel) precedents about enforcing patents.
    • by VAXman ( 96870 )
      There's a fatal flaw in your assessment; Intel has licensed the P4 bus to both ALi and SiS and both are releasing DDR chipsets within the next month. The problem is not that Intel doesn't want others producing chipsets, it's that it doesn't want people producing chipsets without a bus license. There's really nothing more to this than what the headline says.
  • Intel Just Jealous (Score:5, Informative)

    by robbyjo ( 315601 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:05PM (#2171436) Homepage

    Because they can't outperform Via [theinquirer.net]. Thus... just like their partner, Rambus, counter attack with lawsuit. What a classic. Meanwhile, Via has a very strong case [theinquirer.net], too.

    Some bits here [anandtech.com] and here [anandtech.com] at Anandtech [anandtech.com], and there is another one [earthweb.com] at Hardware Central [earthweb.com]. Then, here [tomshardware.com] and here [tomshardware.com] at Tom's Hardware [tomshardware.com].

    All says: Via Rocks, Intel sucks. I'll leave it to you to judge.

    • Because they can't outperform Via

      Uh, have you actually looked at the Anandtech article about the Via P4/DDR chipset? Intel's i850 (RDRAM) chipset outpferoms Via's DDR chipset on every benchmark.
      • Sure, their RDRAM chipset, using ram that was three times the price, was 5% (on average) ahead on all benchmarks except Q3, where it was 12% or so ahead...

        Their SDRAM chipset was 20% or so behind VIA's chipset in almost all of the benchmarks, except where it fell farther behind.

        So no, Intel's SDRAM chipset can't stay anywhere near VIA's SDRAM chipset. In fact, Intel's chipset fell farther behind than would be expected from ram bandwidth itself, leading to speculation that they intentionally crippled the chipset, so as to not take away sales from the more expensive product. (They've frequently done this, 486SX, Celeron 2, etc)

        Face it, Intel currently has the slowest chipsets, and the slowest CPUs. The fastest x86 out there is an Athlon 1400 with DDR.

        They tried this same vaguely threatened lawsuit trick against mobo makers when they were first coming out with Athlon boards. Intel and MS, can't compete with products, have to do it in court.
    • by cygnusx ( 193092 )
      It's [goatse.cx] gonna [goatse.cx] become [goatse.cx] tougher [goatse.cx] to [goatse.cx] dupe [goatse.cx] some [goatse.cx] poor [goatse.cx] sod [goatse.cx] into [goatse.cx] clicking [goatse.cx] a [goatse.cx] goatse [goatse.cx] link [goatse.cx] now [goatse.cx] that [goatse.cx] Banjo's [goatse.cx] got [goatse.cx] this [goatse.cx] way-cool [goatse.cx] domain-printing [goatse.cx] feature [goatse.cx]. :-) (But only if you don't disable it!)
    • Not to mention the fact that intel is run by dancing blue aliens.
  • Because it is counterproductive to their business plan.

    ..............sigh
  • Go ahead. (Score:3, Troll)

    by eric2hill ( 33085 ) <ericNO@SPAMijack.net> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:05PM (#2171439) Homepage
    <speculation>
    Buy the VIA chipset. You should jump on it quick though. In a month or two, VIA will be so buried in legal paperwork that they won't be able to put a resistor in a box without a court injunction. It's really too bad that Intel can't let this slide, but I'm guessing that Intel and Rambus(t) have been in bed together so long that someone forgot where the key to the handcuffs is. Some Intel CPO woke up one day to find himself gagged and bent over a box, and his lawyers told him they couldn't do anything, but that they'd take some pictures to remind him in the future that KY and a condem aren't all that's needed in the corporate world.
    </speculation>
  • "Intel claims that Via does not have the necessary licensing for its Apollo P4X266 chip set."

    Oh no, somebody call the WAAAAAHHHHHmbulance.
  • A couple thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brad Wilson ( 462844 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:06PM (#2171445) Homepage
    First, to those who wonder exactly how it is that Intel can limit things that interface with the P4... they use patents to prevent it. By patenting the interface into the P4, nobody can use it without licensing the patent.

    Second, I wouldn't believe either side yet. Lawyers have a tendency to slightly over-react. If motherboards come out and you get one, don't worry about it. You won't be liable for using the supposed "renegade" technology. Of course, IANAL, so everything I said was a lie. :) :)

    3 boxes in my home office. All Athlons. I don't dislike Intel; I just dislike Intel's pricing.
  • by gloth ( 180149 )
    Oh my god, VIA is releasing a chipset that might help to bring our overpriced Intel systems a little bit closer to AMD! We can't let that pass, let's slap those suckers silly! If you want Intel, we'll make you pay...
  • I don't get it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <jeremy AT pavleck DOT com> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:08PM (#2171449) Homepage Journal
    Intel plans on releasing a chipset that supports DDR DRAM within a month or so ANYWAY, so whats the point of this fight? Does Intel make MORE money licensing the chipsets that use their processors then the processors themselves?
    To me, at least, I think it's just that Intel got a little egg on their face and is now trying to use their muscle to halt it.
    • Correction... according to the article this story links to, Intel's DDR chipset is not due till early next year. The several months advantage VIA has could seriously hurt sales of Intel motherboards and chipsets, since the VIA chipset is cheaper and allows the manufacturing of cheaper systems due to the price difference between DDR and Rambus memory.

      The chipset Intel is planning on releasing this year is one that uses standard SDRAM, which, IMO is total BS as the whole P4 architecture relies on high memory bandwidth, which standard SDRAM cannot provide. With SDRAM, Pentium 4's are not likely to perform any better than lower-clocked P3's.
      • Most P4 speeds already don't perform any better than lower-clocked P3's. remember when they came out and the 1GHz P3 spanked a 1.4GHz P4 and often a 1.5GHz one too? And then they benchmarked the Athlon against it and then re-benched.. and benched again.. and again.. and always the same results.. that the P4 just plain sucks. At 1.4GHz, the Athlon should easily take on the 1.7GHz P4. or 1.8.. or whatever the hell marketing says it's at today. We know those numbers mean crap anyway.

        With SDR SDRAM, the P4 is essentially useless. I have no idea why Intel is bothering to make it use this. Especially before the DDR ones. MAYBE at the same time, for people who want P4 for no reason other than marketing and bragging rights (who needs to know what kind of ram you have), but certainly don't release it beforehand.. ugh.

    • Intel plans on releasing a chipset that supports DDR DRAM within a month or so ANYWAY, so whats the point of this fight? Does Intel make MORE money licensing the chipsets that use their processors then the processors themselves?
      To me, at least, I think it's just that Intel got a little egg on their face and is now trying to use their muscle to halt it.


      PLEASE read the article! The issue has nothing to do with the speed of DDR SDRAM, it has to do with the fact that VIA supposedly doesn't have the proper licensing from Intel, and there could be legal battles. This is a purely legal/business issue, not a technical one.
      • I did read the article. I saw this as a boom for Intel, seeing as there was already a chipset out there now that supports DDR SDRAM (Did misinterpet what Intel was releasing, didnt realize they were just support SDRAM). I say just let VIA sell the chipset. More P4 motherboards that can use DDR SDRAM, the more Pentium 4's out the door. Both companies win, and we win as consumers for having a P4 that will run the sub-1000 barrier. I guess I'm more the "Can't we all get along" kind of guy. *shrug*
    • The real issue is this: intel can't controll VIA, and the P4X266 chipset shows decent performance. This screws up intel's original plan: release i845 with SDR ram support, with poor performance. Later add DDR support, but artificially cripple the chipset so it still performs poorly. Then, say "we told you so, RAMBUS RAM is the only way to get good performance with the processors of the future, look we tried DDR and it still sucks, so you just have to pay the extra and use RDRAM".
  • that less than a week after the IBM/PC 20th anniversary, celebrating the "open-sourcing" of PC specifications and such, that Intel is pulling such bullshit.

    I want open source software and hardware. I don't expect them to release the silicon schematics, but I at the very least expect them to give enough information to let me hack away at it (remember IBM's purple book?), free of the sort of "licensing" that they seem to be pushing onto people.

    And the "warning to potential buyers of potential legal action" reeks of (take your pick) M$/RIAA/MPAA.

    Time to boycott Intel.

    • Time to boycott Intel.

      Agreed. And in this case, it's actually possible to boycott them without sawing off one's own nose to spite one's face :)

      AMD [amd.com] have consistently made cheaper products than Intel, and for the past few years, they've made better products than Intel as well. When you can buy a CPU that performs better than Intel's offerings and costs less, it's hard not to boycott Intel.

      I've owned AMD-based PCs and I've seen plenty of benchmarks. I know benchmarks get skewed in whichever direction the reviewer wants them to go, but my own experience tells me the K7 (Athlon, if you insist on brand names :) is faster clock-for-clock than Intel's best, and it's always cheaper.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Banjo has seemed to stripped the end of this article off
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:19PM (#2171474) Journal

    Just to clarify the headline: Intel is not "warning" people that using the VIA chipset is dangerous -- that it might harm their Pentium 4 processors -- but rather that they wish it were illegal. A quote from the article:

    "They are not licensed to sell products that are compatible with the Pentium 4," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.

    Mr. Malloy and his superiors apparently believe that they have "intellectual property" not only in their patents, but also in devices they may have never seen which interoperate with their patents. I believe that this idea was settled in Nintendo v. Galoob [uconn.edu], the "Game Genie" case, in which Galoob's right to create a device that interoperated with the NES game console (and which modified the behavior of the latter, no less!) was upheld.

    • Except that I don't think Galoob obtained their information about how to interoperate with the NES under a contractual agreement with Nintendo. Via made certain agreements with Intel, in which it received information from Intel, and agreed to certain restrictions about how it could use that information. The question is whether Via's licensing agreement allows them to sell these products. I personally hope they can, but I can see some reasons why they might get caught in court for a while.
  • If I can only buy a new Intel P4 computer with the RDRAM, then I guess the simplest solution is to buy myself a Dual Athlon 1.4 GHz + DDR Ram computer. It is probably cheaper too.
  • <sarcasm>
    A VIA chipset that sucks! Now that surprises me!
    </sarcasm>
  • by BlowCat ( 216402 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:23PM (#2171482)
    I could not find any technical arguments in the Intel's statement. It's a legal problem between VIA and Intel. It should be safe to ignore this warning. I doubt that Intel can sue users of VIA motherboards.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:29PM (#2171492) Homepage Journal
    And we just finished all this dirty laundry of Microsoft today, too. Intel is worried that you may not have the same quality chipset, since VIA wants to do things their own way, and hasn't waited for Intel's blessing. What it really comes down to is that Via is the big dog, in Taiwan, and has tired of kowtowing to the Santa Clara based company. Intel has licensing arrangements with smaller competitors of Via, in Taiwan, and is probably just trying to extort enough money to level the playing field, as the Via chipset is a few dollars cheaper than the Intel sanctioned sets.


    I'd give Via the benefit of the doubt, considering that Intel is still flapping their gums about how good RDRAM is, even after Craig Barrett put Rambus down. [eetimes.com]


    Meanwhile, Rambus failure to overturn on appeal the SDRAM fraud charge is blowing up in their face with a slough of shareholder class action suits. [yahoo.com]

  • The way I see it is that they'll sell more P4s if people can use the cheeper DDR RAM. This is the main reason I don't have one. I reacently upgraded the guts of my old computer from a 600Mhz Athalon w/SDRAM to a 1.2 Ghz Athalon + DDR. What I was really wanting was the DDR RAM and it was worth it. I would have gone with a P4, but I'm not going to spend all that extra $ on memory that won't be around for long. Intel lost my biz when they hooked up with RD RAM.

    On another note:
    "They are not licensed to sell products that are compatible with the Pentium 4," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.
    Sense when can they do this? If I want to make and sell intake manifolds I suer hope there is'nt some fucked up law that forces me to get ford's premission first.

  • by gnovos ( 447128 ) <(gnovos) (at) (chipped.net)> on Friday August 17, 2001 @11:42PM (#2171518) Homepage Journal
    Wow, how desperate do you have to be to actually warn against a competitor by name and tell your customers not to chose them. What ever happened to advertising your products strengths as opposed to your opponents weaknesses?

    Now, I am not going to say anything about Intel's products, but it is REALLY grasping a straws when the only ammunition you have is whining to your clients that your cheaper, quicker, and more savvy competition may not have it's licensing in order...

    • Wow, how desperate do you have to be to actually warn against a competitor by name and tell your customers not to chose them. What ever happened to advertising your products strengths as opposed to your opponents weaknesses?


      Well, at least this is confined to Intel. Because obviously Microsoft would never use these tactics to put down Linux, oh no... ;-)

  • *BSA storms into business with a warrant*

    "Do you have licenses for these Pentium 4 chipsets?"

    "Licenses for my hardware??"

    "I can offer you a Pentium 4 site license for 20% off right now, or I take you and all your employees to pound-me-in-the-ass prison."
  • Oh come on, VIA is competition for them what did you think they would say? "Go buy it, we'll be happy if you do so instead of buying ours"? It would be ludicrous, just as, say, Microsoft advising you to buy RedHat.
  • "If you make a product that uses VIA's chipset, and we sue them for patent infringement, it is possible your motherboard could be blocked from import into the US as a result of the suit. You might want to re-think your decision."

    Really, this is just Intel being a nice corporate citizen and warning other companies of a possible downside they could have neglected to consider.

    Don't you like it when companies are so helpful?

  • Yes, I know exactly what everyone is thinking. Intel is runing their FUD engine at full steam to make sure everyone uses their expensive chipset/RDRAM setup.

    But, as someone whose last three out of four computers (and probably next one) have been AMD Athl/Dur-on computers, let me just give a slightly different twist on this. I have had HUGE problems with VIA chipsets, on both AMD and Intel platforms. Quite frankly, they are just not quality products. They have ridiculously bad USB support, sub-par stability, and tons of other little things that drive me NUTS.

    I would also like to point out that unlike many other chipset makers, VIA specifically optimizes their chipsets' drivers for Microsoft OS use. Generally speaking, this means that you always have to use the absolute latest Linux kernel in order for even somewhat good chipset support.

    Given VIA's track record, Intel's advice seems completely logical: VIA cares more about getting a chipset out than making sure it's a quality product.

    In other words, if you're in the market for a P4/DDR combo, I implore you to wait for Intel, SiS, or ALi to release their chipsets, as VIA's track record (particularly in new techologies) is...less than great.
  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:25AM (#2171609)

    Let's see now...



    The Pentium FPU error recall debacle.



    The PII/PIII serial number "Big Brother Inside" disaster.



    And now this. And never mind the fact that, when you buy Intel, you get the honor of paying more for less performance. What a joke. Has it never occurred to these corporate idiots that they're losing market share?



    And in case anyone from Intel is reading this... Hey guys, there's a reason your numbers are declining: many people don't find your products competitive anymore. You might have been able to get away with such tactics five years ago, but not anymore. I'm running a K6-II right now, and if there was ever a miniscule chance that I'd have purchased an Intel chip in the future or even recommended one to someone else, it's gone now.

  • by ToLu the Happy Furby ( 63586 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:25AM (#2171610)
    It's astonishing how an article could spend that long talking about Intel suing VIA over a chipset which introduces a new DRAM type to an Intel CPU and not mention Intel's PC133 fiasco of two years ago.

    For those who don't know, the only reason PC133 exists (as a PC standard DRAM type) is because of VIA. Flashback to early 1999: Intel had the market for chipsets (for Intel processors) almost completely to itself, riding on the enormously successful 440BX chipset, which used PC100. However, P3 speeds were ramping up while memory speeds had been stuck at PC100 for a couple years. The obvious thing to do was to update the BX to support a 133MHz FSB. After all, it was a dead-simple engineering trick (every BX mobo at the time could easily overclock to 133; many were stable up to 150), and the memory makers were already making SDRAM which could safely run at 133 but clocking at 100 because that was the highest official speed.

    But instead--and unbeknownst to most of the techie world at that point--Intel had a contract with Rambus which offered them many goodies like the ability to make RDRAM controllers royalty-free (others paid up to 5%) and lots and lots of stock options. However, the contract was contingent on, among other things, Intel agreeing to do everything reasonably in their power to prevent "next-generation DRAM" types other than RDRAM from being paired with Intel processors for the consumer desktop. "Next-generation" was defined as > 1GB/s bandwidth.

    PC133 has a bandwidth of 1.066 GB/s.

    Moreover, Intel *thought* it was putting the finishing touches on the ill-fated RDRAM-only (at that point) i820 (Camino) chipset, with which they were going to introduce new and badly needed 133MHz FSB P3s. Instead, engineering delays involving the difficulties of getting RDRAM working (eventually they had to settle for only 2 RIMM slots instead of the original 3, a per-channel limitation which remains to this day), and the difficulties of getting a memory translator hub which allowed PC100 to be used on the i820 (a last minute addition when they realized people weren't exactly going to pay $500 for 128MB of RAM) working, pushed the release date back 6 months or so, until November.

    Just to reiterate: Intel put off releasing 133MHz FSB P3s, and then when they did release them said that consumers could only use them with a buggy chipset, limited to 2 RAM slots, which offered one's choice of an extra-slow translated implementation of PC100 or of RDRAM which cost 10 times as much per bit as SDRAM. Meanwhile, tests with BX chipsets overclocked to 133 MHz FSB showed that this solution was significantly *faster* than the i820 + RDRAM chipset!

    Into this world stepped VIA offering the Apollo133 chipset, the first P3 chipset explicitly designed to use PC133. Nevermind that it was probably *less* stable than an Intel BX overclocked to 133 MHZ FSB. Nevermind that it underperformed the BX@133 as well. And nevermind that then, as now, Intel sued VIA with all their might, among other things requesting injunctions forbidding all VIA products from leaving Taiwan. (The pretext then was that VIA was abusing Intel IP by using the P3 bus with a DRAM type Intel had not sanctioned.)

    VIA quickly gained > 50% of the P3 chipset market.

    Indeed, the only reason you see ALi, SiS, and soon-to-be nvidia and others getting into the 3rd-party chipset market is because VIA paved the way a couple years ago.

    Intel tried every FUD tactic in the book, from suing in multiple jurisdictions to claiming that PC133 SDRAM was not stable (the DRAM itself! And this from the company which had spent the past year patching bugs with RDRAM!). Intel got their ass handed to them in court, and by in the summer of 2000 introduced the i815, essentially the BX@133 product they should have introduced in late 1998.

    Intel doesn't like getting humiliated, though, and they've had a seemingly personal vandetta against VIA ever since. In retaliation, they denied VIA the chance to license the P4 bus, as ALi and SiS and (interesting) ATi have done. (This is the basis for the current *threatened* suits. However, it's interesting to note that the P4X266 is currently shipping and no suits have yet been filed, meaning this is probably just a bluff on Intel's part.)

    Intel reps were even seen at the recent Comdex show threatening mobo makers who had VIA promotional balloons flying at their booths. All the balloons were taken by the Intel people.

    However, Intel's case this time is as flimsy as last. Disregarding potential antitrust concerns, the fact remains that NatSemi, whom VIA recently purchased *did* have a license for the P4 bus, and thus so does VIA.

    So does this mean VIA will have similar success as last time? Well, I think they'll easily prevail in court if it comes to that, although it appears that Intel may be playing this one all FUD and no bite: warning mobo manufacturers not to use the P4X266 rather than actually filing any lawsuits. While of course not stated in the article, the well-documented fact [realworldtech.com] is that Intel is telling the mobo makers that if they use the VIA chipset they will have their allocation of Intel's SDRAM (and soon-to-be DDR) P4 chipset, the i845, curtailed or dropped altogether. The result will likely be that only the third-tier mobo makers, who probably wouldn't have gotten a Brookdale allotment anyways, will be using the P4X266.

    But another reason VIA won't snap up the P4 chipset market is much more hopeful. SiS' DDR Athlon chipset, the 735, has earned rave reviews, significantly beating every other chipset around. Their upcoming 635 chipset for the P4 will offer all that and more, including support for 333MHz DDR (PC 2700) which is coming down the pipeline now.

    And they *do* have a P4 license.
    • Wow. I just bought a VIA motherboard for my K6 CPU because a very good friend told me it was reliable. Now I feel even better. :)
    • Doesn't all of this product tying, threatening distributors, manipulating markets, etc. sound kind of familiar?
    • Via Technologies didn't purchase National Semiconductor; they purchased the majority of Cyrix PC processor intellectual properties from National Semiconductor. National retained some properties that they've used to show off at recent shows with their information appliance gizmos. Via did NOT (and COULD not) obtain the licensing agreements with Intel through this deal.

      (Disclaimer: I work for National Semi, and all of this information is available in public press releases.)
    • Actually, it was S3 that VIA bought. S3 and Intel had a 10-year cross-licensing agreement, and according to VIA, that's what's gives them the Pentium 4 bus license.

      VIA's dealings with NatSemi were the above-mentioned buyout of Cyrix IP, plus VIA contracted NatSemi to do manufacturing of their Pentium 3 chipsets after Intel revoked VIA's P6 bus license.
  • There is a short explanation from a VIA executive about the legal threats in Tom's Hardware Guide. [tomshardware.com] Via is basicly saying that they will cover any legal fees board manufacters might be liable to pay to Intel for manufacturing Via's new chipset. It seems that Via is expecting a huge amount of profit from this new chipset.

    I also have a question for those in the US. Can you buy single P4 chipsets without Rdram? When P4 came out here they only sold them with Rdram bundles, but now they actually sell P4s and their RDrams seperately. What they do is take out the Rdram that came in a P4 box and sell them seperately. I wonder if that's legal...

    BTW, I am actually beginning to hate Intel. I never liked them since I have known about AMD and some of Intel's monopolisctic tactics but it gets very annonying to hear them sue or slander some other company or technology every week.

    I know it's sort of meaningless to ask legal questions on /. but I'll ask anyway: Could I for example build a fan specificly designed for P4s without Intel's consent? Would I get sued? Just because Intel has filed patents?! I mean Via must have produced its own cpu interface for P4. Other than that, it's just the number and the layout of the CPU pins they are using. Intel's gonna sue Via because of this?!!? Can somebody explain?

    • My understanding is that Intel has patented the host bus (FSB) for the P4, and is licensing it selectively to chipset vendors it approves of (yes, there are some, e.g., Serverworks). I sort of thought such selective practices were illegal, but I certainly don't know.

      Micron is having a similar problem to Via, where Intel is trying to stop a chipset of theirs which is currently under development.

      MM
      --
    • I also have a question for those in the US. Can you buy single P4 chipsets without Rdram?

      Yes, and it would be an ilegal tied sale if Intel tried to require it.


      Intel seem to have screwed up really badly here. RDRAM is going to remain expensive, not least because RAMBUS is suing all the fabs with their smurfed SDRAM 'patent'.


      A billion dollars of RAMBUS stock may sound a lot but that is nothing to losing 2% of market share to AMD. It appears to me that Intel have stalled the P4 range entirely with this deal.


      Plus the RAMBUS stock that Intel will get is probably worth much less than a billion dollars right now, after the SDRAM fraud finding RAMBUS has been in free fall - remember that the judge only reversed some of the fraud findings and did not reverse the non infringement ruling.


      The genius that made this mess probably gets paid several million a year with millions of options on top. After this fiasco he probably wishes they were puts not calls.

  • Toms hardware proved it. This chipset works well, it is cheap, it is out first, and Intel hates it because there isn't a damn thing they can do about it.
    Rambus has already sued just about every memory manufacturer for some reason or another, if Intel sues Mobo Manf. and VIA, that would look real good for the guys who started the whole rambus intel deal. Ok, we put out an inferior product that was away from the main streem and natural flow of the industry, no body bought it because it cost 3 times what everything else on the market did. It offered no real performance gain and it ended up getting us in littigation with half of the hardware companies in the country.
    I would say that was pretty successful, wouldn't you?
  • by BierGuzzl ( 92635 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @02:29AM (#2171717)
    AMD is warning users not to use the Intel P4
  • So the problem is? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Powercntrl ( 458442 )
    If the interface used by the P4 is in fact patented, Intel is just protecting their IP as allowed under current patent law. Sure, you can have a problem with the patent laws, but then you should be attacking the patent laws, not how companies (such as Intel or Unisys) choose to use them to their advantage. Yes, Intel can take their ball and go home if they don't like how you play... If you have a problem with that, use someone else's ball or bring your own. Unisys's patenting of GIF spawned the creation of PNG, MP3 patents spawned OGG... Intel's patents got you down? Buy AMD.

    • And this use of the law advances the public good...how?

      My meter for "be careful, somebody's trying to pull a fast one" now trips when the discussion's terminology gets "Intellectual Property" added to it. There is no such thing in the law.

      There are legal mechanisms for patents, trade secrets, copyrights, trade marks, service marks (and a few others), but none of these legal mechanisms are as strong or complete as those laws related to real property. And that's as intended; real property and intellectual creations have very different characteristics.

      People who are pushing the term "intellectual property" into arguments often are indicating their desire to make the legal controls[1] over information creations to be as strong or stronger than those over tangible property. So that not only means eliminating fair use and expiry, but also the creation of new categories of government control mechanisms for those things that inconveniently don't fit into the existing legal structures.

      [1](Note "controls"; "protections" is another attempt to shift the terms of the debate.)

    • Intel is not refusing to license the bus altogether. They are selectively licensing it to chipset vendors they approve of. IANAL, but could this be illegal anti-competitive behavior? Also, is it a coincidence that they waited until VIA and others (e.g., Micron) were nearly finished before they pulled this rabbit out of their hat? I mean, Intel surely knew about this for quite some time, and even provided these companies with secret Intel documents to facilitate development. All of a sudden now they say they won't license the technology? Does not compute.

      MM
      --
  • by lie as cliche ( 266319 ) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @02:46AM (#2171733) Homepage
    Intel Corp. (INTC - news), in its ongoing dispute with Via Technologies Inc., of Taiwan, is warning computer makers to steer clear of a new chip set from Via that could enable the manufacturers to build cheaper Pentium 4-based PCs by enabling them to use a less costly high-speed memory technology.

    Intel, as part of dirty tricks against competitor Via, released anti-Via messages in the media thinly diguised as a public service warning, alerting consumers to the alarmingly lower costs of its competitor's products.

    Intel claims that Via does not have the necessary licensing for its Apollo P4X266 chip set.

    An Intel executive somehow decided it would be helpful to their profits to inform the public that Via concerns itself with manufacturing products rather than getting into bed with Intel.

    Intel representatives have privately cautioned PC and motherboard manufacturers in the United States and overseas against using the product, saying it could draw them into a costly legal battle, said sources with some of those companies.

    Determined to go all the way with the bad press, Intel threatened prospective corporate clients of their competitor with legal action if they used the more efficient product.

    Intel has repeatedly taken Via to court over licensing disputes and is currently is pursuing a lawsuit involving chip sets designed by Via for use with Athlon processors made by rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

    Intel has a history of fighting its competition in the courtroom rather than in the marketplace.

    According to Intel, Rambus offers the best performance.

    Intel apparently considers itself credible enough to offer "impartial" advice to consumers.

    Pricing has become a key issue this year as Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., and PC makers struggle through an industrywide slump.

    Intel is nervous and jumpy about this, despite claims inferring that Via produces an inferior product.

    Amid weaker-than-expected sales of the Pentium 4, Intel has announced it will release an SDRAM chip set next month and a DDR product early next year.

    Intel's numbers are down and it's looking to point fingers. Intel itself plans to use similar manufacturing techniques to those it defames, but can't get them into the marketplace as fast as its competition.

    But with Via releasing its DDR chip set now, the company, which holds about a 35 percent share of the world chip set market, stands to reap financial rewards by beating Intel to the market by several months.

    Whereas Via has all their ducks in a row, stands to profit from it, and Intel doesn't like it, opting for a smear campaign.

    Following Via's announcement this week, Intel claimed the company is not authorized to sell the product.

    Lacking in actual facts against Via's product, Intel simply repeated the same gripes over again to pad out the press release.

    "They are not licensed to sell products that are compatible with the Pentium 4," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.

    And over again.

    Mulloy would not say whether Intel was warning its business partners to avoid using Via's product, saying only that "those discussions are typically very private."

    Intel refused to admit to telling companies the same thing behind closed doors that it's currently telling the public in a national press release, describing it as a very private matter.

    However, a Via representative confirmed that companies had reported such incidences to them.

    However, its competitor says they know Intel has.

    Brown declined to discuss the licensing controversy, saying only that Via was "comfortable with this."

    Brown was reluctant to say anything without running it through Via's legal department first, but suggested he didn't think Intel had a leg to stand on.

    In other news, sources at Intel say they've decided to forego this kind of shallow denouncement in favor of simply advertising its competitors products in a line of television and print advertisements.

    What kind of godawful reporting is this? Intel smear campaigns billed as news... Didn't they bother interviewing the companies in question that Intel was suspected of threatening, rather than getting a very biased "Did not!" "Did too!" from Intel and Via? Sheesh. I'm surprised this was accepted by Slashdot, although it was fun ripping it apart. Blatant corporate hijinx are beat sitcoms hands-down for entertainment value.
  • I'm more than happy to oblige Intel. I'll just stay clear of their CPU's. Since they're stupid enough to enforce patents like that -- I'll simply not use'em.

    There are good alternatives available. :)
  • But what's Intel going to do as soon as Via P4 boards hit the market, sue every single board manufacturer ?

    This could be the step that makes the P4 affordable, but then Intel looses RAMBUS royalties
    (AFAIK Intel collects them) and the sales of its chipsets.

    Intel is just spreading bull to scare customers away from Via over to Intel.
  • Via bought S3 graphics.... from anandtech "Luckily VIA has another alternative, because of their acquisition of S3 Graphics VIA claims to have inherited licensing rights to Intel's buses which were originally given to S3. "

    If they really have a license for P4s, then this is just like Microsoft calling linux a cancer... they are afraid of it, and intel knows that can't get out of the rambus deal until 2002, they'll lose a lot of chipsets to VIA in those months.

    I have a feeling that VIA has a leg to stand on, while I'm not a fan of them, I hope the hurt intel pretty bad.
  • this is just one more reason to not get a P4
    in proformance test DDR previeled over RDRAM
  • VIA is not the only one.

    Intel appears to be essentially on the warpath against chipset makers. Well, there is at least one chipset maker which seems to have Intel's approval (maybe Intel is going to buy them. heh,heh), but it appears that Intel is refusing to license the P4 bus technology to all the others.

    If this is not just some kind of posturing (which it probably is) it could lead to more complete polarization of the Intel architecture market into Intel and non-Intel camps. That is, the chipset vendors may have no choice but to put all their efforts into making AMD compatible products only. It seems kind of humorous that there could be a non-Intel Intel-Architecture camp.

    It's a shame that Intel didn't patent the x86 instruction set, then they could have stopped AMD, cyrix and others from ever building processors at all.

    MM
    --
  • The Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) issued a warning that automobile and truck accessories sold by AutoZone Inc.(NYSE:AZO) did not have a license for the interfaces on Ford vehicles.

    "We're especially upset by the release of inexpensive `Yosemite Sam - Back Off!' and `Naked Girl Silhouette' mudflaps. They have no right to sell those things and put them on Ford Vehicles.", a Ford spokesman was quoted as saying. AutoZone officials declined to comment on the threatened lawsuit, but an inside source claimed that they regarded Ford's move as "asinine".

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