updated 03:05 pm EDT, Thu October 8, 2009
NVIDIA says suit prevents nForce sales
NVIDIA late Wednesday said it would "postpone" any future nForce mainboard chipsets until an end is reached in the countering lawsuits between itself and Intel. As Intel alleges that NVIDIA's license doesn't cover chipsets for processors with an integrated memory controller, such as all Core i5/i7 and some newer Atom processors, NVIDIA claims that it has no choice but to freeze development of future nForce chipsets until Intel's "unfair business tactics" are either halted or cleared in court.
Although it's not affected by the lawsuit, NVIDIA's nForce platform for AMD-based systems is also being frozen, the company told PCMag. It additionally promised that any Intel platforms that still use a separate memory controller, like Core 2 chips, will still get new chipsets.
The news creates a potential issue not just for traditional desktop PCs but also for notebooks. While not directly stated by NVIDIA, Intel's refusal to include its newer processors under NVIDIA's existing license would make it impractical to continue offering chipset and graphics combos such as the GeForce 9400M or Ion for future Intel systems. Apple would be particularly hurt as all of its systems save for the Mac Pro currently use the 9400M and would have to either continue on older processors or else use dedicated graphics to achieve the same performance as what the 9400M and Ion can do while integrated.
It's been rumored that NVIDIA has a replacement for the 9400M known as MCP99 that would have to be put on hold as it was only compatible with Core i5 and beyond.
NVIDIA hasn't said why it would rather cut off existing development than renegotiate a license, though it has repeatedly claimed that Intel is deliberately misinterpreting its license terms to stifle competition against its own chipsets. Since the 9400M and especially Ion are often multiple times faster than Intel's current integrated video, it provides an incentive for computer builders like Apple to skip using Intel's mainboard platforms even if they continue to use Intel processors.