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Via gives muted two fingers to Intel

Via 'in talks' over P4 dispute, dismisses Rambus

It's a story that's been all over the IT news in the last few days. Intel is threatening Taiwanese chipset maker Via Technologies with a lawsuit for making a motherboard that uses the Pentium 4 chip with DDR SDRAM memory.

But Via is bullish about the outcome. Graham Jackson, European sales manager for Via, confirmed today that the company is in talks with Intel over licensing one of the technologies involved in the chipset. He also said the firm will make and ship the chipsets, allowing no room for doubt.

This confidence is mirrored by the company's president. "[Via's] legal team has come to me and said we don't have any legal problems," said Wenchi Chen, chief executive and president of Via, speaking at the unveiling of the chipset in June. "There is no guarantee Intel won't sue, they always do. But hopefully they will have learned their lessons from the past."

It seems not. "Anyone that launches a product that purports to be based on our technology without a licence should be very careful," Intel president and chief executive Craig Barrett warned during a recent visit to Taipei.

There's also a political element to this disagreement. Two other Taiwanese chipset makers have been granted licenses — Acer and Silicon Integrated Systems — to produce Pentium 4 chipsets that support DDR (double data rate) memory and plan to release their own products in the coming weeks. Both companies have to pay royalties to Intel to do so.

Via is also not the only one of the three which has no intention of making chipsets that support the possibly doomed memory system Rambus. Via's Jackson says the firm has matched P4/Rambus performance using SDRAM.

Via officials brushed off the possibility of legal action from the very start, pointing to a cross-licensing agreement between Intel and S3, which is affiliated with Via. Via officials believe Intel's cross-licensing agreement with S3 and its affiliation with Via covers the P4X266.


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