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Intel-NatSemi war looms over VIA, PC133

We mentioned legal salvoes last week - here they come

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VIA Technologies and NatSemi have thrown the gauntlet down to Intel with the announcement of a deal designed to allow VIA to produce PC133 chipsets. VIA has already agreed to buy NatSemi's Cyrix unit, in a move generally interpreted as an attempt to escape from Intel's licensing straightjacket, and as Intel has already gone on the record with the view that the deal won't give VIA a valid Intel licence, it's now clearly war. According to a VIA-NatSemi statement issued today, the two companies "strategic agreement" caters for NatSemi doing the foundry work for VIA chipset in Pentium II-type computers. "This alliance is for VIA to continue to develop and market VIA's chipset which offers the advantage of a 133MHz front-side bus, PC133 SDRAM, and AGP4X compatibility." Intel is already suing VIA for claimed breach of licence terms, and is of the view that VIA should stop shipping this kind of stuff. By manufacturing with NatSemi, VIA hopes to benefit from the age-old Intel-NatSemi cross licensing deal. Intel says this doesn't cover VIA, but by making the joint announcement today, NatSemi is saying it does. Fun and games, folks. "Through this agreement with National, VIA can continue to deliver compelling chipset solutions for our customers," said Wen-chi Chen, President and CEO, VIA. "The chipset solutions will be particularly attractive for PC manufacturers competing in the low end market space, where the cost-efficiency of these high-performance parts will be the most apparent." NatSemi seems not to have been available to give good quote for the announcement, but presumably has braced itself for the barrage of legals its 20+ year cross-licence deal ally Intel will surely unleash. ®

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