Intel patents IA-64 instruction set

Expands the legal ways it thwarts cloning

A stack of new patents filed by Intel has provoked speculation that the company is in effect trying to patent the IA-64 instruction set.

According to reports, many of these new patents relate to the "very long instruction word" branch of processor architecture, involving prediction, speculation and reformatting data - integral to the IA-64 architecture.

"I don't think that they [Intel] are going to license these patents," Rich Belgard, a microprocessor consultant told the EETimes. "I think they want
to protect the IA-64 from cloning."

Other industry watchers said that it looked as though Intel was trying to lock up the patents to keep people out of the space in the market - a trend that unsettles IP lawyers, according to Leonard Rubin, an intellectual-property lawyer at Gordon, Glickson in Chicago.

In a market which increasingly regards patent litigation as business as usual, Intel's move to protect its instruction sets is not unprecedented. Rather it is representative of shift away from physical hardware patents and demonstrates the increasing importance of software in the industry today.

Most of the patents for the IA-64 architecture are actually held by Idea (Institute for the Development of Emerging Architectures), a joint venture between Intel and HP. ®

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