VIA preps P4 chipset (without Intel say-so)

S3's got it covered

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VIA Technologies is preparing to showcase P4 chipsets at CeBIT, Europe's biggest computer trade show, next month, according to Bloomberg. But the company doesn't have an Intel licence yet to actually build P4 chipsets.

The Taiwanese firm reckons that it does not need Intel's authorisation to build and sell P4 chipsets - as it acquired all the necessary paperwork through last year's takeover of S3. Or so it claims.

"The patent coverage from S3 allows VIA to produce chipsets for the Pentium 4," Frank Jeng, VIA's marketing manager, told Bloomberg. "There's no problem for us to develop chipsets for Intel," he said.

But this contradicts the views of an S3 insider, as told to The Register in April last year(Via-S3 deal won't solve Intel rift).

"Cross-licensing deals between S3 and Intel, which came about as a result of some wise buying of Exponential patents, were not part of the territory that VIA has bought," the source said.

So what changed since then?

For months, VIA, the world's biggest chipset designer, has proclaimed its intention to build chipsets for the Pentium 4, with or without Intel's formal permission. But all the time the company expressed confidence in its ability to secure a licence from Intel.

Few believed the company would actually go ahead and launch product - VIA has already been tied up in one long, expensive patent lawsuit with Intel, so who could guess that it has the stomach for a second bout?

Maybe it's losing patience - last week rival Taiwanese chipset supplier ALi trumpeted it had secured an Intel licence to manufacture chipsets for the P4.

But it would be better VIA waited a while longer. For the company risks overplaying its hand by launching at CeBIT. The minute it starts selling P4 chipsets and Intel's lawyers will - we reckon - come down on the company like a ton of bricks.

Despite the settlement of the lawsuit between the two
last July, Intel and VIA are not exactly bosom buddies, as our resident chipmeister Mike Magee explained at the time (AMD loose cannon in Via-Intel deal). ®

Related Link

Bloomberg: VIA to Introduce Pentium 4 Chipset Without Intel's Permission

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Intel awards ALi P4 chipset licence
Intel/ ATI settle lawsuit with patent exchange
VIA 'to be number one chipset vendor by year end'
VIA, Intel kiss and make up (but not having kids)


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