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AMD invests in Intel accuser

Licenses Patriot processor design, patents

AMD has invested in the small chip technology development company that's suing Intel for alleged patent infringement.

Patriot Scientific this week confirmed that AMD has bought an undisclosed number of the company's restricted shares and licensed not only its ShBoom processor patent portfolio but also its Ignite 32-bit processor design.

The financial terms of the deal were not made public. AMD is the first company to license ShBoom.

In January 2004, Patriot sued Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Matsushita and NEC for alleged infringement of patent number 5,809,336, which it owns. The company sued them because they had shipped product containing Intel processors that it also claimed violated its intellectual property rights. If the move was intended to force Intel to license the patent, it failed - Intel countersued, and was itself sued by Patriot in February 2004. Patriot is seeking monetary damages to the tune of "several hundreds of million dollars" for the alleged infringement.

Since then, Patriot has notified 150 other companies that it believes their products infringe its patent, though as yet it has not initiated legal proceedings against them, undoubtedly while it awaits the outcome of its action against Intel.

Patent 5,809,336, entitled 'High performance microprocessor having variable speed system clock', covers "the means used by the microprocessor industry to increase the internal operating speed of modern microprocessors", according to Patriot. It maintains that any CPU "operating at speeds above 110-120MHz may be in violation of portions of our patent portfolio", according to CEO Jeff Wallin. That may be one of the reasons AMD chose to reach a settlement with the company.

AMD's interest in Ignite is also interesting. Ignite is a Risc-like 32-bit processor core with a strong SIMD component. According to Patriot, multiple Ignites can work together within the company's InFlame architecture to create a multi-SIMD processor not so dissimilar to the architecture Sony and IBM have been discussing of late as 'Cell' - the CPU technology that will power the PlayStation 3. ®

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