, a company that's known for aggressively defending its patents (just ask Samsung, which seems to always be involved in patent litigation with the Cupertino outfit), may have bitten off more than it can chew when it designed its custom A7 system-on-chip
(SoC). A newly filed lawsuit by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF from here on out) accuses Apple of infringing on a patent developed at the University of Wisconsin.
Specially, the lawsuit claims Apple's A7 chip infringes upon U.S. Patent No. 5,781,752. Unless you have a strange fetish for memorizing millions of patents, we'll excuse you for not knowing what that patent covers. It's titled "Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer" and it was granted to inventors Andreas Moshovos, Scott Breach, Terani Vijaykumar, and Gurindar Sohi. Here's the abstract:
"A predictor circuit permits advanced execution of instructions depending for their data on previous instructions by predicting such dependencies based on previous mis-speculations detected at the final stages of processing. Synchronization of dependent instructions is provided by a tablet creating entries for each instance of potential dependency. Tablet entries are created and deleted dynamically to limit total memory requirements,
" states the patent's abstract.
According to the lawsuit, the work demonstrated by this patent "has been recognized as a major milestone in the field of computer microprocessor architecture/design." Several of the inventors listed have won awards based on their contribution to the patent.
As for the lawsuit, WARF claims the patent's technology exists in Apple's 64-bit A7 processor found in the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display. Furthermore, the group claims Apple knowingly infringed on the patent since it's cited in several of Apple's own patent applications.