Intel Loses CPU Patent Lawsuit And Is Ordered To Pay This Firm Nearly $1 Billion

Hand holding an Intel Core i9-7900X processor in front of a motherboard.
Intel is on the hook for a massive $948.8 million judgement after a federal jury in Texas decided it infringed on a key patent held by VLSI Technology, a silicon valley firm that designs and manufacturers custom and semi-custom integrated circuits. It's the latest showdown in what's become an ongoing saga between Intel and VLSI, with the two having faced off in trial three times since last year.

At issue is US Patent 7,606,983 for "sequential ordering of transactions in digital systems with multiple requestors." It essentially boils down to, in part, how a CPU processes data and keeps the information flowing from memory.

During trial, VLSI attorney Morgan Chu argued that certain Intel processors infringe on the patent "millions and millions" of times per second by shuttling data "on the equivalent of the fast lane" for better overall performance, according to Bloomberg. Those chips include processors from within Intel's Skylake and Cascade Lake stacks, both of which are now several generations old.

Intel attorney Bill Lee countered that the patent doesn't describe technology used in any of the company's modern chips, and added that "there's not a shred of evidence" suggesting that Intel's engineers copied the patent. He further argued that the patent is invalid anyway because it's based on technology that was already outlined in an earlier patent.

The jury ultimately sided with VLSI and awarded it nearly $1 billion. While a mighty sum, that's actually less than previous amounts sought. In March of last year, VLSI won a $2.18 billion award against Intel in a separate patent infringement case. Intel is in the process of appealing the verdict.

VLSI also tried to squeeze Intel for an additional $3 billion for yet another patent dispute, but Intel won that case. However, after losing the first trial and now this one, Intel's total patent infringement bill (barring appeals) is in the range of $3 billion.