NVIDIA Launches Website Detailing Antitrust Case Against Intel

It's been a few months since we've talked much about the FTC's investigation of Intel's alleged abusive, monopolistic behavior but the case isn't sitting still. NVIDIA is a major party of the inquiry and the GPU manufacturer has just launched a new area within its own site dubbed "The Case For Innovation" detailing the findings and documents of the case.

"One of the FTC's concerns is Intel's attempt to and behavior of blocking the GPU from getting into the marketplace," said Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA's CEO. "Today if you were buying a high-end desktop PC you could have amazing graphics and the GPU inside is doing 3D graphics for you...in certain form factors, like notebooks, where Intel bundles everything together and prevents other technology, like the GPU, from being able to be purchased by our customers. [This means] that the consumer in a notebook environment can't benefit from great graphics."

Asked if he thinks Intel and his own company could come to the bargaining table and work out an amicable relationship, Jen-Hsun said no. "There's no reason to do that. They're a large company we're a large company, we both have plenty of financial and legal resources."

Awesome DX11 water rendering is awesome. Image is from our Fermi preview.

If the situation seems a bit muddled, remember that there are two separate cases at work here. First there's the lawsuit between Intel and NVIDIA in which NVIDIA is alleging that Intel broke its contractual agreements and Intel is claiming that it should be allowed to dissolve the agreement between itself and NVIDIA, terminate NVIDIA's rights to the tech in received from Intel, and retain full access to the technology NVIDIA made available to itself. The second case is the actual FTC investigation. NVIDIA is a significant partner to the FTC inquiry but did not launch the probe.

There could also be a bit of personal enmity at work here. The two companies have been headed for a collision for several years. NVIDIA's chipset division was a competitive threat against Intel's while published benchmark comparisons left Intel lurching along like an arthritic, three-legged elephant. Then Intel announces that it'll be getting into graphics and changing the entire way 3D rendering is done. NVIDIA counters those statements with some choice comments on how Intel's GPU looks like something from five years ago, waits until Intel's Atom is really making waves, and launches Ion. Two months later (immediately following legal paper-waving), Intel gets caught red-handed distributing internal FUD about NVIDIA's Ion.

We're not sure there's a law against being a jerk but documents like this didn't endear NVIDIA towards Intel. It's also hilarious.

Despite Jen-Hsun's remarks we wouldn't be surprised if the two companies do settle out of court. NVIDIA's chipset business is essentially on hiatus and it's licensed SLI technology to Intel. It's possible that Team Green will actually argue that it was only forced to license SLI tech to non-NVIDIA chipsets because Intel was making trouble in other areas; we don't know much about the GPU designers' legal strategy yet. As for Intel, the company has already taken quite a bit of heat from multiple governments and investigations worldwide. In all such cases Intel has maintained that it competes fairly and that its strategies do not harm consumers. To be fair, the company's activities have never been found to be illegal in a court of law, but none of the administrative bodies (including the FTC) have ever found Intel's argument compelling enough to not launch an investigation once the question of whether or not monopolistic abuse occurred was set before the organization.

CNN Money has posted an interview with Jen-Hsun available here