back to article AMD's daring new money-making strategy: Sue everyone! Mwahaha

Advanced Micro Devices has accused a handful of companies of infringing patents it holds on graphics processor technology. The beleaguered designer of CPUs and GPUs claims that LG, Vizio, MediaTek and Sigma Designs have ripped off three rather generic-looking patents it has owned since it acquired ATI in 2006. AMD wants the …

  1. a_yank_lurker

    Then there will be one

    It looks like Chipzilla will not have any serious competition in the near future. AMD's financials must be very bad.

    1. Rabidcamel

      Re: Then there will be one

      6 months ago AMD's stock was 2 dollars a share...............The stock now sits at 13 dollars a share and will probably hit 20 after ryzens release.............. I think you and the author may do well to investigate a little bit. Considering the new chipsets rival intels flagship processors and the new vega rivals nvidias flagship.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Then there will be one

        I think ARM would disagree. Intel might become the only option for Intel architecture, but there's plenty of choice of chip manufacturers for the ARM stuff.

        Looks like MS are taking ARM seriously. Most mobile stuff is there anyway. Be interesting to see if Apple ever reverse their decision to go Intel for their 'proper' computers.

        1. rav

          Re: Then there will be one

          What you fail to understand Grasshopper, computers no longer just depend on CPU's they must have efficient and powerfull GPU's.

          Without GPU's the PC, Tablet, or Smartphone is junk.

          Only AMD and NVidia design and fab GPU's and Intel rather lame foray into graphics computing just demonstrates this weakness. Even the top CPU manufacturer can not get it done without NVidia patents and even then the result was laughably poor.

  2. Paul J Turner

    That's the point

    "All three, to El Reg, sound like technical descriptions for all modern GPUs."

    Well, yes. The Unified Shader in particular was a big step forward and if they have patents on it you can bet that Nvidia will be next on the list when they've finished with the 'littler' guys.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's the point

      nVidia likely have a fuckton of patents on stuff that AMD uses in it's graphics chips, so there's that whole mutually assured destruction deterrent effect thing going on between them. Why sue when the only people to benefit would be the lawyers?

      1. Brian Miller

        Re: That's the point

        Didn't nVidia rip off Silicon Graphics' patents? Hmmm, then SGI sued them, and then they formed a "strategic alliance."

        Could that be AMD's future?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That's the point

          Considering the shared, or simlar tech between the two, I imagine they already have at least some form of patent sharing, possibly as a "If you don't directly rip us off, we won't complain" otherwise we'd be stuck in the graphical dark ages.

        2. Dave K

          Re: That's the point

          "Didn't nVidia rip off Silicon Graphics' patents?"

          They sure did, and it was one of the worst mistakes in SGI's history and led them to nicely towards bankruptcy a few years later. After all, what point is a "strategic alliance" when you're hardly making any graphics products any more anyway? SGI were moving towards supercomputers at the time, and all they did was give Nvidia free access to all their patents and technologies without a penny in return.

          Patents do need to be defended, and whilst it's fine signing cross-license deals with similar companies (as AMD will likely have with NVidia and Intel), if you don't enforce when other companies infringe them, you're just giving away your technology for free. Whether you agree if these patents should exist or not is another matter of course, but then a lot of patents look blindingly simple on paper...

  3. Neoc

    Wouldn't "mini-Chipzilla" be best renamed "Chipzuki"?

  4. Tom 64

    Testing the waters

    AMD arent typically known for going after patent infringers. Seems like a particularly slick lawyer with a slicker sales pitch was somehow allowed into the board room.

    With those rather generic sounding patents, they could probably go after anyone who designs graphics chips. I'm guessing the fact that they haven't filed against mediatek an nvidia means they aren't too confident about pulling this off against a company with the resources for a good defence.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Testing the waters

      Orrrr. Those companies are already paying (in money, or in patent-swaps) for the use of the IP. The latter is fairly common industry practice, particularly among companies large enough to have decent patent portfolios to trade from.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Testing the waters

        "companies large enough to have decent patent portfolios to trade from."

        Apart from AMD, do any of the targets make GPUs? If not, how can they be sued for buying in chips unless they can be shown to have known in advance the chips were fabbed unlicenced. Surely the only people who pay a licence fee are the people making the chips. Will AMD be suing me for using an LG TV if it contains an infringing chip?

        I'm not so sure about the first listed patent either. I'm not seeing anything new or unique in that. Parallel processing and pipelining was around a long time before that patent date. Using an exiting tool or method in a different application doesn't make that specific tool or method patentable, unless it makes a unique and new combination effectively creating a new tool or method. eg you could patent a new and unique car but that doesn't give you a patent on the wheel.

  5. analyzer

    Leaving nvidia out is not that surprising.

    ATI and nvidia having been the only real GPU designers have an enormous number of patents each. There have been recent reports that intel have been cosying up to AMD for access to their patents as the agreement they have with nvidia runs out soon, later this year end of March

    They will need to get an agreement with at least one of them just to stop another lawsuit.

  6. Rabidcamel

    Take a minute and look at the honestly think AMD is going after money?.......If they are suing they have reasonable evidence..and they arent going to sue for cash they will settle for licensing agreements.

    1. nijam Silver badge

      > If they are suing they have reasonable evidence

      Not necessarily. In the majority of IP cases, the cost of defending a lawsuit is so high that even non-infringing defendants settle rather than face the higher cost of a successful defence.

  7. rav

    Asynchronous Compute Engines: IP worth fighting for.

    Obviously AMD is not going to let ANYONE poach their Asynchronous Compute and Asynchronous Shader Pipeline Technology.

    They certainly can not impede software emulation but we've all seen just how that has worked for NVidia.

    Google the patents of G H Loh or Gabriel H Loh. He is an AMD fellow and has dozens of memory and grapics patenst co-owned by AMD. Especially patenst regarding HBM memory. And using HBM memory or stacked memory with GPU's and programmable cache.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Asynchronous Compute Engines: IP worth fighting for.

      High Bandwidth Memory memory. Memory Squared! My type of memory.

  8. rav

    AMD Patents ARE UPHELD>.

    AMD shader IP has been upheld by the US Court of Appeals.

    Why does TheRegister support IP theft?

    Intel GPU just suffered a major setback

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