The role of AMD and Cyrix in Digital?s legal fight over Intel?s rights to Risc technology became clearer today. Questions remain whether Digital, a first tier vendor that said it would use AMD K6 in its desktops, is giving its former partner preferential treatment.
The patent issue that caused Digital?s chief executive Robert Palmer to launch a pre-emptive lawsuit against Intel applies to that company, and that company alone, said Dan Kaferle, director of corporate communications at Digital US. He said there was no favouritism in the matter, refused to speculate on possible legal actions in the future and reinterated that Intel had infringed Digital patents.
He said: ?We don?t have any cross-licensing agreements with AMD on Risc technology and this lawsuit applies only to Intel.? He refused to be drawn on whether Digital would sue both Cyrix and AMD if the 10 patents in question were later found to apply to the clone chipmakers too.
But although Kaferle was coy about the clone chip manufacturers, both AMD and Digital have a past relationship, which covers some Risc technologies. Digital sold spare capacity at its multimillion chip plant in South Queensferry, Scotland, to AMD, when its Alpha Risc processor failed to achieve massive volumes. Although Digital and AMD did not cooperate on Risc development on the Alpha chip, the process technologies are very close in design to each other. Subsequently Motorola bought the plant to produce its own 64-bit Power PC processors.
David Frink, senior vice president at AMD US, said: ?Alpha had outstanding .68 micron technology similar to our .7 technology.? He claimed that, although AMD was at the forefront of Risc technology on the PC platform, there was no sharing of ideas on the technology level with Digital.
He said that his company was unable to comment on Digital?s suit against Intel, which mostly revolves around the Risc-Cisc argument of chip design.
The whole issue has now reached Byzantine levels. Intel made a terse statement that it ?did not believe? any of its products infringed on Digital?s claimed patents. ?Over the past three years Intel has been issued nearly 1,000 patents for semiconductor, microprocessor and other technologies.? It had spent over $4 billion on R&D, the statetement continued.
But Kaferle seemed to rule out suing either Cyrix or AMD, even though both companies have made money by emulating Intel - and Cyrix has followed Digital in suing Intel. They, he implied, had developed their own technology, dissimilar to Intel?s.
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