A surprise move by Nintendo to dump Mips in favour of IBM in its next generation console, Dolphin, could revive a simmering legal battle in Silicon Valley.
While it was still competing for the coveted microprocessor spot in Dolphin, Mips put on hold the threat of a lawsuit against graphics chip startup ArtX, which was formed by ex-Silicon Graphics - then the parent of Mips - employees.
Now that Mips is out at Nintendo and ArtX has been chosen to supply the Dolphin graphics chip, sources within SGI are saying that the lawsuit could be revived.
However neither SGI, Mips nor ArtX executives returned repeated calls to comment for this story.
Last year SGI/Mips threatened ArtX with several lawsuits, including misappropriated trade secrets, engaging in unfair competition, breaching contract and interfering with prospective economic advantage, which raised some question as to whether or not the rumored Nintendo/ArtX alliance would actually take place.
However last week, Nintendo announced that it will use an IBM PowerPC processor to power its next generation gaming system called Dolphin and the second key chip will be a graphics engine designed by Silicon Valley startup ArtX and fabricated by NEC.
Mips designed the graphics processor and the main microprocessor currently used inside the Nintendo64 systems. According to company sources, Mips may revive a lawsuit it filed against Artx a year ago.
Also named in the suit were Artx chief executive Wei Yen and the company's technology guru, Tim Van Hook. Yen, who founded ArtX is a former SGI senior vice president who guided the company's Nintendo operation. Van Hook, also a former SGI employee, was a key architect for the Nintendo64 platform.
The suit, which alleged that ArtX infringed upon its intellectual property, was suspended in May last year without prejudice. At that time, ArtX had agreed to work with Nintendo to select a microprocessor manufacturer for the future consoles. Mips was a candidate for that contract.
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