Major semiconductor companies are expected to bid for patents filed by failed Apple-backed start-up Exponential, according to US reports.
Next week, the company - which closed its doors earlier this year - will auction 45 patents with Digital, Intel, AMD and Cyrix-Natsemi all expected to bid.
Exponential was partly owned by Apple but ran into trouble earlier this year despite developing fast chip technology to rival or beat existing designs. In particular, the company was developing a super-fast design based on Risc technology, which would have competed with the up-and-coming Intel Merced 64-bit design. This patent was filed some months before Intel filed its own Merced patent.
That fact is set to make the auction very competitive. Both AMD and Cyrix want to develop clones of Merced processors eventually but Intel will want to prevent them doing so, possibly by buying up the Exponential technology itself.
Digital has an interest in the auction because of its outstanding lawsuit against Intel over patent issues. Besides the x.86 chip makers, other semiconductor companies including S3, Texas Instruments and Rambus are expected to bid for some of the patents.
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