Semi-Custom Business Unit Creates New Revenue Stream For AMD

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2013 - 10:28 AM |
Tagged: x86, SoC, semi-custom chip, Patent, ip, APU, amd

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has an extensive intellectual property (IP) portfolio. The company has a range of products from CPUs and graphics cards to video acceleration hardware. It is also the only other major player to have a license to build chips with the x86 ISA. With the launch of its Semi-Custom Business Unit, AMD plans to take advantage of the engineering experience and patent portfolio to create a new revenue stream. AMD will work with other companies to create customized processors that integrate custom IP cores and technology but use AMD's existing products as a base to cut down on engineering time and R&D costs.

The first such customized chip is the System on a Chip used in Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming console. AMD intends to market its modular SoC technology and custom IP integration services to makers of set top boxes, smart TVs, tablets, PCs, networking hardware, and High Performance Computing applications. AMD argues that using its Semi-Custom Business Unit to create a customized SoC is cheaper and faster to design and produce than a fully-custom design, which makes sense since most of the engineering work is already done. AMD could stand to make quite a bit of extra money here, especially if it can land design wins for governmental and industrial design contracts. Intel's x86 license scarcity may actually benefit AMD here, in fact.

AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit consists of an engineering team led by AMD Corporate Vice President and General Manager Saeid Moshkelani. I think doing this is a smart move for the x86 underdog, and it will be interesting to see how well the division does for the company's bottom line.

Source: AMD

Patent Case vs. Newegg Ends with a Shellshocker

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: patents, Patent, newegg

What is obvious, wrought with prior art, and worth 2.5 million dollars?

One less thing.

Soverain, a company who sues other companies for patent infringement as a profession (because according to Ars Technica, they do not make any sales), has been taking a cut of many online retailers for a decade. Victoria's Secret was mandated to pay just over $9 million in damages while Avon was ordered to pay just under $9 million and both must pay just over a percent in royalties. Newegg also lost their suit, and was ordered to pay $2.5M in damages. They appealed, and won.

neLogo.png

Soverain? You took it from a geek. Hard.

Ars Technica did their characteristic investigative reporting and compiled the wake of legal problems caused by Soverain. Ultimately it was prior art from CompuServe which proved to a panel of three judges exactly how obvious the patents actually are during Newegg's appeals hearing.

The outcome of Newegg's appeal also wiped out the other rulings. Anything that makes scantily clad Victoria's Secret models happy must be a good thing, right?

Source: Ars Technica

WIPO’s rebuttal to internet consortium very conCERNing

Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2011 - 05:06 PM |
Tagged: WIPO, Patent, ISOC, CERN

While this is a slight departure from business as usual here, there was a recent fire that roasted through the internet: at the Global Innovation Index, a number of speakers gathered during the “Innovation for Expanding the Frontiers of Growth and Development” panel. The closing argument for the panel was given to Dr. Francis Gurry, director of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) who was seated directly between Lynn Saint-Amour of the Internet Society (ISOC) and Rolf-Dieter Heuer of the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN). I will let the captioned screenshot capture the mood of the situation.

conCERN.jpg

WIPO seems to believe that internet development is better antISOCial, which is conCERNing

The arguments that Gurry made seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding the concept of the World Wide Web and specifically the W3C standards body itself.

"If you had found a very flexible licensing model in which the burden for the innovation of the World Wide Web had been shared across the whole community in a very fair and reasonable manner and with a modest contribution for everyone for this wonderful innovation it would have enabled an enormous investment in turn in further basic research."

We have that: everyone invests in their personal projects relative to their goals and pushes it to be included freely into the open standard. The money does not flow into a single entity for research; the research flows into a single entity for inclusion.

"[after discussing the innovations on the patented Saxophone which is now public domain ...] You can contrast that of course with the violin where nobody knows how the violins of Chremona in the 18th century were made because the secret was lost as it was passed in secrecy from family to family and not disclosed."

What Gurry apparently does not understand is that the W3C and other organizations standardizing the World Wide Web likewise ensure a lack of trade secrecy. What is more important for the success of the internet is that we are interoperable between all parties which the patent system does not promote. Even with a vastly dominant marketshare and ridiculous amounts of money, which Gurry seems to believe is the whole of research; Microsoft was unsuccessful in unseating the W3C standards and eventually needed to cave into supporting it. This structure is free which lowers the barrier to entry for those with a good idea: mission accomplished.

Lastly, as we are well aware: in practice we do not see patents used to disclose trade secrets. The ability to purchase something in one click is not a trade secret to be lost forever and yet it remains a defensible patent. Intellectual Property is a flexible tool that received a lot of bad stigma recently, but WIPO needs to acknowledge that it is still an unsuitable tool for the job at hand. Lastly, like a flexible pocket knife, patents can and have been used as a weapon as easily as a tool.

Source: BoingBoing

Don’t touch my wife! VIA sues Apple for patent infringement

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 24, 2011 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: VIA, Patent, htc, apple

Do not let the title deceive you: we probably also find Apple and Patent Infringement stories as boring as you do; this case on the other hand makes it through our tightly meshed sift and into our news feed. VIA is best known for chipsets and specialty x86 processors. VIA’s influence was recently felt through the introduction of the netbook craze as a result of their VIA Nano CPU line which lead to the rise of the Intel Atom processor line. Recently VIA decided that they would set their sights on Apple and sue them over three patents. This is one of those cases where the what is not nearly as funny as the alleged why.

Apple-logo.jpg

Did Apple take a bite out of VIA’s forbidden fruit?

(Image from Wikipedia, modified)

If it seems to you that VIA is suing Apple over seemingly no reason then you probably are correct. There does not appear to be any public reason for VIA to go after Apple. HTC on the other hand has many reasons to sue, technically counter-sue, Apple. For those wondering where HTC came from in this discussion: the chairperson for HTC is the wife of the CEO of VIA Technologies. It very much seems like the whole reason for the VIA lawsuit is to protect his wife's company in their own lawsuits. If these patent lawsuits continue on their current trajectory then we might just be forced to sit every company down and settle like we did with similar issues back in the 90’s: Springer.

Did Apple bite off more than they could chew? (Registration not required for comments)

Source: PCMag

Internet Machines' PCI-Express Patent Lawsuit Targets Numerous System Vendors

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2011 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: Troll, pcie, PCI Express, Patent, Lawsuit

There is an expression that states "everything is bigger in Texas," and that goes double for patent lawsuits. A company by the name of Internet Machines MC LLC recently lodged a complaint with the Eastern District of Texas for alleged patent infringement by a number of OEM manufacturers, system builders, and retailers of computers containing PCI Express switching technologies. Specifically, Internet Machines holds US Patent number 7,539,190, a rather generalized patent that covers multicasting in a shared address space wherein data is stored in a buffer and then forwarded to its intended port. The companies being called to court include PLX Technology, Alienware, Dell, Samsung, and others. While the computers that are assembled using PCI Express may well be utilizing switching technology, the fact that Internet Machines is going after system assemblers and retailers-- companies that work with computers but do not design and build the motherboards and other components themselves-- instead of the standards body that designs and maintains the PCI Express standard that everyone in the industry uses raises a question of integrity on the part of Internet Machines. Are their motives true in defending their patents, or is it the method of operation of a patent troll?

 

5-c9a8bb5078.jpg

A diagram describing the patent in question

A system builder who wishes to remain anonymous contacted us with further details on the patent case in question. It seems that this patent showdown is not Internet Machines’ first rodeo. They have previously pursued other companies over US Patents 7,421,532 and 7,454,552 which cover switching with transparent and non-transparent ports. The case was settled in 2010, and it seems that Internet Machines (a seemingly no longer operating company) is not satisfied with the settlement. Internet Machines is moving for a jury trial in this latest round of lawsuits and concerns yet another data switching patent for PCI Express that covers multicasting in a shared address space.  It widens the net further by including numerous system builders and OEMs that build devices that contain PCI Express technology but do not deal with the PCIe standard directly. How the company has been able to patent aspects of the PCI Express standard is unclear; however, they patent is worded in such an ambiguous way that it could apply to almost anything they wanted it to.

Beyond the ambiguous use of the patent system is the issue of targeting companies that have little control over the PCI Express specification to begin with. Our source worded it best in stating that PCI Express is a standard that everyone uses. The companies targeted by Internet Machines’ recent lawsuit do not manufacture motherboards or control the PCI Express standard. “We build computers, that’s it.” What are your thoughts on the issue? Let us know in the comments below.