Intel does not appear happy with the announcement about the Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 PCs, and thus, it has issued an indirect warning to Qualcomm. In a blog post titled “X86: Approaching 40 and Still Going Strong,” the chip maker suggested that some intellectual property infringement tussle over the use of its proprietary x86 ISA is possible going forward.
Warning to Qualcomm and Microsoft partnership
“There have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel’s proprietary x86 ISA without Intel’s authorization,” Intel’s chief lawyer Stephen Rodgers and Intel Labs Director Richard A. Uhlig stated in the post. “We do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights.”
Though Intel refrained from naming any specific company, the timing of the blog makes it very obvious. Recently, Microsoft and Qualcomm united to fit an x86 emulation in ARM-based Windows 10 PCs.
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At Computex last month, Cristiano Amon, executive vice president for Qualcomm Technologies, said, “Today’s consumers experience mobility in nearly every aspect of their lives and they’ve come to expect more from their PCs than legacy computing models are able to provide.”
Amon further stated that their Snapdragon Mobile PC platform will give a way to Windows 10 hardware makers to develop next-gen modern devices and deliver unmatched performance. Some of the biggest PC names such as ASUS, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo have already entered into an agreement to deliver Windows 10 notebooks and 2-in-1 convertibles running on Qualcomm chips.
According to Engadget, there are various benefits for having Windows 10 PCs powered by Qualcomm, like smaller and lighter machines, thanks to Qualcomm’s small parts and integrated 5G LTE connectivity. Another benefit is improved battery life. While Qualcomm has already built the Snapdragon 835 with 10-nanometer technology, Intel’s latest chip still runs on 14-nanometer parts.
What could be troubling Intel?
It is not just Qualcomm that is to be blamed. Microsoft is relying on Qualcomm to implement its new strategy for Windows 10. The chip maker is not just threatened by the Microsoft and Qualcomm partnership, but also by some of the most prominent OEM partners, such as HP, ASUS and Lenovo. All these long-time Intel friends are now looking for an opportunity outside the Intel ecosystem.
Intel, however, seems in no mood to let go and is aggressively willing to protect its “x86 innovations,” and if necessary, use its legal options to stop any force from infringing upon one of its oldest x 86 ISA intellectual properties.
The blog post stated that when Intel was new in the microprocessor business, it needed to enforce its patents against various companies, including United Microelectronics Corporation, Advanced Micro devices, Cyrix Corporation, Via Technologies and recently, Transmeta Corporation. Such actions were not needed in recent years because companies respected Intel’s Intellectual property rights, the executives said.
So far, there have been no comments from Microsoft, Qualcomm or Intel over the matter.
On Thursday, Intel shares closed up 0.61% at $36.48. Year to date, the stock is up by about 1%, while in the last three months, it is up more than 2%.