Friday, June 9th 2017

Patent War Brewing Between Intel and Qualcomm-Microsoft over x86 Emulation

Intel rigorously defends its hold over its core intellectual property, the x86 CPU machine-architecture. AMD is the only active licencee of x86, and has a competitive line of processors across market segments. It has been a long-cherished dream of chipmakers without an x86 license to have Microsoft, the world's leading PC operating system manufacturer, somehow emulate their Win32 API, which is inherently designed for the x86 architecture, on the more widely licensed ARM architecture. As one of the largest ARM chipmakers, Qualcomm pushed for 2-in-1 (notebook-to-tablet) convertible PCs driven by its Snapdragon processors, which run Windows 10, complete with support for Win32 software, besides Microsoft's UWP apps.

This Snapdragon + Windows 10 reference convertible is so impressive with its battery life and performance, that major PC OEMs such as Lenovo, HP, and ASUS have lined up to license the design and make their own designs. This would have been a licensable form-factor governed by Microsoft, much like how Intel governed the Ultrabook form-factor. This would hit hard at Intel's bottomline, because SoC makers with big R&D budgets like Qualcomm, Samsung, and NVIDIA, who each hold ARM licenses, could go on to power bigger and faster PCs which emulate x86, driving Intel out of the ecosystem. The company dropped the hammer earlier this week, in a passive-aggressive note without taking names, warning Microsoft and Qualcomm to cease from their efforts to build such a device.
Intel holds over 1,600 patents related to x86, and assured that it welcomes "lawful competition," but will not stand for "unlawful infringement of patents." Key excerpts from a statement released by the company read:
There have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel's proprietary x86 ISA without Intel's authorization. Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation ("code morphing") techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta's x86 implementation even though it used emulation.

Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel's x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel's microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel's x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights.
These are ominous signs that should Qualcomm and Microsoft continue down this path, they will either have to remove Win32 application support from their device, rendering it into a Windows RT-esque potato which only runs UWP apps; or gear up for a long-drawn IP battle between two Fortune 500 companies with billions of dollars in legal budgets. Source: HotHardware
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58 Comments on Patent War Brewing Between Intel and Qualcomm-Microsoft over x86 Emulation

#51
slehmann
bug
No, stupidity is the new church.

Intel has only stagnated in desktop CPU performance. Because they were left unchallenged in that area. But guess what? They made huge strides in the mobile space and they seriously beefed up their IGPs (they're not at Radeon level, but they're way better than GMA900). Faulting Intel for stagnating in an already stagnant market, is short sighted at best.
Since when is to not being challenged an excuse for stagnation?
In relation to the invested amount of money and ressoures regarding engineering manpower their IGPs are still crap.
And "huge strides in mobile space" mean Atom or what? I guess you talking the i3/i5/i7 XXXXU CPUs with 15W TDP? They are in a complete different league regarding power consumption compared with ARM and Atom stuff (< 7W TDP). Please compare apples to apples here.
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#52
bug
slehmann
Since when is to not being challenged an excuse for stagnation?
In relation to the invested amount of money and ressoures regarding engineering manpower their IGPs are still crap.
And "huge strides in mobile space" mean Atom or what? I guess you talking the i3/i5/i7 XXXXU CPUs with 15W TDP? They are in a complete different league regarding power consumption compared with ARM and Atom stuff (< 7W TDP). Please compare apples to apples here.
My intention wasn't to compare apples with apples, it was to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If you need to nit and pick to prove your point, knock yourself out.

And to answer your first question, Intel does not need an "excuse for stagnation". They're not a government research agency, they're a public company. They only need an excuse for not making money for their shareholders.
Posted on Reply
#53
R-T-B
evernessince
Emulation is only a crime when you use intellectual property of the party you are emulating or use their patents. For example, Apple would not be happy if someone emulated the Apple store and hoodwinked their app database. It's essentially stealing their marketplace, even though it took Apple a long time to build up all of those developers, apps, and underlying software. The same applies to x86, where Intel is not only significantly invested on the hardware side but on the software side as well. Intel compilers, dev programs, ect. It's like giving out free candy as "CandyCorp" and then someone else stealing that name and using that goodwill to sell candy based on that first impression.
So all those x86 emulators that are open source out there are illegal?

I find that hard to accept.
Posted on Reply
#54
RobJoy
Well, long live UWP then and fck Intel.

If M$ gives developers proper incentives, I am sure this is doable.
Posted on Reply
#55
RobJoy
R-T-B
So all those x86 emulators that are open source out there are illegal?

I find that hard to accept.
Well Open source means they are not profiting from the code.

And Intel only gives a shit if someone profits from their patents.
Logically.

M$ would want to profit as would the chip manufacturers. So it is a no go.
Posted on Reply
#56
rvalencia
remixedcat
ARM holdings (or a large part thereof) was acquired by Saudi Arabia sheik/prince/whatever so ARM is hanging in the balance... Intel will be just fine and x86 will be as well...
Japanese company Softbank acquired ARM holdings.

From http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/20/softbank-and-saudis-launch-largest-tech-investment-vehicle-ever.html
An investment group that includes Japan's SoftBank and Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth arm announced on Saturday it had closed $93 billion in capital.

In addition to SoftBank and the Saudi kingdom's public investment fund, whose roles were previously announced, investors in Softbank Vision Fund include the Mubadala Investment
Company of the United Arab Emirates, Apple, Foxconn Technology Group, Qualcomm and Sharp.
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#57
dont whant to set it"'
As it should, maybe intel should of doubled up IPC and overall performance at, let me say same power envelope, the lease, after every tick-tock or whatever their plan was ,( I do not know who I Am quoting:"Shoot first; no questions") performance wise that is.
Ah and wasn't it to long ago when I /(we'd) thought multicore CPU gaming is the future and here we are as if nothing changed much(except the clisee games multicore done quite bad, pretty much all, and quite the same would go for Gpus: here you go when you open up gpu-z: big numbers, but we made up a name for some graphics effect that taxes graphics card. if only pay me,blow me,pay me,..., considering price's, le: and wasted time of consumers.
Posted on Reply
#58
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
RobJoy
Well, long live UWP then
Yeeeeaaahhhh....._Im not really sure you understand how bad that would be for those of us that are gamers.
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