Microsoft and Qualcomm have been touting their plans to introduce Windows 10 ARM devices, but others don’t seem so thrilled. Intel published a blog post on Thursday titled ‘X86: Approaching 40 and Still Going Strong’.
By itself, that wouldn’t raise any alarm bells. The newsroom article celebrates, in part, almost forty years since the first x86 processor. It is, however, interesting timing.
Microsoft and Qualcomm recently announced plans to bring Windows 10 devices to market. They would have the battery life advantages of Qualcomm’s ARM chips, whilst still being able to run regular x86 applications.
Possible Patent Conflict
It’s a powerful offering, and one Intel doesn’t seem to support. The tone of Intel’s article diverged significantly toward the end, under a heading titled ‘Protection x86 ISA Innovation’.
The company states:
“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. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago.
Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel’s x86 ISA will meet a different fate…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 Microsoft and Qualcomm are not mentioned by name, it seems like a pretty damning threat giving the timing. When asked for comment by ZDNet, and Intel spokesperson replied:
“Intel respects intellectual property rights and we expect others to do the same. x86 technology is both proprietary and central to our business, and we’re concerned any time it appears that others may be copying it inappropriately. We will thoroughly evaluate any products that claim to emulate x86 technology, and vigorously enforce our intellectual property rights if we believe they are infringed.”
Microsoft and Qualcomm are yet to release a statement on the matter.