Published in Motherboards

Nvidia forced to disable chipset PCI prefetch

by on31 October 2008


Update: More trouble for Nvidia

It has come to our attention that Nvidia has ended up in more product trouble, although this time it's with regard to Nvidia's chipset division and it's not related to a manufacturing issue, but rather a lawsuit from OPTi Inc.

As the story goes, Nvidia has infringed a patent regarding to PCI prefetch that OPTi holds and although OPTi no longer makes PC chips, they now license intellectual property. The problem in this case is that Nvidia didn't come out on agreeable terms with OPTi and has to remove the PCI prefetch feature from its chipsets.

The problem with this is twofold. Firstly, it means that just about every single Nvidia chipset from the nForce 500-series and onwards is affected and as such, PCI prefetch has to be removed from all retail boards and every single BIOS upgrade that contains the PCI prefetch code has to be removed from the Web. This also means that all Nvidia partners have to release BIOS updates for every single Nvidia motherboard from the nForce 500-series and onward.

For consumers, this means that they'll get very poor PCI performance, so if you're using any PCI cards in your Nvidia-based motherboard, don't upgrade to the latest BIOS, as it will reduce the performance of the PCI bus. This isn't going to be popular with a lot of users out that that have already upgraded their BIOS, as this "feature" has already been implemented by some motherboard manufacturers going back a couple of months.

Furthermore, Nvidia will be asking for written confirmations from all its partners that older BIOS versions have been removed from their Websites and that no BIOS versions with PCI prefetch will ever see the light of day outside of the companies again. All boards currently on sale must also have the BIOS changed, although this only seems to apply to the U.S. market as of right now.

Talk about a mess and one has to wonder why Nvidia couldn't just pay up to OPTi and get it all over with, without causing all this hassle to its partners and reducing the performance of the PCI bus on its motherboards which will ultimately cause them to lose customers.


Update: Nvidia got back to us with a following comment. " This is old news from Jan 2007. NVIDIA implemented and distributed an SBIOS fix to disable the feature starting in Jan 2007, and disabled it in future hardware products that were introduced after this date. AMD is currently being sued by Opti on the exact same issue." but we still think that there is more to it. 

Last modified on 03 November 2008
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