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Japanse boffin sues Intel

by on29 June 2022

It nicked FPGA SoC chips that use ALM and my other acronyms

Japanese boffin Masahiro Iida is incandesnant with rage that Intel has borrowed his idea for Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and System-on-Chip (SoC) chips that employ Adaptive Logic Modules (ALM).

Iida sued Intel for infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,812,737 which he has held from 2004 to 2014 after having a brilliant idea as a doctoral student back in 2001.

He thought it would be a wizard idea to configure large look up tables (LUTs) so that a single M-input N-output LUT can operate as a single “whole” LUT or as a group of “fractured” LUTs.

His discovery reportedly helped substantially reduce the implementation area and power consumption for chips that used the innovation.

Iida filed for a patent application on June 29, 2001, and consequently did so in the United States on June 28, 2002. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued the '737 patent(opens in new tab) entitled “programmable logic circuit device having to look up table enabling to reduce implementation area” to Iida on November 2, 2004, which he has been the sole owner since then until October 1, 2014.

Altera and Xilinx are two the big players in the FPGA market. Intel bought Altera for $16.7 billion in 2015, and AMD consequently acquired Xilinx for $54 billion this year. Iida’s complaint pertains to Altera’s Stratix II line of FPGA chips launched in 2004 using ALMs. The company continued to utilize ALMs in its subsequent Stratix chips, including the Stratix III, Stratix IV, Stratix V, and Stratix 10, and in some of its other Arria and Cyclone product lines. After the Altera acquisition, Intel continued to manufacture and commercialize the Stratix, Arria, and Cyclone lineups. In addition, the chipmaker’s Agilex chips also use ALMs.

According to the filing, Intel may have benefited significantly from the products, with up to 80 per cent of its annual revenues coming from selling FPGA and SoC that used ALMs. The filing estimated at least $11.5 billion from sales of the accused products over six years (Q3 2016 to 2022).

Despite the plaintiff’s notice, Intel continued to make, offer to sell and sell the accused FPGA chips without a license from Iida.

Iida is looking for monetary compensation equal to or greater than a reasonable royalty that he should have received if Intel had licensed his patent. He also requested that the Court grant him up to three times that amount found by the jury for Intel’s infringement pursuant and his attorney’s fees.


Last modified on 29 June 2022
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