Silicon Graphics Sues nVidia

Graphics chip maker nVidia gets served with a patent suit from the big daddy of graphics

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Silicon Graphics, Inc. announced that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against nVidia Corp. in the US District Court of Delaware.

SGI's lawsuit seeks an injunction to restrain Nvidiafrom manufacturing, selling, or importing its line of RIVA processors. Also, the company is seeking monetary damages from the alleged patent violation.

The suit focuses on US Patent No. 5,706,481. Technology covered in the patent, one of more than 300 patents that the graphics giant holds, covers high-speed texture mapping for low-cost hardware acceleration. If you're not sure what the technology does, it allows programmers to wrap a two-dimensional texture onto a surface. If you want a texture that looks like wood, rocks, or sky, the texture map can be placed on a three-dimensional object in a game and give a more realistic look to the object.

"We have always been on the forefront of innovation in 3D graphics technology and visual computing," said David Orton, senior vice president of the Visual Systems Group at Silicon Graphics. "This innovation is achieved through the annual investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. We cannot allow the fruits of this investment to be misappropriated."

On the hardware side, SGI's patent talks about how its engineers combined texture cache memory and texture interpolation logic on one chip and alleges that the RIVA processors violate this patent.

Texture interpolation is a technology that allows for a texture to scale larger as you get closer to a wall or another object. The texture pulls in data from the closest surrounding textures and determines what it should fill in to make sure that the textures don't get blocky as you get closer to an object.

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