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Intel hints that Microsoft, Qualcomm's Windows 10/ARM x86 emulation could infringe on...

By midian182 ยท 16 replies
Jun 9, 2017
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  1. During the recent Computex event, Qualcomm and Microsoft revealed the first OEMs that would be using their Windows 10 on ARM platform announced last December. But it seems the Snapdragon 835 PCs, which use x86 emulation technology, aren’t being welcomed by one company: Intel.

    The chip maker didn’t mention either firm by name, but in a recent blog post titled “X86: Approaching 40 and Still Going Strong,” Intel gave a strong hint that Qualcomm and Microsoft’s plan could be infringing upon its intellectual property.

    "There have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel's proprietary x86 ISA without Intel's authorization," writes chief lawyer Stephen Rodgers and Intel Labs Director Richard A. Uhlig. "We do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights."

    The blog post also states: "Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them."

    The post goes on to mention previous instances where it enforced its patents against companies that used x86 emulation.

    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.

    Qualcomm and the Windows 10 parntership will result in smaller, lighter machines that offer always-on functionality through the SnapDragon 835’s X16 LTE modem, as well as a longer-lasting battery. While Universal Windows Platform (UWP) will run natively, legacy win32 programs are run through an emulation process using the SoC’s kernel.

    Intel is doubtlessly concerned about the prospect of a new line of devices that are more mobile and have up to 50 percent more battery life than its x86-based machines, thanks to their smaller circuit boards.

    It’s expected that the new SnapDragon 835 PCs from Asus, HP, and Lenovo will arrive this fall. But it looks as if Intel could be ready to take this fight to the courts. Whether it has the resources to take on the combined might of both Qualcomm and Microsoft is another matter.

    Permalink to story.

  2. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 575   +247

    Seems like someone is jealous... I'm looking at you Intel.
    GreenNova343 likes this.
  3. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 434   +180

    Oh come on intel. I've been waiting for the surface phone since forever. x86 software on a mobile phone must happen.
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,506   +5,070

    There is nothing to be jealous over. Neither Microsoft or Qualcomm own x86. If they use x86 at all, they must have permission. The inclusion of x86 for ARM emulation is Intel's decision to make not Microsoft or Qualcomm.
    Get a phone with an x86 CPU. Oh wait, do they even exist? Perhaps you are barking up the wrong tree, because Intel may have the CPU needed for your query.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
  5. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,570   +1,787

    Emulation /=/ using x86.

    I doubt that MS and qualcomm were stupid enough to use x86 hardware for their emulation. Intel seems to be very upset, but if all qualcomm is doing is emulating purely via software, MS is going to swat intel down to the ground.
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,506   +5,070

    Do you even know what an instruction set is? Instruction set is software not hardware. And the only way to emulate x86 on ARM is to duplicate the instruction set. The instruction set of which Intel has a patent.
  7. NotParker

    NotParker TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +10

    Microsoft should just announce that Windows 10 is optimized for Ryzen.
  8. NotParker

    NotParker TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +10

  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,506   +5,070

    So we are going to debate about Hillary and Trump by bringing Lincoln into the conversation. So instead of talking about how things are, we are going to talk about how things were. When there is irrefutable evidence to ones guilt, we bring up history to try and cloud the evidence.
  10. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,659   +320

    Intel doesn't own x86 either. If it had any patents on it, they're long expired. As Intel itself said, it had to assert SIMD patents to deal with Transmeta (which by the way was in response to a Transmeta patent suit, and ended with Intel paying Transmeta $250m). Far as I could see, these patents are expired, so Intel will have to find something new to use.

    Doesn't feel clear cut to me.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,506   +5,070

    If that is the case, there is nothing to infringe on.
  12. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,659   +320

    It's possible that Intel still has relevant patents regarding parts of the instruction set. It probably has something related to AVX and later, and perhaps also earlier stuff.

    Still, I imagine that Microsoft and Qualcomm did some research about the legality of this, and have gone to some effort to not step on obvious patents, and it may be that Intel won't be able to do much about this emulation.

    I can't be sure what the situation really is, but if Intel doesn't manage to do anything about it, that would open the door to full emulation by anyone. I imagine that Intel will try to combat this on several fronts, not only patents.
  13. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,050   +1,384

    Now that AMD is starting (read: starting) to be competitive again, intel needs to be REALLY careful about how it treats its business partners...
  14. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 819   +324

    Been waiting on a 4G/LTE capable laptop with it's own mobile connected service. Only reason I see why it hasn't happened yet is that mobile ISP's still lack wide coverage, speeds, and load handling.
  15. merikafyeah

    merikafyeah TS Addict Posts: 164   +116

    I thought patents expired after 14 years. How is X86 patent still valid after 40 years?
  16. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 575   +247

    Yeah I know, true facts. I just think it's sad that innovation is held back becuse of patent holding. Don't need to start to tell me how important this is in bussiness and r&d, but still a burden.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,506   +5,070

    I do to over patenting words and shapes like round corners. But I don't have ill feeling over people protecting patents for things such as this.
    erickmendes likes this.

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