A US federal investigation begun in 2006 into possible anti-trust violations by graphics chip makers NVIDIA and ATI Technologies was formally closed last Friday, according to the two companies.
NVIDIA, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, and ATI, now owned by Sunnyvale, California-based Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), acknowledged that they had received subpoenas from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on 1 December 2006. Nearly two years later, the DOJ has closed its probe into the companies' pricing and marketing practices in the sale of graphics processing units (GPUs), statements by the two companies said.
NVIDIA announced that the San Francisco Office of the Antitrust Division of the DOJ has formally notified it that the DOJ investigation into potential antitrust violations related to graphics processing units and cards has been closed.
"There were no specific allegations made against (NVIDIA) during the investigation," a NVIDIA spokesperson said yesterday. NVIDIA's Ken Brown confirmed Friday's receipt of the justice department notice that the case had been closed.
AMD on Monday also announced that it had been informed Friday that DOJ's investigation was over. The closing of the anti-trust case represents more good ATI-related news for the financially struggling chip maker.
Last week, AMD announced it would be spinning off its manufacturing assets to form a separate, minority-owned semiconductor fabrication company. That move has been greeted positively by investors and partners, largely because it promises to ease a good chunk of the debt incurred by AMD that is tied to its $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI on 25 October 2006. (See: AMD, ATI in $5.4 billion deal to create a processing powerhouse)
During a press conference on 7 October, AMD said it would split into two, one company that focuses on microprocessor design and the other on the business of manufacturing them.
As part of the split, AMD is launching a new company, dubbed The Foundry Company, a pairing between AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC). The pair will launch a new US-based semiconductor manufacturing company in New York. The Foundry Company, which also includes a massive investment from Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Co., will address the growing demand for independent foundry production capabilities, AMD said.
AMD said Mubadala will invest $314 million, more than doubling its current stake in AMD, reaching 19.3 per cent from 8.1 per cent. ATIC, also based in Abu Dhabi, will invest $2.1 billion, assuming $1.2 billion of AMD's current debt, for a stake in Foundry.
ATIC also expects to invest between $3.6 billion and $6 billion to the Foundry Company over the next five years to help AMD, the world's No. 2 chip maker, expand its capacity beyond the manufacturing facilities AMD initially contributes to the Foundry Company. The funds will be used by the Foundry Company to expand capacity at its fabs in Dresden, Germany and the construction of the new facility in Saratoga County, New York.