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By | Tony Smith 8th May 2008 09:54

Nvidia paid the right amount for 3dfx, court affirms

Long-dead GPU brand exhumed, swiftly re-interred

Here's a blast from the past: graphics card maker 3dfx. The long defunct brandname - once the acme of computer graphics - briefly rose from the dead this month when erstwhile shareholders' failed to get $100m out of Nvidia.

Nvidia, long-term Register readers may recall, acquired its one-time arch-rival seven years ago after a bitter legal battle over patents. The 3D graphics pioneer ran out of cash in 2000 having burned through its resources trying to get its top-of-the-line Voodoo 5 card family to market, the enormous, power-hungry Voodoo 5 6000 in particular.

First, 3dfx announced it would stop making graphics cards to focus on chip design. Then it declared bankruptcy, and Nvidia stepped in to acquire its intellectual property and other assets for $112m. The deal went through early in 2001.

Enter one of the collapsed company's trustees, who subsequently sued Nvidia, alleging the GPU giant hadn't paid what 3dfx's mortal remains were truly worth, in turn harming the collapsed firm's creditors. It sought damages of at least $100m.

The case eventually went to trial in the US District Court of Northern California, bankruptcy division, and Nvidia this month confirmed the verdict: the case had gone its way.

The trustee may yet appeal against the verdict - if it does, Nvidia will fight on, the company pledged.

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