Feds Subpoena Graphics Chip-Maker Nvidia

Nvidia Corp. said Friday it has been subpoenaed by federal investigators who are probing possible anticompetive practices among makers of computer graphics chips.

The Department of Justice investigators asked Nvidia for pricing documents, customer agreements and other documents, company spokesman Michael Hara said Friday.

"They have asked for a pretty big data dump that goes back to the late '90s," Hara said. "It's a fairly broad request."

The Santa Clara-based company said no "specific allegations have been against Nvidia" and said it plans to cooperate with the investigation.

On Thursday, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. -- Nvidia's chief rival -- announced it had received a subpoena. The Sunnyvale-based company, which recently bought graphics chip-maker ATI Technologies, said the government has not made "specific allegations" and that it intends to cooperate with the probe.

An AMD spokesman said the government demanded the company turn over documents related to graphic processors, but declined further comment.

Justice spokeswoman Gina Talamona confirmed Friday the government is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices involving the graphics processing units and cards industry.

Shares of Nvidia dropped $1.45 a share to close at $35.54 in Friday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The AMD and Nvidia subpoenas come on the heels of a 4-year-old price-fixing probe among memory chip makers. To date, four companies and 17 people have been charged, and the Justice Department has secured fines totaling more that $731 million in the probe of the dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, industry.

Government investigators also have demanded Sony Corp., Cypress Semiconductor Inc., Samsung Electronics and Toshiba Corp. turn over information related to another flavor of memory chip -- static random access memory, or SRAM.


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