DoJ Issues Subpoena to Nvidia

Nvidia said today the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is investigating possible antitrust violations at the world’s third-largest maker of computer graphics chips.

According to a company statement, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia has received a subpoena from the DoJ related to graphics processing units and cards.

Nvidia, which has not returned a request for comment, said in a statement that it plans to cooperate with the investigation. The DoJ does not comment on active investigations.

The news of a possible federal antitrust investigation caps a troubling week for Nvidia, which announced earlier this week that it was restating $127 million in earnings between 2000-2006 because of stock-options irregularities.

Nvidia has also stated it will fully cooperate with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into the matter.

While the DoJ has made no specific allegations against Nvidia, it has been waging a high-profile antitrust campaign against price fixing in the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) industry.

The DoJ has fined four DRAM companies and 17 individuals and has secured fines totaling more than $731 million. The probe has already resulted in Korean-based Samsung and Hynix, Japan’s Elpida and Infineon of Germany pleading guilty to conspire to fix chip prices.

In addition, 14 former executives from the four companies and a former executive from U.S.-based Micron have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. All have been fined and sentenced to prison terms.

DRAM is a common semiconductor technology for high-speed storage and information retrieval for PCs, laptops, servers, printers and several other digital devices.

The DoJ is also investigating possible antitrust violations in the static random access memory (SRAM) business. To date, the DoJ has issued subpoenas to Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Cypress Semiconductor.

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