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Nvidia's GeForce Partner Program goes under the spotlight

It remains to be seen if the GPP will be examined by the Federal Trade Commision. (Source: ThinkComputers)
It remains to be seen if the GPP will be examined by the Federal Trade Commision. (Source: ThinkComputers)
A report created by Kyle Bennett of HardOCP will likely not go down well with executives at Nvidia. Bennett’s article focuses on the GPU-maker’s GeForce Partner Program (GPP), which has been introduced to “better serve gamers.” Concerns have been raised over the alleged requirement of partners having their “gaming brand aligned exclusively with GeForce.” Some commentators have suggested this could be considered an anti-consumer practice.

It seems like a controversy storm is brewing over the graphics-card world yet again. There is already the issue of graphics cards being snapped up by cryptocurrency miners causing GPU shortages. Now, Nvidia has come under the spotlight because of its GeForce Partner Program (GPP). A blog post at the company’s website stated this about the GPP:

The GeForce Partner Program is designed to ensure that gamers have full transparency into the GPU platform and software they’re being sold, and can confidently select products that carry the NVIDIA GeForce promise.

It continues:

This transparency is only possible when NVIDIA brands and partner brands are consistent. So the new program means that we’ll be promoting our GPP partner brands across the web, on social media, at events and more. And GPP partners will get early access to our latest innovations, and work closely with our engineering team to bring the newest technologies to gamers.

Then the post makes this important comment:

The program isn’t exclusive. Partners continue to have the ability to sell and promote products from anyone. Partners choose to sign up for the program, and they can stop participating any time. There’s no commitment to make any monetary payments or product discounts for being part of the program.

However, Kyle Bennett of HardOCP has pointed out the contrast between that last statement and documents he claims to have read that say an OEM should have its “gaming brand aligned exclusively with GeForce” to be part of the program. It is important to mention here that Bennett was pointed in the general direction of this story by AMD, but it was his investigative work that dug up this alleged issue.

The implication of the requirement mentioned above is that OEMs would be tied to Nvidia products if they sign up to the GPP. Bennett uses the hypothetical example of Asus and the ROG-branded laptops. If Asus was in the GPP the company would not be allowed to use GPUs from other suppliers in its products. Naturally, if the allegation turns out to be factual, then companies like AMD and Intel will be the first to complain.

After speaking with anonymous sources about the GPP, Bennett draws up these conclusions from the comments he received:

1.) They think that it has terms that are likely illegal. 2.) GPP is likely going to tremendously hurt consumers' choices. 3.) It will disrupt business with the companies that they are currently doing business with, namely AMD and Intel.

It will be interesting to see where this story goes in the foreseeable future. Nvidia currently dominates the discrete GPU market, enjoying 70.5% market share in 2017.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 03 > Nvidia's GeForce Partner Program goes under the spotlight
Daniel R Deakin, 2018-03-12 (Update: 2018-04-20)