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The FTC announced Friday that it will formally examine whether Intel abused its dominant position

Somewhere at the headquarters of AMD, there must have been a cheer that went up on Friday.  After months of losing ground to Intel, employee layoffs, and under the shadow of Intel's looming Nehalem architecture, the company finally had some good news to be happy about.

It’s no small mystery that AMD these days simply seems incapable of outcompeting Intel.  Intel argues that this is due to its superior products.  AMD, however, has long maintained that Intel was deploying anticompetitive processes, which it says are digging it into a hole from which it cannot escape.  However, despite a passionate ad campaign and lengthy discussions with antitrust officials in the U.S., AMD has seemingly had a tough time selling its idea that Intel was cheating in the microprocessor war.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which supervises free trade in the U.S., announced that it was launching a formal antitrust investigation against Intel.  The stakes are high for both Intel and AMD; the total market for microprocessors racked up $225 billion in sales last year. 

Both Intel and AMD realize what’s at stake and have spent tens of millions in legal expenses and on public relations campaigns.  AMD had previous success in Europe, Korea, and Japan -- all of which have investigated Intel or threatened it with possible fines.  However, the biggest victory -- a U.S. antitrust investigation -- seemed out of reach until this week.

State authorities and federal appointees from the Bush administration have been taking a more lenient approach to antitrust that their European counterparts.  However, the major decision Friday marked a sharp new shift in policy. 

The new investigation originated with the new blood -- William E. Kovacic, the new chairman of the trade commission.  With the backing of his fellow commissioners, he reversed the decision of Deborah P. Majoras, the previous chair, who had been blocking the investigation for months to the frustration of those on Capitol Hill.  Majoras was a more lenient appointee, and helped work out the antitrust settlement in 2001 with Microsoft.

It will take months before formal charges against Intel might be made, so the upcoming administration’s stance will greatly factor into the case.  AMD is relying on the federal case as only one state -- New York, at the behest of attorney general Andrew M. Cuomo -- has agreed to investigate Intel on a state level.  California attorney general Jerry Brown denied AMD's pleas, derisively commenting that he was "not barking at every truck that comes down the street."

D. Bruce Sewell, Intel’s senior vice president and general counsel, says that the U.S. antitrust laws are different than European ones, and it will not be charged.  Intel is planning on racking up its Capitol Hill efforts, though, likely in the form of lobbyist dollars.

The first signs of the upcoming bad news for Intel appeared when chip manufacturers began to get subpoenaed by the FTC.  The FTC is working with Europe and other foreign governments to obtain evidence to use against Intel in a possible case.  Mr. Sewell said that he was working amiably with the FTC on a less formal review since 2006 and that Intel would remain cooperative.

AMD's top executives expressed their pleasure over the Commission's decision.  Tom McCoy, executive vice president for legal affairs at AMD, stated, "Intel must now answer to the Federal Trade Commission, which is the appropriate way to determine the impact of Intel practices on U.S. consumers and technology businesses.  In every country around the world where Intel’s business practices have been investigated, including the decision by South Korea this week, antitrust regulators have taken action."

The largest U.S. antitrust investigation since the Microsoft one of the 90s came the same week as more good news for AMD; Korean officials slammed Intel with a $25 million fine for violating its fair trade laws.  The Korean officials discovered that Intel illegally paid Samsung Electronics and the Trigem Company $37 million in payments between 2002 and 2005 to not buy AMD processors.  The European Union's European Commission (EC), which charged Intel with "the aim of excluding its main rival from the market" is expected to expand its charges this year.

Intel currently owns somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of the worldwide microprocessor market.  Many U.S. citizens do not realize that U.S. laws do allow monopolies, unlike elsewhere, but forbid companies with a monopoly from using its dominance to restrict competition.

With mounting evidence worldwide, Intel faces a tough case before the FTC.  However, it will likely do what it takes, or perhaps more aptly write the lobbyist checks needed to prevent it from becoming the next Microsoft.  Meanwhile, AMD will also likely step up its efforts in hopes that it can stop its downhill slide by a court victory over Intel.

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it's becoming ridiculous
By pjtomtai on 6/8/2008 1:51:25 AM , Rating: -1
As a consumer, I don't think I've ever been hurt by Intel, in fact all my previous Intel products had a faily good price/performance even in P4 era, Northwood was the top performer at that time. The price of Intel's recent products have been even better - E6300 & Q6600 ...

If that's what so called "monopoly" brought to me, so be it. Seems to me, all those law suits or investigations are AMD's baby crying, and governments're becoming its dogs bark around. Intel simply has better products, scale of economy, smarter management, and of course deep pocket which I guess governments are after.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By kyleb2112 on 6/8/2008 2:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
You haven't been hurt because Intel wasn't a monopoly. The hurting starts when they've got no competitors and you have no other choice.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By dragonbif on 6/9/2008 4:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
If you have been keeping up on this you would find the biggest problem is in the OEM market. AMD did not really get into the OEM's such as Dell or HP until 2006. Before that it was all Intel, and Dell even sued Intel because they were keeping them from using other CPUs such as AMD. From the allegations you find that Intel was using incentives to OEMs to only use their possessors such as big discounts, free mobos and who knows what else. That would make them a monopoly because they are keeping other manufactures from selling their product (even though at one point AMD was better).
Here is the big point; if AMD could not sell CPUs because Intel was blocking them then AMD could not make the money it needed to for research and development. That is how you slowly kill any potential competition, keep them from the money and let them age and die.

By SiliconAddict on 6/8/2008 2:17:05 AM , Rating: 5
Actually the P4 is a perfect example of being hurt by Intel. Just because the consumer was so ignorant of what was going on with Intel, and the MHZ race, doesn't mean that they weren't being fed horseshit. And at the end of the day while a CPU will still run any OS or program the fact that in some cases Intel's latest P4's were being bitchslapped by older processors suggests that there WAS something wrong.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By SlyNine on 6/8/2008 2:44:56 AM , Rating: 4
Actully it wasnt untill Northwood B came out and then it was only by a little bit, Then Northwood C came out and rocked, but shortly later Clawhammer came out and cleaned clock.

So you have the whole 1ghz-2ghz race being DOMINATED by AMD, from the thunderbird core to around the 2500 Barton, and then AMD took over agian with Clawhammer.

See the thing you dont relieze is that we do not know what AMD would have out now if they had the money to do the R&D that Intel had. Money that it doesnt have BECAUSE of Intels anti competitive ways.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By xsilver on 6/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By Adonlude on 6/9/2008 12:50:16 PM , Rating: 2
Preech on brother! I know that showing support for Intel here is asking for an instant -1 rating but I just think it is wrong to punish the big guy just because he is richer, bigger, and better in every way.

This is typical government/socialist thinking: cripple the strong to support the weak, such is not the way of nature. Maybe we should venture out into the jungle, find all the lions, and break one of their legs so the prey can have a chance.

AMD should change their slogan to "AMD, The People's Processor Company" because that is the mantra they promote and it is what keeps their company alive in the court room but not in the retail outlet. AMD was born in the court room. They came into this world by suing Intel, now they will stay alive the same way.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By pjtomtai on 6/8/08, Rating: 0
RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By SlyNine on 6/8/2008 5:26:05 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry man but Thunderbird was the basic design of the Althon XP's, And they TRUMPED your P4's right up tell Northwood, And Northwood A core did not beat the the Althon XP's it simply matched performence. Barton was such a great deal because the 2500XP like many of todays intels can be clocked much higher.

I remember the first day I got the 2500XP I had it running on stock cooling at 3200speeds. Then when I put the Volcano 11 HSF on it the horrable sound of the crunch, that was the exposed Athlon XP cores.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By AnnihilatorX on 6/8/2008 7:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
Thunderbird was a direct competitor to P4 Willamette, the first P4 that came out with performance inferior to P3, moe expensive due to RD RAM, and was hotter than even Thunderbird.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By just4U on 6/8/2008 4:04:31 AM , Rating: 2
Seems to me, all those law suits or investigations are AMD's baby crying

Amd would most likely be in a very different position right now if Intel had played fair. Most (I think) agree that Intel employed some really underhanded tactics to keep doors closed for AMD. Can't do that sort of thing and expect to get away with it..

I see it like this. AMD has always been somewhere down in a deep well trying to climb out into the light of day. Kinda hard to do that when Intel is at the top cutting the rope.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By Belard on 6/8/2008 6:59:51 AM , Rating: 5
all my previous Intel products had a faily good price/performance even in P4 era, Northwood was the top performer at that time

Actually, you HAVE been hurt by intel and helped by AMD. Before AMD became competitive with Intel with the start of the K7 & Thunderbird CPUs (Problem was more chipsets then CPU) - High End Intel CPUs were typically $700~1000. A good example is the PentiumII 400Mhz, which was a $900CPU. My P3-866Mhz CPU was about $600 - and was my LAST Intel chip. Just before Core2Duo came out, AMD was grabbing market share quite a bit. The P4 was always being bitch-slapped by the AMD64 and the XP line as well. So without AMD, today's top end CPU would be a 3Ghz P4 at $1000.

The first P4s were slower than the P3... but hey, you got the 1.4Ghz CPU!

If you could locate OLDER CPU charts - You would find for general and gaming that even intel's EXTREME Edition ($1000) CPU was on part with AMD's $250~300 CPU... 2-3 years ago. The ONLY place that the P4 was faster was in Rendering video... you know like DIVX files. That's it.

So when Core2Duo came out, it was cheaper than AMD and finally faster... Core2Duo is based off of the Centrino chips used in notebooks. Its closer in design of an AMD chip than the P4.

Anyways - during the 3+ years that AMD had the faster chip, Intel used their muscle to keep AMD out of Dell. (Dell is being sued by their own stock holders for doing this deal)

So imagine, what AMD could do if they were selling MORE CPUs, making more profit? They'd have a higher R&D budget to remain competitive. But here is the BS as well... While Core2 is faster than AMD in general - Some AMD's are faster than Core2 at some price points. Unlike the P4 which was WAY WAY slower than AMD64s.

Intel has their own share of screw ups. The thing is, they are SO big - they were able to sell their HOT & crappy P4 chips to their customers... an inferiour product outsold a better one. it was Funny to see these kids post "I have a 3.6Ghz Pentium EE CHip" - Yeah, so what? I spend 1/3 the amount of money and still faster than you.

So... to build that TOP end Intel Quad core that smokes AMD - its about $3500... compared to a $1200 AMD Quad core. With simular motherboard and parts (PCIe 2.0, etc) A low/mid-range QuadCore Intel is about $300~700 more. (I'm not being specific on a parts list - just based on a quote I gave someone to choose from Newegg) IE: The cost to build an Intel Quad core that is 10seconds faster to render a 3D frame or 10-15fps faster in a game that is already 100fps is not worth it to many people in value... The money saved could buy a new 24" monitor. ;) Today's QuadCore AMD that renders a 3D frame in about 40secs is a lot faster than a 2-3year old AMD 3200 or P4 taking 300~400seconds.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By pjtomtai on 6/8/2008 8:57:46 AM , Rating: 2
"$3500 Intel Quad vs. $1200 AMD"? you gonna be kidding. Where do you live? A complete Q6600 build costs under $1000, and smashs any AMD "true" quad. Pls be honest.

I don't pro any side, and believe me I know whether I've been hurt by any company, Intel or AMD. I said it again, the only good product AMD ever offered was K8. I enjoyed my X2 3800 for a while, although the enjoyment faded quickly, and at an expensive price, until I got my e6400. Now I'm at Q66 and looking forward to Nehalem. BTW, I was truly terrified by the price AMD charged for FX60, although I didn't go up to that, my fondness of AMD at K8 era was gone completely.

I truly believe if the position of Intel and AMD was reversed, if AMD was the big guy, I would have been "hurt" much more. So far, Intel's treated me good, well, for most of the time (Pentium 66 and P4E were bad).

Anyway take care.
~from 486DX2 to Q6600~

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By DragonFire on 6/8/2008 3:46:57 PM , Rating: 2
And this is where your argument falls apart.

Improvements in manufacturing technology and processes of the CPU have lead to Intel's better pricing. Not competition.

You are an idiot if you think that. Because Apple refused to let outside companies build parts for there macs back in the 80-90's, the mac never took off compared to the PC. If Intel had no competition, they could sell that new Q6600 you got for $1200 and get it away it, if Intel had no one around like AMD to keep them on there toes we would be on 486's still playing Doom because Intel would say "they don't need faster"

Just like they(Intel) said we didn't need 64-bit, well guess what, I was hopping to have flying cars by now, I don't want to be told I can't have one because they don't think I need one.....

I truly believe if the position of Intel and AMD was reversed, if AMD was the big guy, I would have been "hurt" much more. So far, Intel's treated me good, well, for most of the time (Pentium 66 and P4E were bad).

I truly believe that if the positions were reversed, Intel would not be in the same mess as AMD because AMD would not have done the same "type" of backstabbing. Also, AMD would have had something better out then even the Q6600 is now if the positions were reversed.

Intel improved there SSE because AMD came out with 3DNow, I realize 3DNow is based on SSE, however it showed Intel that if they didn't improve another company was going to pass them up. Intel went to 64-bit only because AMD, Intel doesn't think we need it? Who the hell are they to decided what this world needs. As I said I was hopping for flying cars by now. AMD puts the memory controller on die, oh gee look what intel is doing now.

Sorry but powerful companies like Intel hold us back in my mind and we need companies like AMD around to at the least make a big noise causing said powerful companies to be knocked down a bit from time to time.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By Belard on 6/8/2008 4:12:36 PM , Rating: 1
No... .I said a TOP end Intel Quad system vs a Top end AMD is about $3500 vs $1200 for very much the same parts. (IE: HDs 2x 1TB drives, gigabyte board with PCIe 2.0, 4GB of RAM)

AMD 780G board = $100~135 ($135 = 790 chipset)
Intel X48 board = $260~350
4GB DDR3 = $300 (intel top end)
4GB DDR2 = $100

AMD Quad (unlocked) = $235
Intel Q Extreme = $1500+

The Popular Q6600 on par with AMD's top end, still costs a bit more when you factor in the motherboard and cost of chip.

No competition = we lose. Doesn't matter if its AMD, Intel, Nvidia or Microsoft. Because MS owns about 90% of the desktop business, they rip people off charging $220 for the Vista Home Prem (retail) - sure you can buy the Upgrade for $125, but if anything is messed up on your current XP or you have to do a fresh re-install, its a pain in the butt. Apple charges $120 for their OS, and its 1 version. Not basic, premo, business, Ultimate - not OEM, Upgrade, Retail... just 1 box, simple. You can upgrade or do a clean install with it. Or what if you want to upgrade 3 XP computers home PCs to Vista... Ouch, that's $370~400 Apple charges $170 for a 5 user Home licence. (We won't touch Linux on this one).

Because Nvidia had no competition - they sold 8800 cards for $400~600. Nowadays, we're getting steals with $150 cards from both AMD & Nvidia with great products. 9 months ago, you'd have to pay $200 for a crappy 8600gts if you couldn't afford the $300 8800GT or $400-500 8800GTs/GTX cards. And in the next month or so - we'll have NEW cards from both camps.

Without AMD Kicking Intel in the balls with better AMD64 CPUs (which are NOT bad chips - they got old, yet they are ACTUALLY quite good by todays standards compared to lower end Core2s and any P4 tech CPU) - there would be NO CORE 2 CPUs.

You are NOT feeling the pain of Intel because AMD has been around doing good things.

You're welcome.

PS: I've look at intel for my next box. I'll save about $250 going with AMD setup that is just as fast. But my X2 3800 is still running quite good, not as instant as the new PCs I build. But my notebook will have an Intel Core2 CPU because that is all Lenovo offers.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By DeepBlue1975 on 6/8/2008 9:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not a fair comparison at all.

If you compare what a Bugatti Veyron costs (top end performance car by Bugatti) vs what the fastest performance car ford can offer you costs, its a lot of difference, but it is in performance as well.

Pit the phenom against a q6600 that performs a bit better than amd's best (and overclocks even better), use ddr2 instead of ddr3, because AMD does not support it yet and adds almost nothing in performance, and the difference is not that high.

RE: it's becoming ridiculous
By FaceMaster on 6/12/2008 8:15:38 AM , Rating: 2
High end prostitute - £150 a night
Your Mum - Free.

I know which one I'll be choosing!

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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