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The FTC has banned Intel from paying off OEMs to exclusively carry its products or to NOT carry AMD products.  (Source: The New York Times)
Settlement also establishes $10M USD fund that could help OEMs switch to AMD or NVIDIA

Intel, like Microsoft, built a seemingly ironclad lead through a combination of great products and aggressive business maneuvering.  Those maneuvers could be viewed as clever moves or destructive anticompetitive behavior -- it all depends on who you ask.  However, in recent years Intel, like Microsoft, has come under increasing pressure to stop its more "creative" business tactics.  Fined $1.45B USD by the European Union last year, Intel has just arrived at a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over numerous antitrust issues.

While the settlement is less painful fiscally than the EU ruling, it will have a major impact on the way Intel conducts its business.  Intel is no longer allowed to pay off (either directly, or through unit discounts) OEMs to exclusively carry Intel CPUs or to not carry competitor Advanced Micro Devices' CPUs.  Likewise, it can no longer retaliate against OEMs who opt to offer competitive products.

Intel is also banned from specifically redesigning its chips to harm its competitors.  Specifically it will be forced to not limit the performance of rivals' GPU chips for at least the next six years.  Also, it must publish clearly that its compiler discriminates against non-Intel processors (such as AMD's designs), not fully utilizing their features and producing inferior code.

The settlement concludes a suit launched by the FTC in December following an investigation.  While it brings no major fines against Intel, it does require Intel to pay $10M USD to establish a fund to help business customers retool their software if they were misled by Intel to think the poor performance of Intel-compiled code on AMD chips was normal. 

Intel’s general counsel, A. Douglas Melamed comments, "[This settlement will] put an end to the expense and distraction of the FTC litigation.  This agreement provides a framework that will allow us to continue to compete and to provide our customers the best possible products at the best prices."

The settlement removes a critical piece of the remaining U.S. litigation on Intel's plate.  Previously, Intel had agreed to a $1.25B USD payout to settle a civil case with AMD last November.  The only major remaining legal action against it now is a lawsuit from the state of New York, alleging illegal anticompetitive behavior.

While the antitrust litigation of the turn of the millenia did not derail Microsoft or significantly alter its PC operating system market share, the latest round -- this time against Intel -- could have a more serious impact.  Unlike Microsoft, Intel has a very aggressive rival in its core business -- AMD.  Last year AMD's CPU shipments grew 17.7 percent on a year-to-year basis, giving it a 19.4 percent market share.  Intel, meanwhile, saw its lead shrink, posting an 80.5 percent market share.

From 2003 to 2006 AMD produced CPUs that were widely considered to outperform similarly priced Intel designs.  While other issues also hampered AMD, it alleges that it largely failed to gain market share during this era thanks to Intel's questionable business practices -- and legal settlements seem to back up this claim.

AMD seems revitalized once more, having taken the discrete graphics sales crown from NVIDIA, thanks to its head start with DirectX 11 GPUs.  If it can duplicate this success on the CPU market, this time it may finally be able to see its hard work pay off with increased OEM adoption -- now that Intel can no longer pay off OEMs not to use its products.  The ball is in AMD's court, as they say.


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Interesting decision...
By MrBlastman on 8/4/2010 1:56:50 PM , Rating: 5
A very small fine, might I add, it isn't even a slap on the wrist--more like, go sit in the corner for a second or two.

The anticompetitive measures though... While they sound nice, enforcing them will be the burden of Intel's competitors to prove to the courts a violation has occured, I would imagine. If one does occur after the ruling, I'm sure the justice system will not be as lenient the next time they are in front of the judge.

I'm surprised at the small fine, very surprised.




RE: Interesting decision...
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/4/2010 2:04:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The anticompetitive measures though... While they sound nice, enforcing them will be the burden of Intel's competitors to prove to the courts a violation has occured, I would imagine. If one does occur after the ruling, I'm sure the justice system will not be as lenient the next time they are in front of the judge.

I'm surprised at the small fine, very surprised.


Well Intel and AMD did already settle privately for $1.25B USD, so its not like Intel hasn't already paid a BIG fine, in effect. It's good to see the gov't let companies work out their problems for once and show a degree of restraint.

On the other hand the gov't appears to be taking a responsible approach to preserving competition here, disallowing blatant moves that limit competition -- essentially bribes or sabotage.

AMD better take advantage of the level playing field it's been handed, though.


RE: Interesting decision...
By MrBlastman on 8/4/2010 2:21:22 PM , Rating: 4
I've always had a problem with Intel paying off its distributors in "creative" ways to maintain exclusivity for only their line of products. This truly goes against the spirit of capitalism so I think the ruling is quite just in this respect. Beat the competition with a superior product and marketing and you don't need to arm-twist the people selling your goods.

At least, this is how it should be. AMD really dropped the ball back between 2003 and 2006 by not taking complete advantage of their performance lead. They had excellent processors in that timeframe. I was 100% AMD between 1997 and 2008 (though the K6-2's FPU _was_ a turd); when my X2 4400's motherboard died and the Core 2 duo's were beating the pants off AMD, I gave in and went the Intel route again. I suppose two dud AMD motherboards (okay, I really blame it on VIA) over that period of time had taken its toll.

I want them to come back oh so bad though, I really do. I would _love_ to see AMD take the performance crown again. They have their work cut out though, as Intel has been double-barreling their R&D after the early 2000's debacle, it only makes their job harder.

This time around, if AMD does succeed in getting the edge back, it could be a more level playing field on the OEM->Retailer channel, where, as we all know, the majority of the sales occur(to both the end-user and businesses).


RE: Interesting decision...
By Pirks on 8/4/2010 3:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not concerned about AMD, but nVidia is in a pretty bad shape and this "resolution" did nothing to allow nVidia to produce chipsets for newest Intel CPUs. Hence it's not a resolution at all, Intel will suffocate nVidia further because US Government just doesn't care. So sad :(


RE: Interesting decision...
By AntDX316 on 8/4/10, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting decision...
By AntDX316 on 8/4/2010 11:17:39 PM , Rating: 2
Though this can be actually good for the video card industry because ATI would have more money to make better video cards. Nvidia's flagship video card was released months after ATI's flagship and ATI's flagship still reigned supreme by a significant performance difference in real world apps. The more money they have to invest in their superior technology the good it is for the gaming world.

Intel already has a fast processor named the i7. It's i7 920 is as fast as 2 980X's clock for clock in games. In some games the 2 980X's showed slower frame rate in the same system configuration. Though overclocking with new i7 steppings with the same voltage turns out more mhz. A couple hundred more mhz for the i7 than couple more hundred mhz with a newer ATI video card in gaming is a huge difference. Say you overclock 200 more mhz on the i7 you get around 10 more FPS. You overclock 200mhz more on the ATI card you get 100 more FPS.

Kind of a good balance for product improvement funding. :)


By NullSubroutine on 8/4/2010 3:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
The sad thing about the 1.25billion was that Intel made far more than that WITH its anti-competitive business practices.


RE: Interesting decision...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/4/10, Rating: -1
RE: Interesting decision...
By sviola on 8/4/2010 5:48:51 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Intel did nothing wrong.Seriously, the agreement between Dell and Intel happens all the time in the business world.


Really? I read that they did only give the discounts if Dell would not carry AMD processors at all.

quote:
Who's business is it if one company gives incentives and payments to another anyway? Why should one company be concerned about how "fair" it's being to it's competition?
.

Well, that is the role of the government. If they don't keep company in checks, things like the Netscape case happens. If Intel eliminated AMD from the market, they would have no need to improve their products and would be able to price their products at any price and consumers (businesses and home users) wouldn't have any option but to buy them. The entire society looses.

(We'd probably still be using Prescotts until now)


RE: Interesting decision...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/4/10, Rating: -1
RE: Interesting decision...
By Schrag4 on 8/5/2010 9:59:01 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Intel is no longer allowed to pay off (either directly, or through unit discounts) OEMs to exclusively carry Intel CPUs or to not carry competitor Advanced Micro Devices' CPUs.


quote:
PC makers had full discretion about how to use the discounts. There was no strings attached to hurt or muscle out AMD.


Really? Well, then, the ruling won't change anything so Intel should have no reason to complain (except now they're out another $10MM, chump change).


RE: Interesting decision...
By dark matter on 8/8/2010 8:32:10 AM , Rating: 2
That is your opinion, and you're entitled to it.

However my opinion, that of the courts and the wider tech community think you're wrong.


RE: Interesting decision...
By INeedCache on 8/5/2010 4:23:05 PM , Rating: 1
The problem is, once you get to be a certain size, you have the money and resources to do things like Intel did. Hypocritical of Washington to get involved? If Intel kept this up and forced AMD under, resulting in much higher CPU prices, you would likely be one of the first to yell "Where was the governmnent? How could they let this happen?" Corruption rampant in the government? Sure. But it obviously is in the CPU industry, as well, with Intel leading the way. Wake up.


RE: Interesting decision...
By stimudent on 8/4/2010 5:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
To get Intel not to commit ethics violations as part of its regular business routine.. will be something like tying and alcoholic to a chair and putting a bottle of bourbon on a table in front of him.


RE: Interesting decision...
By hyvonen on 8/5/2010 11:42:30 PM , Rating: 2
Is AMD required to follow similar guidelines? I mean, it seems like the pendulum would swing a bit too much in the other direction if Intel is forced to provide small-form-factor systems with PCIe to benefit NVidia, and AMD is not...


RE: Interesting decision...
By Shadowmaster625 on 8/4/2010 2:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
It is a small fine, but targetted in a good location. If that $10 million results in many pieces of software being recompiled to run better on AMD processors, then it is a HUGE victory for AMD. For AMD, this could be equivalent to a 200 MHz clock speed bump across the board.


RE: Interesting decision...
By bfellow on 8/5/2010 3:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
The OEMs were already paid off so the $10 million would be in effect a double payment!


Compilers
By rcc on 8/4/2010 2:28:54 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Also, it must publish clearly that its compiler discriminates against non-Intel processors (such as AMD's designs), not fully utilizing their features and producing inferior code.


Put a note on the box. If you are compiling for an AMD product, please use an AMD compiler.




RE: Compilers
By fic2 on 8/4/2010 2:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
I thought this was stupid. Why not just prohibit the Intel compiler from checking to see what processor code was running on?


RE: Compilers
By Ammohunt on 8/4/2010 3:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
Becasue it would lead to unpredictable results if a non-intel cpu is used?


RE: Compilers
By dubyadubya on 8/4/2010 5:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
That is true it could happen, just to many variables. What was really said was Intels compiler output special code for non Intel hardware that was slower and less stable than code not run though Intel's compiler. This may be true to this day but lets hope not. Back in the day I used a hack to make software and windows 95 see my Cyrix P166+ as an Intel CPU. The performance improvement was 20-30% when running Intel compiled code.

On a side note AMD's K6, K6 II and K6 III was actually capable of better floating point performance than Intel CPU's at the time. We just never got to seen how good they were because no consumer level programs were ever optimized for them. Its too bad AMD never had their own compiler. Do mainly do to cost I would guess? Bottom line when the AMD K8 came out it beat Intel P4 with pure hardware horsepower not optimized software. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me.


RE: Compilers
By Ammohunt on 8/4/2010 7:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
In the meantime there is always gcc which does a pretty damn good job compiling for whatever architecture with the right flags. AMD would be smart to offer their own open source compiler or help with gcc optimizations for AMD cpu's


RE: Compilers
By rcc on 8/4/2010 5:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
Because it would need to know what processor features it could use?

SSE/2/etc.


RE: Compilers
By fic2 on 8/4/2010 5:52:43 PM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure there are query bits for features.


RE: Compilers
By Fritzr on 8/8/2010 10:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
The Intel compiler very likely has such a checklist.

If Intel product
then enable optimization code for all available extensions
else
-if 32 bit code
-then emit i386 generic code
-else emit x64 generic code
-endif
endif

This simplifies the compiler as there are no optimization routines for instruction sets not used by Intel processors.

This kind of thing has been happening for a long time. 8080 code was compatible with the entire 808x line and the Z80. 8086 and Z80 had incompatible extensions.

You could compile for all 808x compatibles, specific members of the 808x family & Z80 or by targeting 8080 you could generate run on everything code for the 808x family


RE: Compilers
By aegisofrime on 8/4/2010 8:09:46 PM , Rating: 2
The last time I checked, there wasn't an AMD compiler.

If there is please let me know because I really want to compile x264 for my Phenom II. :)


RE: Compilers
By rcc on 8/10/2010 1:37:43 PM , Rating: 2
Talk to AMD??


Pure BS.
By Motoman on 8/4/2010 3:06:09 PM , Rating: 3
Intel should have been bent over the barrel for it's long history of illegal practices.

What an insult. Eff you Intel, and eff you to whoever decided this was an appropriate "resolution."




RE: Pure BS.
By bfellow on 8/5/2010 3:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
AMD thought it was an appropriate resolution.


RE: Pure BS.
By Taft12 on 8/5/2010 8:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
Irrelevant, this was between the FTC and Intel

Nvidia sure as hell doesn't think this is an appropriate resolution.


RE: Pure BS.
By Motoman on 8/5/2010 10:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt it.


10 million is a joke
By Shig on 8/4/2010 2:01:01 PM , Rating: 1
A pure joke to intel who still makes gigantic profits after taking fines over a billion.

Oh and yeah, nice regulation the US has, only took them 10 years to get Intel to play by the rules they should be playing by to begin with.

And they still can't make a half way decent GPU-esque architecture.




RE: 10 million is a joke
By LordSojar on 8/4/2010 2:26:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
A pure joke to intel who still makes gigantic profits after taking fines over a billion. Oh and yeah, nice regulation the US has, only took them 10 years to get Intel to play by the rules they should be playing by to begin with. And they still can't make a half way decent GPU-esque architecture.


Uh... the lack of large fines was the point... it was also because AMD didn't testify against Intel in the proceedings. Why? AMD agreed not to present further evidence to the FTC as part of the 1.25B settlement with Intel.

The FTC's goal wasn't to fine Intel outrageous amounts of money (unlike the EU who loves to suck the money out of American companies...), it was to put things on the right course and to prevent this from happening again.

As for the time line; yes, the legal proceedings of this have taken a long time, but it was worth the wait for AMD (nVidia will get some benefit out of this, though not nearly to the degree of AMD's benefits).

As to the Intel not making a good GPU bit; the H55/57 solution with the Corei5/i3 IGPs is actually very viable for everyday use, and accelerates 1080p playback very well.

Intel is in this to make money, and what better way to do so than to cling to the cash cow that is the antiquated x86 architecture. And before anyone says that they now use 64bit... I have news for you, that's still x86. It's x86-64, which is a 64bit extension series for the primary x86 architecture, which AMD "invented". Neither Intel nor AMD actually use a new 64bit architecture. Backwards compatibility, thou art a cruel bitch.


RE: 10 million is a joke
By NullSubroutine on 8/4/2010 3:54:59 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree that the new rules are far more beneficial than the government taking money away in a fine, the only question becomes enforcement.


RE: 10 million is a joke
By Reclaimer77 on 8/4/2010 5:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A pure joke to intel who still makes gigantic profits after taking fines over a billion.


Why shouldn't Intel "still" be making "gigantic" profits? Come on, stop being a fanboi.


RE: 10 million is a joke
By YashBudini on 8/4/2010 7:37:50 PM , Rating: 1
Are you applying the same philosophy to OPEC?


Good old USA
By TexMurphy on 8/4/2010 3:27:25 PM , Rating: 4
I have been following this one on and off. When the EU fined Intel, it was these 'typical European protectionists' and money grabbing and such. When it's the USA doing it, well now all of a sudden that's a rather responsible action.




RE: Good old USA
By nafhan on 8/4/2010 3:46:14 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe, just maybe, there is more to this than Americans getting riled up about the EU being unfair to an American company. Specifically about the money grabbing thing, maybe people aren't complaining about that because the FTC ruling is mostly requiring business practice changes rather than grabbing a bunch of money...
Also, the attitudes at the time of the EU-Intel thing were probably influenced by other high profile, high dollar amount anti-competitiveness lawsuits that the EU was prosecuting then.


RE: Good old USA
By stromgald30 on 8/9/2010 1:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
At least the USA is trying to do something about Intel's practices rather than going the brute force approach and fining them heavily.

The EU ruling looked more like the EU just trying to get $$, whereas this ruling at least looks like an attempt to make the market more balanced.


Finally
By corduroygt on 8/4/2010 5:02:34 PM , Rating: 2
I hope we see new nvidia MCP's for arrandale and others...




RE: Finally
By PandaBear on 8/4/2010 6:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, this settlement is a slap on the face of justice. I'm afraid that nVidia will die because Intel is now forcing the whole chipset market to go away and not granting nvidia to use the licence for chipset or an x86 CPU.


RE: Finally
By Taft12 on 8/5/2010 8:43:19 PM , Rating: 3
You haven't read the courts orders. They ARE NOT required to license 3rd parties to make chipsets. Intel chipsets only from now until eternity. Enjoy.


Is it just me...
By Cappadocious on 8/4/2010 5:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Intel is no longer allowed to pay off (either directly, or through unit discounts) OEMs to exclusively carry Intel CPUs or to not carry competitor Advanced Micro Devices' CPUs. Likewise, it can no longer retaliate against OEMs who opt to offer competitive products. Intel is also banned from specifically redesigning its chips to harm its competitors.


Or is Intel just being told that that can't do what they weren't supposed to be doing in the first place ?




RE: Is it just me...
By AssBall on 8/4/2010 6:45:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just you.

Saying Intel is now banned from anticompetitive behavior is like saying David Koresh should have been banned from leading an anarchist cult.

Both are already illegal, and they already happened, so banning them again is nonsensical.

Retarded headlines and quotes are what you come to expect from Mick's articles, though.


RE: Is it just me...
By Jakall78 on 8/5/2010 9:56:37 AM , Rating: 2
It`s just pointless really...
Wasn`t Intel already supposed to act competitively(farely) to its competitors?
It`s like saying "you`re not allowed to threaten anyone at gunpoint, or face jail" - only not suffering any consequence.
The E.U. fined Intel so much money not because Intel hurt AMD, people seem to misunderstand this, they fined them because INTEL HURT THE CONSUMERS, by not allowing them to make the choice.
This agreement is a pure joke in my view.


Doesn't do a whole lot
By nafhan on 8/4/2010 2:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Intel is also banned from specifically redesigning its chips to harm its competitors. Specifically it be forced to not limit the performance of rivals' GPU chips for at least the next six years.
I'd say the damage has already been done here (especially where Nvidia is concerned). So, this barely even matters.




RE: Doesn't do a whole lot
By AstroCreep on 8/4/2010 3:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
I read that in the article above, but I do not remember this controversy. Can someone share a little background with me? I'm not flaming here, I honestly am ignorant of this argument.

I am, however, aware of the issues Intel raised when introducing Nehalem, saying that the x86 license NVIDIA had didn't extend them rights to the Nehalem architecture due to the different way the memory is managed, which screwed-over NVIDIA's ability to create their own motherboard chipsets.


Still no NVidia Chipsets
By phatboye on 8/4/2010 4:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
The one thing that I was looking forward to from a possible settlement, Intel to re-establish a license agreement with NVidia to resume producing chipsets for Intel's desktop and Server CPU's, didn't come to reality. I really liked NVidia chipsets (esp the early ones that included soundstorm) despite NV's occasional screw-ups and their poor reputation. The outcome of this settlement really makes me sad =(.




How does this help AMD?
By bupkus on 8/4/2010 4:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, it must publish clearly that its compiler discriminates against non-Intel processors (such as AMD's designs), not fully utilizing their features and producing inferior code.
If I were shopping for a high performance pc for work and I heard this about Intel's compiler I'd wonder if the software I needed was compiled with Intel's compiler and if I should take the risk it was by buying AMD.




I'm sorry
By TSS on 8/4/2010 7:08:34 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
FTC, Intel Reach Settlement; Intel Banned From Anticompetitive Practices


I haven't read the article yet,i will in a minute, but my first thought was "and other companies aren't?".

Had to be a Mick story :p I'll go read it now.




"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer














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