Intel’s Legal Woes: Justice or Witch Hunt?



intelvsamd Intels Legal Woes: Justice or Witch Hunt?



It was announced mid last week that Microprocessor giant Intel was being sued by New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for violating United States antitrust laws. Intel is accused of coercing computer manufacturers such as Dell and HP into purchasing Intel microprocessor chips in exchange for payment. Rather than paying the companies directly, Intel offered to pay for the manufacturer’s consumer rebates, giving these companies a competitive edge and a huge incentive to purchase the Intel x86 microprocessor. Cuomo and the New York State government argue that this violates antitrust laws because it discourages competition in the marketplace. But why is the government ready to spend millions of taxpayers dollars now, especially in the middle of a recession? Could it possibly be because Intel’s main competitor AMD is struggling to stay afloat, grappling for a tiny piece of the market? When is it the right time to prosecute big business and when does it simply disadvantage the consumer?

Let’s discuss why antitrust laws exist and why we care as consumers. Antitrust laws were put in place to protect consumers from monopolistic practices, which often result in astronomical prices and lack of diversity. Without competition, there’s no incentive for a better product, there’s no way to drive costs down, and innovation is lost. To ensure competition, the U.S. government puts antitrust laws into practice to keep costs reasonable for the consumer and to foster innovation. With Intel’s history of innovation and low costs, is going after them really in the consumer’s best interest? AMD is considered Intel’s main competitor in the microprocessor arena, and this is not the first time the companies have gone head to head. In 2005, AMD sued Intel for violating antitrust laws. Most recently AMD was in the news for insider trading and low earnings, causing their stock to drop a dramatic 6% in October, 2009. And then emerges Cuomo’s movement to file suit against Intel. Seemingly AMD’s last ditch effort to extort funds from Intel, this could explain why the government is pursuing Intel now. People are left wondering why the government is going after Intel, when the cost of microprocessors and the computers that house them are lower than ever.

Reminiscent of the Microsoft antitrust case filed in 1998, Microsoft was also sued for violating the laws of competition. The allegation was that when Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with their Windows operating system, they unfairly wiped out competing Internet browsers. Microsoft argued that Internet Explorer was the most compatible with Windows, making it an obvious choice and the best product for Microsoft customers. They also argued that consumers could easily download another Internet browser if they weren’t happy with Internet Explorer. Microsoft didn’t block the use of other browsers, they simply bundled Internet Explorer with their operating system. In the end, Bill Gates stepped down as Microsoft Chairman and the company was found in violation of antitrust laws. Throughout the trial, both Microsoft and other economists defended the company’s actions. In a full-page ad that appeared in both The Washington Post and The New York Times on June 2, 1999, the Independent Institution, a group of well known economists, ran the ad entitled “An Open Letter to President Clinton From 240 Economists On Antitrust Protectionism,” and stated:

“Consumers did not ask for these antitrust actions – rival business firms did. Consumers of high technology have enjoyed falling prices, expanding outputs, and a breathtaking array of new products and innovations…Increasingly, however, some firms have sought to handicap their rivals by turning to government for protection. Many of these cases are based on speculation about some vaguely specified consumer harm in some unspecified future, and many of the proposed interventions will weaken successful U.S. firms and impede their competitiveness abroad.”

One Nobel Peace Prize winner, Milton Friedman, went so far as to say that the Microsoft antitrust case set a dangerous precedent for government interference and that progress in technology is likely to be impeded as a result. Even after all of this, Microsoft was able to bounce back and reinvent themselves into a company that didn’t solely make operating systems, thanks to innovations like the xbox and other ground breaking products. Netscape however died away….so what was the point in the end? Microsoft may have had a set back, but the main losers were the taxpayers whose hard earned money went to a case that benefited no one in the end. Like Microsoft, Intel is facing similar antitrust action prompted by the poor sales of a rival company. Previously forced to pay fines by the European Commission, Intel faces a $1.45 billion dollar fine in Europe, and another law suit for $25 million presented by the South Korean authorities in June 2008. Currently in a dispute with the Japanese government, this newest law suit becomes that much more important to Intel’s survival.

Also comparable to Microsoft, Intel offers what many people deem a superior product, and the fact that they are able to offer it at a cheap price (via rebates) has huge benefits for consumers. If Intel goes down and suffers significant monetary losses, the consumer will be left without rebates and processor prices are likely to rise. So if antitrust laws aim to enhance innovation and keep prices low, then why is the government prosecuting a company that excels in both of these fields? Without Intel, the consumer is the one losing with higher prices and less advanced innovation. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of taxpayer money wasted on a competing company’s last ditch effort to stay afloat. If Intel goes down and AMD were to be the last company standing, there is no guarantee that they will actually step up to the plate and truly become innovators on the same level as Intel. So if Intel does lose, whose to say where the winnings will end up, and if they will be rewarded to AMD, or not just some other bureaucratic blackhole.

Those of us interested in technology, of course welcome additional options and choices for other processors besides just Intel. In the 1990′s and early 2000′s AMD processors were a chipset to be reckoned with, but over the past few years Intel’s flagship Quad Core processors have been down right outperforming AMD. Regardless, we know that many people still love and use AMD processors and they still provide good value and performance.At the end of the day, giving people options is what American capitalism is all about, but not by penalizing a company that has been consistently innovative, inexpensive, and devoted to offering consumers the best product possible. We just wonder if AMD had kept up the pace and had been truly competitive rather than slipping, would this lawsuit even be taking place. The best case scenario is that AMD will come roaring back to become a true competitor to Intel, something that’s good for everyone. Unfortunately there are lots of questions and no clear answers. Many will offer commentary but the final verdict will be when the judge rules, we just hope for all of us consumers it’s truly done with our best interests at heart… but how often does that happen.

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  • Pax

    The rationale behind this article is inane. We’re in a recession, so laws that are in place should stop being prosecuted when broken? Anti-trust laws are anti-consumer? The Microsoft anti-trust example was the best that you could come up with – at a time when they didn’t even have an OS competitor and were leveraging their browser to rewrite the web to their own standards.

    What’s wrong with you? Are you damaged somehow?

  • Pax

    The rationale behind this article is inane. We’re in a recession, so laws that are in place should stop being prosecuted when broken? Anti-trust laws are anti-consumer? The Microsoft anti-trust example was the best that you could come up with – at a time when they didn’t even have an OS competitor and were leveraging their browser to rewrite the web to their own standards.

    What’s wrong with you? Are you damaged somehow?

  • Pax

    The rationale behind this article is inane. We’re in a recession, so laws that are in place should stop being prosecuted when broken? Anti-trust laws are anti-consumer? The Microsoft anti-trust example was the best that you could come up with – at a time when they didn’t even have an OS competitor and were leveraging their browser to rewrite the web to their own standards.

    What’s wrong with you? Are you damaged somehow?

  • Pax

    The rationale behind this article is inane. We’re in a recession, so laws that are in place should stop being prosecuted when broken? Anti-trust laws are anti-consumer? The Microsoft anti-trust example was the best that you could come up with – at a time when they didn’t even have an OS competitor and were leveraging their browser to rewrite the web to their own standards.

    What’s wrong with you? Are you damaged somehow?

  • Thomas

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Innovation and low prices from Intel without competition? Never. Go back to the mid nineties when Intel was almost without any competition. Innovation was very slow and prices so high that a fast computer was pure luxury.

    If you knew what Intel did in Germany for example… It was so obvious. They were putting pressure on the biggest retailers forcing them not to sell AMD prodcucts – they were threatening them to take away rebates if they sold AMD products. At that time (2000 – 2003) AMD HAD the BETTER product (Athlon vs. P4) but Intel made it impossible for them to sell it. Do you honestly think that this is in the best interest of the consumer or the market? It’s unfair competive behaviour, using a dominant market position to make the entrance of a competitor impossible. That’s all. I hope they will get punished for it after all…

  • Thomas

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Innovation and low prices from Intel without competition? Never. Go back to the mid nineties when Intel was almost without any competition. Innovation was very slow and prices so high that a fast computer was pure luxury.

    If you knew what Intel did in Germany for example… It was so obvious. They were putting pressure on the biggest retailers forcing them not to sell AMD prodcucts – they were threatening them to take away rebates if they sold AMD products. At that time (2000 – 2003) AMD HAD the BETTER product (Athlon vs. P4) but Intel made it impossible for them to sell it. Do you honestly think that this is in the best interest of the consumer or the market? It’s unfair competive behaviour, using a dominant market position to make the entrance of a competitor impossible. That’s all. I hope they will get punished for it after all…

  • Thomas

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Innovation and low prices from Intel without competition? Never. Go back to the mid nineties when Intel was almost without any competition. Innovation was very slow and prices so high that a fast computer was pure luxury.

    If you knew what Intel did in Germany for example… It was so obvious. They were putting pressure on the biggest retailers forcing them not to sell AMD prodcucts – they were threatening them to take away rebates if they sold AMD products. At that time (2000 – 2003) AMD HAD the BETTER product (Athlon vs. P4) but Intel made it impossible for them to sell it. Do you honestly think that this is in the best interest of the consumer or the market? It’s unfair competive behaviour, using a dominant market position to make the entrance of a competitor impossible. That’s all. I hope they will get punished for it after all…

  • Lydia

    Pax – the question is not whether or not they should be prosecuted, the question is why now? Why are we spending money on this at this particular point in time? If this was a cut and dry antitrust case then clearly it would be important to prosecute. It’s not cut and dry. Hence why I compared to Microsoft.

    Thomas – clearly, I want there to be competition between AMD and Intel, which I state in the article. I simply think that AMD shouldn’t attempt to take Intel down as a last ditch effort to save their own brand. Maybe instead, they should have offered good competition THROUGHOUT their existence rather than trying to take down Intel now.

    Without Intel, is the consumer going to be better off? If AMD is the last one standing, are they going to come out with new innovative products? I hope so.

    It’s not that I don’t think we should prosecute monopolies, the question is WHEN is it ok for government to step in and interfere? Will this limit innovation?

  • Lydia

    Pax – the question is not whether or not they should be prosecuted, the question is why now? Why are we spending money on this at this particular point in time? If this was a cut and dry antitrust case then clearly it would be important to prosecute. It’s not cut and dry. Hence why I compared to Microsoft.

    Thomas – clearly, I want there to be competition between AMD and Intel, which I state in the article. I simply think that AMD shouldn’t attempt to take Intel down as a last ditch effort to save their own brand. Maybe instead, they should have offered good competition THROUGHOUT their existence rather than trying to take down Intel now.

    Without Intel, is the consumer going to be better off? If AMD is the last one standing, are they going to come out with new innovative products? I hope so.

    It’s not that I don’t think we should prosecute monopolies, the question is WHEN is it ok for government to step in and interfere? Will this limit innovation?

  • Lydia

    Pax – the question is not whether or not they should be prosecuted, the question is why now? Why are we spending money on this at this particular point in time? If this was a cut and dry antitrust case then clearly it would be important to prosecute. It’s not cut and dry. Hence why I compared to Microsoft.

    Thomas – clearly, I want there to be competition between AMD and Intel, which I state in the article. I simply think that AMD shouldn’t attempt to take Intel down as a last ditch effort to save their own brand. Maybe instead, they should have offered good competition THROUGHOUT their existence rather than trying to take down Intel now.

    Without Intel, is the consumer going to be better off? If AMD is the last one standing, are they going to come out with new innovative products? I hope so.

    It’s not that I don’t think we should prosecute monopolies, the question is WHEN is it ok for government to step in and interfere? Will this limit innovation?

  • Lydia

    Pax – the question is not whether or not they should be prosecuted, the question is why now? Why are we spending money on this at this particular point in time? If this was a cut and dry antitrust case then clearly it would be important to prosecute. It’s not cut and dry. Hence why I compared to Microsoft.

    Thomas – clearly, I want there to be competition between AMD and Intel, which I state in the article. I simply think that AMD shouldn’t attempt to take Intel down as a last ditch effort to save their own brand. Maybe instead, they should have offered good competition THROUGHOUT their existence rather than trying to take down Intel now.

    Without Intel, is the consumer going to be better off? If AMD is the last one standing, are they going to come out with new innovative products? I hope so.

    It’s not that I don’t think we should prosecute monopolies, the question is WHEN is it ok for government to step in and interfere? Will this limit innovation?

  • Josh

    Pax – there were plenty of OS’s that Microsoft was in competition with in the 90s. back then there were several flavors of linux around, Geoworks, Apple’s OS, just to name a few

    Also I don’t think either of you read thru this story. She isn’t saying that she doesn’t want competition, she does want there to be competition! She just is saying that this is a waste of taxpayer money for the go to be getting involved

  • Josh

    Pax – there were plenty of OS’s that Microsoft was in competition with in the 90s. back then there were several flavors of linux around, Geoworks, Apple’s OS, just to name a few

    Also I don’t think either of you read thru this story. She isn’t saying that she doesn’t want competition, she does want there to be competition! She just is saying that this is a waste of taxpayer money for the go to be getting involved

  • Josh

    Pax – there were plenty of OS’s that Microsoft was in competition with in the 90s. back then there were several flavors of linux around, Geoworks, Apple’s OS, just to name a few

    Also I don’t think either of you read thru this story. She isn’t saying that she doesn’t want competition, she does want there to be competition! She just is saying that this is a waste of taxpayer money for the go to be getting involved

  • Josh

    Pax – there were plenty of OS’s that Microsoft was in competition with in the 90s. back then there were several flavors of linux around, Geoworks, Apple’s OS, just to name a few

    Also I don’t think either of you read thru this story. She isn’t saying that she doesn’t want competition, she does want there to be competition! She just is saying that this is a waste of taxpayer money for the go to be getting involved

  • Rick Stephens

    The government has the right to up hold the law once they see a clear violation of it…recession or not.That’s when they should step in.

    Anti trust law are not only put in place to protect the consumer but small businesses as well. Rebates and price setting are unfair to small business and are anti competitive business practices.

    Now the question, did AMD push for this lawsuit? I may never know but I hope they did if Intel is involved in unfair business practices that may not hurt the consumer directly but hurts smaller businesses. Hopefully Intel is not involved in unfair practices and we can all move on with life, but they control too much of the market for us not to inquire and find out.

    I believe the lawsuit will not have an effect on customers because after all the litigation is over and done with Intel will still be in business, maybe with less market share!

  • Rick Stephens

    The government has the right to up hold the law once they see a clear violation of it…recession or not.That’s when they should step in.

    Anti trust law are not only put in place to protect the consumer but small businesses as well. Rebates and price setting are unfair to small business and are anti competitive business practices.

    Now the question, did AMD push for this lawsuit? I may never know but I hope they did if Intel is involved in unfair business practices that may not hurt the consumer directly but hurts smaller businesses. Hopefully Intel is not involved in unfair practices and we can all move on with life, but they control too much of the market for us not to inquire and find out.

    I believe the lawsuit will not have an effect on customers because after all the litigation is over and done with Intel will still be in business, maybe with less market share!

  • Rick Stephens

    The government has the right to up hold the law once they see a clear violation of it…recession or not.That’s when they should step in.

    Anti trust law are not only put in place to protect the consumer but small businesses as well. Rebates and price setting are unfair to small business and are anti competitive business practices.

    Now the question, did AMD push for this lawsuit? I may never know but I hope they did if Intel is involved in unfair business practices that may not hurt the consumer directly but hurts smaller businesses. Hopefully Intel is not involved in unfair practices and we can all move on with life, but they control too much of the market for us not to inquire and find out.

    I believe the lawsuit will not have an effect on customers because after all the litigation is over and done with Intel will still be in business, maybe with less market share!

  • Rick Stephens

    The government has the right to up hold the law once they see a clear violation of it…recession or not.That’s when they should step in.

    Anti trust law are not only put in place to protect the consumer but small businesses as well. Rebates and price setting are unfair to small business and are anti competitive business practices.

    Now the question, did AMD push for this lawsuit? I may never know but I hope they did if Intel is involved in unfair business practices that may not hurt the consumer directly but hurts smaller businesses. Hopefully Intel is not involved in unfair practices and we can all move on with life, but they control too much of the market for us not to inquire and find out.

    I believe the lawsuit will not have an effect on customers because after all the litigation is over and done with Intel will still be in business, maybe with less market share!

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  • Gary

    Lydia, you seem to miss the point of AMD’s, Cuomo’s, and various foreign countries’ antitrust efforts. Both in the body of your post and in your follow-up comment, you refer to AMD trying to “take Intel down,” and even go so far as to describe what the microprocessor landscape would be like without Intel. I assure you, this isn’t even being contemplated. The goal is to keep AMD from being taken down by Intel’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. AMD is simply trying to survive, not trying to “take Intel down,” because there is no realistic scenario where Intel’s survival is even remotely at risk.

    You assert that without Intel, “the consumer is the one losing with higher prices and less advanced innovation,” and yet you don’t appear to see this same outcome in a world without AMD. You simply describe Intel as “consistently innovative, inexpensive, and devoted to offering consumers the best product possible.” What really impresses me about AMD is that they have pulled more than one rabbit out of their hat, despite an R&D budget that is a small fraction of Intel’s.

    The fact is that Intel needs competition to remain as consumer-friendly as you see them. Do you remember when there was only one path forward in 64-bit computing? It was called “Itanium” and it was Intel’s pride and joy. It was quite expensive, and it could only run x86 software using emulation that was rather pathetic compared to the speed of native processing. AMD changed our computing future by designing 64-bit extensions to the existing x86 instruction set, and they were good enough that Intel was virtually forced to “follow the leader” (also because Microsoft preferred AMD’s path forward for consumers). If I recall correctly, one of the less touted “features” of Itanium was that its new instruction set was not covered in existing cross-licensing agreements Intel had with AMD, which didn’t bode well for AMD. So AMD remained relevant by designing a more consumer-friendly and ecosystem-friendly path to the future than what Intel was planning.

  • Gary

    Lydia, you seem to miss the point of AMD’s, Cuomo’s, and various foreign countries’ antitrust efforts. Both in the body of your post and in your follow-up comment, you refer to AMD trying to “take Intel down,” and even go so far as to describe what the microprocessor landscape would be like without Intel. I assure you, this isn’t even being contemplated. The goal is to keep AMD from being taken down by Intel’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. AMD is simply trying to survive, not trying to “take Intel down,” because there is no realistic scenario where Intel’s survival is even remotely at risk.

    You assert that without Intel, “the consumer is the one losing with higher prices and less advanced innovation,” and yet you don’t appear to see this same outcome in a world without AMD. You simply describe Intel as “consistently innovative, inexpensive, and devoted to offering consumers the best product possible.” What really impresses me about AMD is that they have pulled more than one rabbit out of their hat, despite an R&D budget that is a small fraction of Intel’s.

    The fact is that Intel needs competition to remain as consumer-friendly as you see them. Do you remember when there was only one path forward in 64-bit computing? It was called “Itanium” and it was Intel’s pride and joy. It was quite expensive, and it could only run x86 software using emulation that was rather pathetic compared to the speed of native processing. AMD changed our computing future by designing 64-bit extensions to the existing x86 instruction set, and they were good enough that Intel was virtually forced to “follow the leader” (also because Microsoft preferred AMD’s path forward for consumers). If I recall correctly, one of the less touted “features” of Itanium was that its new instruction set was not covered in existing cross-licensing agreements Intel had with AMD, which didn’t bode well for AMD. So AMD remained relevant by designing a more consumer-friendly and ecosystem-friendly path to the future than what Intel was planning.

  • Gary

    Lydia, you seem to miss the point of AMD’s, Cuomo’s, and various foreign countries’ antitrust efforts. Both in the body of your post and in your follow-up comment, you refer to AMD trying to “take Intel down,” and even go so far as to describe what the microprocessor landscape would be like without Intel. I assure you, this isn’t even being contemplated. The goal is to keep AMD from being taken down by Intel’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. AMD is simply trying to survive, not trying to “take Intel down,” because there is no realistic scenario where Intel’s survival is even remotely at risk.

    You assert that without Intel, “the consumer is the one losing with higher prices and less advanced innovation,” and yet you don’t appear to see this same outcome in a world without AMD. You simply describe Intel as “consistently innovative, inexpensive, and devoted to offering consumers the best product possible.” What really impresses me about AMD is that they have pulled more than one rabbit out of their hat, despite an R&D budget that is a small fraction of Intel’s.

    The fact is that Intel needs competition to remain as consumer-friendly as you see them. Do you remember when there was only one path forward in 64-bit computing? It was called “Itanium” and it was Intel’s pride and joy. It was quite expensive, and it could only run x86 software using emulation that was rather pathetic compared to the speed of native processing. AMD changed our computing future by designing 64-bit extensions to the existing x86 instruction set, and they were good enough that Intel was virtually forced to “follow the leader” (also because Microsoft preferred AMD’s path forward for consumers). If I recall correctly, one of the less touted “features” of Itanium was that its new instruction set was not covered in existing cross-licensing agreements Intel had with AMD, which didn’t bode well for AMD. So AMD remained relevant by designing a more consumer-friendly and ecosystem-friendly path to the future than what Intel was planning.

  • Gary

    Lydia, you seem to miss the point of AMD’s, Cuomo’s, and various foreign countries’ antitrust efforts. Both in the body of your post and in your follow-up comment, you refer to AMD trying to “take Intel down,” and even go so far as to describe what the microprocessor landscape would be like without Intel. I assure you, this isn’t even being contemplated. The goal is to keep AMD from being taken down by Intel’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. AMD is simply trying to survive, not trying to “take Intel down,” because there is no realistic scenario where Intel’s survival is even remotely at risk.

    You assert that without Intel, “the consumer is the one losing with higher prices and less advanced innovation,” and yet you don’t appear to see this same outcome in a world without AMD. You simply describe Intel as “consistently innovative, inexpensive, and devoted to offering consumers the best product possible.” What really impresses me about AMD is that they have pulled more than one rabbit out of their hat, despite an R&D budget that is a small fraction of Intel’s.

    The fact is that Intel needs competition to remain as consumer-friendly as you see them. Do you remember when there was only one path forward in 64-bit computing? It was called “Itanium” and it was Intel’s pride and joy. It was quite expensive, and it could only run x86 software using emulation that was rather pathetic compared to the speed of native processing. AMD changed our computing future by designing 64-bit extensions to the existing x86 instruction set, and they were good enough that Intel was virtually forced to “follow the leader” (also because Microsoft preferred AMD’s path forward for consumers). If I recall correctly, one of the less touted “features” of Itanium was that its new instruction set was not covered in existing cross-licensing agreements Intel had with AMD, which didn’t bode well for AMD. So AMD remained relevant by designing a more consumer-friendly and ecosystem-friendly path to the future than what Intel was planning.

  • SambaQueen

    Wow, so much heat and so little light. Cuomo seeks to prove that Intel bribed its customers to discourage them from buying competing products from AMD and others. If true, Intel violated US antitrust laws. Some rational people, including some economists, agree with Scott and think a lassez-faire approach is the way to go. Others, like those who participated in the 1974 break up the AT&T US telephone monopoly, think the government should prosecute those who try to create an anti-competitive environment. Should we wink-away Intel’s behaviour because they are a cool company, or not?

  • SambaQueen

    Wow, so much heat and so little light. Cuomo seeks to prove that Intel bribed its customers to discourage them from buying competing products from AMD and others. If true, Intel violated US antitrust laws. Some rational people, including some economists, agree with Scott and think a lassez-faire approach is the way to go. Others, like those who participated in the 1974 break up the AT&T US telephone monopoly, think the government should prosecute those who try to create an anti-competitive environment. Should we wink-away Intel’s behaviour because they are a cool company, or not?

  • SambaQueen

    Wow, so much heat and so little light. Cuomo seeks to prove that Intel bribed its customers to discourage them from buying competing products from AMD and others. If true, Intel violated US antitrust laws. Some rational people, including some economists, agree with Scott and think a lassez-faire approach is the way to go. Others, like those who participated in the 1974 break up the AT&T US telephone monopoly, think the government should prosecute those who try to create an anti-competitive environment. Should we wink-away Intel’s behaviour because they are a cool company, or not?

  • SambaQueen

    Wow, so much heat and so little light. Cuomo seeks to prove that Intel bribed its customers to discourage them from buying competing products from AMD and others. If true, Intel violated US antitrust laws. Some rational people, including some economists, agree with Scott and think a lassez-faire approach is the way to go. Others, like those who participated in the 1974 break up the AT&T US telephone monopoly, think the government should prosecute those who try to create an anti-competitive environment. Should we wink-away Intel’s behaviour because they are a cool company, or not?

  • Pax

    @Josh

    The anti-trust suit against MS occurred in ’98. In 1998, Apple was still struggling. Apple was seriously looking at bankruptcy after several consecutive years of losses. It wasn’t until 2001 that Apple (with the purchase of NextOS and by brining Steve Jobs back) started the new era of competition with the release of OS X (based on a NeXT/BSD core). They also introduced the iPod in 2001. During the period in question, Microsoft even lent (as many speculate) Apple $150 million (non-voting stock) just to help keep them afloat (so that MS would have a semblance of competition in the market and as a result of all the pressure they were getting). As for Linux, it was still unusable (except in the server market) as an alternative (KDE development started in ’98, Gnome in ’99). Microsoft was even squashing alternatives like BeOS in mafia-like manner and threatening distributors who even considered alternatives. All of this is public knowledge.

    This is why I said the MS analogy was a bad one – perhaps one of the worse that the writer of this article could have come up with. A little research would have pulled this out.

    @Lydia. Sincere apologies for my initial heavy-handed comment. I was actually quite shocked by what I read.

    As for your question, “the question is why now?” My answer is that this is necessary especially now. Countries do not pull themselves out of a recession as a result of the efforts of a single company. They do so, as others have stated in the comments, by the actions of many businesses – large and small. That’s why we have stimulus packages in the form of tax refunds, homeowner credits, car credits, etc… This money is already coming out of our pockets and not through the efforts of businesses.

    Intel may not be charging alot of money for their processors now but I recall that several of my earlier machines in the late-90s were based on AMD processors because I couldn’t afford the steeper Intel-based systems. The systems I own today are based on Intel and I like to believe that this is so because of competition. I’d hate to think that Intel (the more stable of the two companies) is using the recession to bankrupt another company. We’ll find out if Intel is guilty of any wrong-doing. Justice should always run it’s course.

  • Pax

    @Josh

    The anti-trust suit against MS occurred in ’98. In 1998, Apple was still struggling. Apple was seriously looking at bankruptcy after several consecutive years of losses. It wasn’t until 2001 that Apple (with the purchase of NextOS and by brining Steve Jobs back) started the new era of competition with the release of OS X (based on a NeXT/BSD core). They also introduced the iPod in 2001. During the period in question, Microsoft even lent (as many speculate) Apple $150 million (non-voting stock) just to help keep them afloat (so that MS would have a semblance of competition in the market and as a result of all the pressure they were getting). As for Linux, it was still unusable (except in the server market) as an alternative (KDE development started in ’98, Gnome in ’99). Microsoft was even squashing alternatives like BeOS in mafia-like manner and threatening distributors who even considered alternatives. All of this is public knowledge.

    This is why I said the MS analogy was a bad one – perhaps one of the worse that the writer of this article could have come up with. A little research would have pulled this out.

    @Lydia. Sincere apologies for my initial heavy-handed comment. I was actually quite shocked by what I read.

    As for your question, “the question is why now?” My answer is that this is necessary especially now. Countries do not pull themselves out of a recession as a result of the efforts of a single company. They do so, as others have stated in the comments, by the actions of many businesses – large and small. That’s why we have stimulus packages in the form of tax refunds, homeowner credits, car credits, etc… This money is already coming out of our pockets and not through the efforts of businesses.

    Intel may not be charging alot of money for their processors now but I recall that several of my earlier machines in the late-90s were based on AMD processors because I couldn’t afford the steeper Intel-based systems. The systems I own today are based on Intel and I like to believe that this is so because of competition. I’d hate to think that Intel (the more stable of the two companies) is using the recession to bankrupt another company. We’ll find out if Intel is guilty of any wrong-doing. Justice should always run it’s course.

  • Pax

    @Josh

    The anti-trust suit against MS occurred in ’98. In 1998, Apple was still struggling. Apple was seriously looking at bankruptcy after several consecutive years of losses. It wasn’t until 2001 that Apple (with the purchase of NextOS and by brining Steve Jobs back) started the new era of competition with the release of OS X (based on a NeXT/BSD core). They also introduced the iPod in 2001. During the period in question, Microsoft even lent (as many speculate) Apple $150 million (non-voting stock) just to help keep them afloat (so that MS would have a semblance of competition in the market and as a result of all the pressure they were getting). As for Linux, it was still unusable (except in the server market) as an alternative (KDE development started in ’98, Gnome in ’99). Microsoft was even squashing alternatives like BeOS in mafia-like manner and threatening distributors who even considered alternatives. All of this is public knowledge.

    This is why I said the MS analogy was a bad one – perhaps one of the worse that the writer of this article could have come up with. A little research would have pulled this out.

    @Lydia. Sincere apologies for my initial heavy-handed comment. I was actually quite shocked by what I read.

    As for your question, “the question is why now?” My answer is that this is necessary especially now. Countries do not pull themselves out of a recession as a result of the efforts of a single company. They do so, as others have stated in the comments, by the actions of many businesses – large and small. That’s why we have stimulus packages in the form of tax refunds, homeowner credits, car credits, etc… This money is already coming out of our pockets and not through the efforts of businesses.

    Intel may not be charging alot of money for their processors now but I recall that several of my earlier machines in the late-90s were based on AMD processors because I couldn’t afford the steeper Intel-based systems. The systems I own today are based on Intel and I like to believe that this is so because of competition. I’d hate to think that Intel (the more stable of the two companies) is using the recession to bankrupt another company. We’ll find out if Intel is guilty of any wrong-doing. Justice should always run it’s course.

  • Pax

    @Josh

    The anti-trust suit against MS occurred in ’98. In 1998, Apple was still struggling. Apple was seriously looking at bankruptcy after several consecutive years of losses. It wasn’t until 2001 that Apple (with the purchase of NextOS and by brining Steve Jobs back) started the new era of competition with the release of OS X (based on a NeXT/BSD core). They also introduced the iPod in 2001. During the period in question, Microsoft even lent (as many speculate) Apple $150 million (non-voting stock) just to help keep them afloat (so that MS would have a semblance of competition in the market and as a result of all the pressure they were getting). As for Linux, it was still unusable (except in the server market) as an alternative (KDE development started in ’98, Gnome in ’99). Microsoft was even squashing alternatives like BeOS in mafia-like manner and threatening distributors who even considered alternatives. All of this is public knowledge.

    This is why I said the MS analogy was a bad one – perhaps one of the worse that the writer of this article could have come up with. A little research would have pulled this out.

    @Lydia. Sincere apologies for my initial heavy-handed comment. I was actually quite shocked by what I read.

    As for your question, “the question is why now?” My answer is that this is necessary especially now. Countries do not pull themselves out of a recession as a result of the efforts of a single company. They do so, as others have stated in the comments, by the actions of many businesses – large and small. That’s why we have stimulus packages in the form of tax refunds, homeowner credits, car credits, etc… This money is already coming out of our pockets and not through the efforts of businesses.

    Intel may not be charging alot of money for their processors now but I recall that several of my earlier machines in the late-90s were based on AMD processors because I couldn’t afford the steeper Intel-based systems. The systems I own today are based on Intel and I like to believe that this is so because of competition. I’d hate to think that Intel (the more stable of the two companies) is using the recession to bankrupt another company. We’ll find out if Intel is guilty of any wrong-doing. Justice should always run it’s course.

  • Joshua

    Lydia, your assertion that this is an attempt by AMD to extort funds from Intel is probably wrong. AMD has attempted for years to stay competitive to Intel and they have been suing each other for years. The Cuomo thing will not have any direct financial affect on AMD, they won’t receive any of the money if Cuomo (state of NY wins.)
    For a really good analysis and to see what Cuomo thinks about Intel, check out the actual text of the lawsuit at the New York Attorney General’s site
    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/media_center/2009/nov/NYAG_v_Intel_COMPLAINT_FINAL.pdf
    As for the cost of microprocessors being low, they would probably have been lower if Intel didn’t do this stuff. Also the Intel “architecture” (x86) is the dominant one. This is what Intel really wants to control. In the late 90’s Microsoft supported the DEC Alpha chip, (the first chip to hit 1Ghz clock speed) but no longer does because of the dominance of Intel and the difficulty of supported two architectures. Why bother, with Intel bribing customers, why should Microsoft not ride Intel’s bus?
    BTW, the cost of the processor chip is the single largest cost of a PC. More than the motherboard which has tons of smaller chips on it.
    As for AMD “taking down Intel,” there is no way this will happen and no way that Cuomo wants that to happen. And yes, the money from the lawsuit will go into a bureaucratic hole and not to AMD. Intel sells hundreds of products with X86 type chips being it’s largest, but by no means its only product, so don’t worry the stupid “Intel Inside” stickers are here to stay.
    It makes no difference legally if an AMD chip is in fact competitive with an Intel chip (in fact they are, and this sways back and forth each product cycle.)
    If we allow Intel to create a non-level playing field, we send a message to Intel that this is OK, and we allow other companies to do the same, perhaps on a smaller scale. So is Cuomo trying to make an example of Intel? I suspect so.
    AMD recently acquired ATI, a maker of hot graphics chips. The consumer hope is that AMD will integrate ATI’s technology onto the microprocessor core to provide the next level of price/performance onto the chip. Intel provides a feeble integrated graphics capability now (called GMA). It never needed to because there was no real competition for this. If Intel is allowed to continue to suppress AMD, this innovation may never make it to the desktop and Intel won’t have to deal with this new idea. If AMD can compete, expect to see some really powerful graphics at really low prices from both companies, not just AMD.
    P.S. I own a vintage 486 chip made by Texas Instruments in the 90’s. It came out of a DOS PC I owned. TI got snuffed out of the market. Was it due, in part, to Intel’s monopolistic practices or was it a bad product? Who knows?

  • Joshua

    Lydia, your assertion that this is an attempt by AMD to extort funds from Intel is probably wrong. AMD has attempted for years to stay competitive to Intel and they have been suing each other for years. The Cuomo thing will not have any direct financial affect on AMD, they won’t receive any of the money if Cuomo (state of NY wins.)
    For a really good analysis and to see what Cuomo thinks about Intel, check out the actual text of the lawsuit at the New York Attorney General’s site
    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/media_center/2009/nov/NYAG_v_Intel_COMPLAINT_FINAL.pdf
    As for the cost of microprocessors being low, they would probably have been lower if Intel didn’t do this stuff. Also the Intel “architecture” (x86) is the dominant one. This is what Intel really wants to control. In the late 90’s Microsoft supported the DEC Alpha chip, (the first chip to hit 1Ghz clock speed) but no longer does because of the dominance of Intel and the difficulty of supported two architectures. Why bother, with Intel bribing customers, why should Microsoft not ride Intel’s bus?
    BTW, the cost of the processor chip is the single largest cost of a PC. More than the motherboard which has tons of smaller chips on it.
    As for AMD “taking down Intel,” there is no way this will happen and no way that Cuomo wants that to happen. And yes, the money from the lawsuit will go into a bureaucratic hole and not to AMD. Intel sells hundreds of products with X86 type chips being it’s largest, but by no means its only product, so don’t worry the stupid “Intel Inside” stickers are here to stay.
    It makes no difference legally if an AMD chip is in fact competitive with an Intel chip (in fact they are, and this sways back and forth each product cycle.)
    If we allow Intel to create a non-level playing field, we send a message to Intel that this is OK, and we allow other companies to do the same, perhaps on a smaller scale. So is Cuomo trying to make an example of Intel? I suspect so.
    AMD recently acquired ATI, a maker of hot graphics chips. The consumer hope is that AMD will integrate ATI’s technology onto the microprocessor core to provide the next level of price/performance onto the chip. Intel provides a feeble integrated graphics capability now (called GMA). It never needed to because there was no real competition for this. If Intel is allowed to continue to suppress AMD, this innovation may never make it to the desktop and Intel won’t have to deal with this new idea. If AMD can compete, expect to see some really powerful graphics at really low prices from both companies, not just AMD.
    P.S. I own a vintage 486 chip made by Texas Instruments in the 90’s. It came out of a DOS PC I owned. TI got snuffed out of the market. Was it due, in part, to Intel’s monopolistic practices or was it a bad product? Who knows?

  • Joshua

    Lydia, your assertion that this is an attempt by AMD to extort funds from Intel is probably wrong. AMD has attempted for years to stay competitive to Intel and they have been suing each other for years. The Cuomo thing will not have any direct financial affect on AMD, they won’t receive any of the money if Cuomo (state of NY wins.)
    For a really good analysis and to see what Cuomo thinks about Intel, check out the actual text of the lawsuit at the New York Attorney General’s site
    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/media_center/2009/nov/NYAG_v_Intel_COMPLAINT_FINAL.pdf
    As for the cost of microprocessors being low, they would probably have been lower if Intel didn’t do this stuff. Also the Intel “architecture” (x86) is the dominant one. This is what Intel really wants to control. In the late 90’s Microsoft supported the DEC Alpha chip, (the first chip to hit 1Ghz clock speed) but no longer does because of the dominance of Intel and the difficulty of supported two architectures. Why bother, with Intel bribing customers, why should Microsoft not ride Intel’s bus?
    BTW, the cost of the processor chip is the single largest cost of a PC. More than the motherboard which has tons of smaller chips on it.
    As for AMD “taking down Intel,” there is no way this will happen and no way that Cuomo wants that to happen. And yes, the money from the lawsuit will go into a bureaucratic hole and not to AMD. Intel sells hundreds of products with X86 type chips being it’s largest, but by no means its only product, so don’t worry the stupid “Intel Inside” stickers are here to stay.
    It makes no difference legally if an AMD chip is in fact competitive with an Intel chip (in fact they are, and this sways back and forth each product cycle.)
    If we allow Intel to create a non-level playing field, we send a message to Intel that this is OK, and we allow other companies to do the same, perhaps on a smaller scale. So is Cuomo trying to make an example of Intel? I suspect so.
    AMD recently acquired ATI, a maker of hot graphics chips. The consumer hope is that AMD will integrate ATI’s technology onto the microprocessor core to provide the next level of price/performance onto the chip. Intel provides a feeble integrated graphics capability now (called GMA). It never needed to because there was no real competition for this. If Intel is allowed to continue to suppress AMD, this innovation may never make it to the desktop and Intel won’t have to deal with this new idea. If AMD can compete, expect to see some really powerful graphics at really low prices from both companies, not just AMD.
    P.S. I own a vintage 486 chip made by Texas Instruments in the 90’s. It came out of a DOS PC I owned. TI got snuffed out of the market. Was it due, in part, to Intel’s monopolistic practices or was it a bad product? Who knows?

  • Joshua

    Lydia, your assertion that this is an attempt by AMD to extort funds from Intel is probably wrong. AMD has attempted for years to stay competitive to Intel and they have been suing each other for years. The Cuomo thing will not have any direct financial affect on AMD, they won’t receive any of the money if Cuomo (state of NY wins.)
    For a really good analysis and to see what Cuomo thinks about Intel, check out the actual text of the lawsuit at the New York Attorney General’s site
    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/media_center/2009/nov/NYAG_v_Intel_COMPLAINT_FINAL.pdf
    As for the cost of microprocessors being low, they would probably have been lower if Intel didn’t do this stuff. Also the Intel “architecture” (x86) is the dominant one. This is what Intel really wants to control. In the late 90’s Microsoft supported the DEC Alpha chip, (the first chip to hit 1Ghz clock speed) but no longer does because of the dominance of Intel and the difficulty of supported two architectures. Why bother, with Intel bribing customers, why should Microsoft not ride Intel’s bus?
    BTW, the cost of the processor chip is the single largest cost of a PC. More than the motherboard which has tons of smaller chips on it.
    As for AMD “taking down Intel,” there is no way this will happen and no way that Cuomo wants that to happen. And yes, the money from the lawsuit will go into a bureaucratic hole and not to AMD. Intel sells hundreds of products with X86 type chips being it’s largest, but by no means its only product, so don’t worry the stupid “Intel Inside” stickers are here to stay.
    It makes no difference legally if an AMD chip is in fact competitive with an Intel chip (in fact they are, and this sways back and forth each product cycle.)
    If we allow Intel to create a non-level playing field, we send a message to Intel that this is OK, and we allow other companies to do the same, perhaps on a smaller scale. So is Cuomo trying to make an example of Intel? I suspect so.
    AMD recently acquired ATI, a maker of hot graphics chips. The consumer hope is that AMD will integrate ATI’s technology onto the microprocessor core to provide the next level of price/performance onto the chip. Intel provides a feeble integrated graphics capability now (called GMA). It never needed to because there was no real competition for this. If Intel is allowed to continue to suppress AMD, this innovation may never make it to the desktop and Intel won’t have to deal with this new idea. If AMD can compete, expect to see some really powerful graphics at really low prices from both companies, not just AMD.
    P.S. I own a vintage 486 chip made by Texas Instruments in the 90’s. It came out of a DOS PC I owned. TI got snuffed out of the market. Was it due, in part, to Intel’s monopolistic practices or was it a bad product? Who knows?

  • Joshua

    This just in: Intel folds and pays AMD a ton of cash!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/technology/companies/13chip.html?hp

  • Joshua

    This just in: Intel folds and pays AMD a ton of cash!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/technology/companies/13chip.html?hp

  • Joshua

    This just in: Intel folds and pays AMD a ton of cash!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/technology/companies/13chip.html?hp

  • Joshua

    This just in: Intel folds and pays AMD a ton of cash!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/technology/companies/13chip.html?hp

  • Jeff

    I read through a couple of the comments and thought I would throw in a little more semi-conductor history.

    I began pursuing pcs as a hobby when I went to college in 2003. At that time I started with an amd machine because similarly powerful Intel chips cost nearly twice as much. I believe my athlon xp 2500 cost me $130, whereas a P4B 2.53 would have cost me around $250.

    Going much further back in history I think that we see that Intel has traditionally been a company very annoyed at any competition within its x86 space. Originally Intel created the x86 format, and some years later AMD, Via, and Cyrix started offering lower cost alternatives in the same architecture. Intel sued them and lost, creating the first Intel/AMD cross-license agreement which allowed both companies access to the x86 architecture.

    By the P2 era a top end pentium cost roughly $1,000 for the chip, while a top end K6 (AMD) was roughly $450. The k6 provided, oh 75-90% of the P2s performance at about 45% of the cost. By this time Via and Cyrix had both given up serious competition with Intel, and eventually Via bought Cyrix and continues to create cpus in a very small low performance/low power niche that both AMD and Intel have mostly ignored until recently.

    In the P3 era, AMD made its first massive break (first in really all of consumer computing) and started offering the Athlon cpu as an alternative product instead of a drop-in replacement. Prior to this the same motherboard would use a P2 or a K6, the K6 was mostly budget product. AMD effectively announced that they wanted to seriously compete, and they did. The early P3 was mostly outclassed by the early athlon, and it wasn’t until the second and third generations of these chips that Intel had a performance adv really anywhere in the product spectrum. The Athlon was both cheaper and faster most of the time.

    Yet, the original Athlon made very little impact in consumer retail space, why? Obviously being a new brand in a market that traditionally confuses consumers had something to do with it. But also, there’s the Intel Inside program, whereby resellers would have to pay more for Intel chips if they also packaged AMD products. (actually a discount program for selling only Intel, but you see where that goes).

    Then Intel does a couple interesting things. First, they’ve been playing with this design that uses very high clock speeds (Mhz) to push smaller packets of data, and so they market it as the P4. It debuts at 1.3 Ghz to 1.8-2.0 Ghz. The Athlon was sitting about 1.3 at the time. People get them and begin to test them and… guess what. a 1.3 Athlon is actually about as fast as a 1.7 P4. In fact, by the following year in 2001 the Athlon xp 1900+ at 1.47 was trading blows with the 2.0 P4. Of course, the question is, does that matter in a market traditionally dominated by clock speeds? No. It becomes an uphill struggle that most resellers don’t want to face to tell consumers that many Athlons are faster and cheaper.

    Fast forward again to 2003. By this time Intel had gained a performance advantage with the P4, but AMD has finished the Hammer design and markets it in September. And most of the industry’s jaw drops. a 2.0 Ghz Hammer (K8) unilaterally destroys a 3.2 P4 with hyperthreading. I remember this well, and wishing I could afford one. Finally a distinct advantage that no one could really deny!

    Yet. I worked at Best Buy at the time, a company which at the time still received holiday gifts from Intel. There was not a simple Athlon 64 machine in our store until almost October of 2004. Our salesmen instead preferred to sell 3.4Ghz Prescott machines, a P4 derivative that was not only slower than AMD’s design, it produced dangerous amounts of heat for the era with cpus consuming up to 145W.

    AMD’s performance lead lasted until the end of 2006, when the Core 2 debuted. By that time they had gotten to roughly 22% marketshare. The current antitrust suit you are blogging about has been in the making for 2-3 years, during which time Intel has continuously delayed proceedings by losing documents or refusing to turn over materials.

    Intel will ride out this economic trend just fine, even during their worst blunders (P4 era) they retained well over 50% marketshare with inferior products. They have over 10 fabs worldwide and enough design and development resources to field 3 wholly different architectures at one time (Core, P4, Itanium). They have traditionally showed themselves to be anticompetition, using legal means, illegal means, and market manipulation (P4 clock rates) to hold onto their x86 dominance.

    AMD is a small company who has never owned more than 3 fabs and has fought maniacally to hold onto a competitive spot in the x86 market. They have an up and down financial history, but as a company are wholly responsible for some really cool innovations, not the least of which is x86 64-bit computing (Intel had wanted us all to switch to a new, totally proprietary format for 64 bit, claiming that x86-64 was impossible). Their record has been less than stellar in the last 3 years, as has their execution. However, it is also good to remember that budget and facility constraints stick them with the architecture that they have, which is still very much the 2003 Hammer. Intel has fielded several ideas in that time, certainly contributed to by their massively greater resources.

    Personally, I am glad for the resolution, and hope to see a nearly bankrupt AMD return to the position of competitive underdog I so fondly remember.

  • Jeff

    I read through a couple of the comments and thought I would throw in a little more semi-conductor history.

    I began pursuing pcs as a hobby when I went to college in 2003. At that time I started with an amd machine because similarly powerful Intel chips cost nearly twice as much. I believe my athlon xp 2500 cost me $130, whereas a P4B 2.53 would have cost me around $250.

    Going much further back in history I think that we see that Intel has traditionally been a company very annoyed at any competition within its x86 space. Originally Intel created the x86 format, and some years later AMD, Via, and Cyrix started offering lower cost alternatives in the same architecture. Intel sued them and lost, creating the first Intel/AMD cross-license agreement which allowed both companies access to the x86 architecture.

    By the P2 era a top end pentium cost roughly $1,000 for the chip, while a top end K6 (AMD) was roughly $450. The k6 provided, oh 75-90% of the P2s performance at about 45% of the cost. By this time Via and Cyrix had both given up serious competition with Intel, and eventually Via bought Cyrix and continues to create cpus in a very small low performance/low power niche that both AMD and Intel have mostly ignored until recently.

    In the P3 era, AMD made its first massive break (first in really all of consumer computing) and started offering the Athlon cpu as an alternative product instead of a drop-in replacement. Prior to this the same motherboard would use a P2 or a K6, the K6 was mostly budget product. AMD effectively announced that they wanted to seriously compete, and they did. The early P3 was mostly outclassed by the early athlon, and it wasn’t until the second and third generations of these chips that Intel had a performance adv really anywhere in the product spectrum. The Athlon was both cheaper and faster most of the time.

    Yet, the original Athlon made very little impact in consumer retail space, why? Obviously being a new brand in a market that traditionally confuses consumers had something to do with it. But also, there’s the Intel Inside program, whereby resellers would have to pay more for Intel chips if they also packaged AMD products. (actually a discount program for selling only Intel, but you see where that goes).

    Then Intel does a couple interesting things. First, they’ve been playing with this design that uses very high clock speeds (Mhz) to push smaller packets of data, and so they market it as the P4. It debuts at 1.3 Ghz to 1.8-2.0 Ghz. The Athlon was sitting about 1.3 at the time. People get them and begin to test them and… guess what. a 1.3 Athlon is actually about as fast as a 1.7 P4. In fact, by the following year in 2001 the Athlon xp 1900+ at 1.47 was trading blows with the 2.0 P4. Of course, the question is, does that matter in a market traditionally dominated by clock speeds? No. It becomes an uphill struggle that most resellers don’t want to face to tell consumers that many Athlons are faster and cheaper.

    Fast forward again to 2003. By this time Intel had gained a performance advantage with the P4, but AMD has finished the Hammer design and markets it in September. And most of the industry’s jaw drops. a 2.0 Ghz Hammer (K8) unilaterally destroys a 3.2 P4 with hyperthreading. I remember this well, and wishing I could afford one. Finally a distinct advantage that no one could really deny!

    Yet. I worked at Best Buy at the time, a company which at the time still received holiday gifts from Intel. There was not a simple Athlon 64 machine in our store until almost October of 2004. Our salesmen instead preferred to sell 3.4Ghz Prescott machines, a P4 derivative that was not only slower than AMD’s design, it produced dangerous amounts of heat for the era with cpus consuming up to 145W.

    AMD’s performance lead lasted until the end of 2006, when the Core 2 debuted. By that time they had gotten to roughly 22% marketshare. The current antitrust suit you are blogging about has been in the making for 2-3 years, during which time Intel has continuously delayed proceedings by losing documents or refusing to turn over materials.

    Intel will ride out this economic trend just fine, even during their worst blunders (P4 era) they retained well over 50% marketshare with inferior products. They have over 10 fabs worldwide and enough design and development resources to field 3 wholly different architectures at one time (Core, P4, Itanium). They have traditionally showed themselves to be anticompetition, using legal means, illegal means, and market manipulation (P4 clock rates) to hold onto their x86 dominance.

    AMD is a small company who has never owned more than 3 fabs and has fought maniacally to hold onto a competitive spot in the x86 market. They have an up and down financial history, but as a company are wholly responsible for some really cool innovations, not the least of which is x86 64-bit computing (Intel had wanted us all to switch to a new, totally proprietary format for 64 bit, claiming that x86-64 was impossible). Their record has been less than stellar in the last 3 years, as has their execution. However, it is also good to remember that budget and facility constraints stick them with the architecture that they have, which is still very much the 2003 Hammer. Intel has fielded several ideas in that time, certainly contributed to by their massively greater resources.

    Personally, I am glad for the resolution, and hope to see a nearly bankrupt AMD return to the position of competitive underdog I so fondly remember.

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