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Intel Government The Courts News

FTC Opens Formal Antitrust Investigation of Intel 117

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the setting-the-antitrust-bar dept.
andy1307 writes to tell us that according to the New York Times, The Federal Trade Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation of Intel. Reversing the decision of former FTC chairperson Deborah P. Majoras, the new chair William E. Kovacic is pushing the investigation to look into Intel's pricing policies. "Since it will almost certainly be many months before the commission decides whether to make a case against Intel, as European and Asian regulators have already done, the investigation could mark an important early test for the next administration on antitrust and competition policy."
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FTC Opens Formal Antitrust Investigation of Intel

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  • Never understood.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:07PM (#23686661) Homepage Journal
    Not that I have ever had a problem with Intel (though I have always bought AMD), but I never understood how why Microsoft gets ALL the blunt of the anti-trust stuff. Intel made a killing with their "Intel inside" campaign, but was it THAT great? I think more architectures for home PCs would be a major benefit to open source software, and a big hit to the stranglehold M$ has had over the sheeple for a long time. I have wanted to get a sparq for a long time, but it has felt a bit to risky to just make a statement. I really hope something comes of this investigation, if Intel was really playing unfair.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      I don't believe Intel and Microsoft are at all comparable. I can buy an AMD processor that runs all the same software, heck I wouldn't even know the difference without opening the box. The same cannot be said for the OS.

      I still resent Intel for gouging me all through the 90s, but let's face it they are the best and AMD have largely kept Intel in check.

      That said, if their pricing strategy is illegal, well I guess they should get sued.

      • But was it necessary for Windows to be built for Intel-based processors only in order to secure their monopoly? Was it only Microsoft that saw an advantage in only developing for one processor type, whether or not it was the best? Not that I'm worried, just not convinced there wasn't any collusion between Microsoft and Intel that helped secure each others monopoly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dbcad7 (771464)
          I think this is more about practices with vendors that were similar to Microsoft tactics.. How long did Dell refuse to use AMD processors even when performance exceeded Intel's ? .. but there are extenuating circumstances, so I don't think much is going to happen.. mainly that vendors claimed that AMD didn't have the capacity to supply in the volumes they required.. which is why Macs are also Intel... If you can't deliver "production wise" then you can't really complain if you don't get the business.

          I'm an

  • Not just Anti-trust (Score:2, Interesting)

    by houstonbofh (602064)
    I hope people remember that there are some good reasons to avoid AMD besides pressure from Intel. More than a few people got burned by the poor support for OEM cpus that were DOA. I was one, and avoid AMD to this day because if it. Yes, they are better now, but I have a long memory.
    • Could be said both ways... I'm quite happy with my Intel products myself, but I know someone who won't buy an Intel chip because of poor support for a DOA top of the line Intel CPU he bought.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Lostlander (1219708)
        Indeed, When I was working as an in store sales rep promoting Intel. I spent half my time hearing about overheat disasters with Pentium D series processors. When the Core came out for laptops and Core2 finally came out I thanked the heavens since I could finally talk bad about the D's and not have to worry about my bosses getting word. Although once they had enough sales from the Core2 series they were kind enough to kick my entire region on our collective butts. From most of what I have heard AMD's OEM is
    • I knew about AMD's problems when I first started buying AMD processors. I see it as what are you willing to put up with? I narrowed the argument down to this: 1/10 AMD processors are DOA (based on hearsay), BUT are only perfect or DOA, never shoddy with intermittent problems. AMD has a GREAT return policy for their retailers (never dealt with them directly). Intel can be counted on to be perfect every time out of the box, but you pay, IMHO, up to double for comparable performance. I am not going to pay a fe
      • I don't know where you were buying your CPUs, but I have had exactly 1 DOA processor from AMD in dealing with oh.. dozens of dozens.

        Often times, what appeared like a bad CPU was actually a motherboard issue with voltage not being applied correctly. I found this on a few KT266A boards where the BIOS would be set for 1.65v but instead supply 1.58v, or barely enough to boot. The fix for this, was to set the BIOS voltage to 1.7 and usually achieve a voltage of 1.6+ which was sufficient most times.

        This wa

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          We've bought about 700 desktops over the last seven years, all with AMD processors and have had around two or three confirmed cases of the CPU being bad

          I've personally bought 5 AMD processors in that time and have never had a problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dragonslicer (991472)
      Not that my anecdotal experience is worth more than your anecdotal experience, but I remember the exact opposite. Several years ago, I had a problem with JPEG's not rendering correctly. I contacted my video card manufacturer's support, assuming it was a video card problem (some things would render fine, others wouldn't, so my first guess was the video card). I was told that it was a known manufacturing defect in some AMD CPU's. I contacted AMD, and they said that it was odd that the problem would show up af
  • by mandark1967 (630856) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:20PM (#23686851) Homepage Journal
    I can definately see the reasoning behind AMDs push to get this investigation underway.

    I used Intel when they were fastest and AMD when they were, and now I am using Intel Chips again.

    If Intel used its position to force vendor lock-in and exclude AMD, and AMD can prove they lost a healthy chunk of market for the Athlon 64 that, most likely, would have went to resolve the teething problems with Phenom so that it made its original launch date and frequency...then Intel is going to have to break out the checkbook and make sure they got a lotta ink in the pen, cause it's gonna cost them a LOT.

    If it's proven that actions resulted in events like this, you can bet Intel will settle all allegations before a final finding of fact is ever released...and pay a healthy sum to AMD to just shut up.

    I just hope that, if these allegations are true, they are forced to pay an equitable amount to AMD and not fight it for years because these two companies vying for my business keep prices low enough for us to get some great gear these days...
  • Wait a Minute.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mpapet (761907) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:21PM (#23686857) Homepage
    Why is this happening now instead of years ago? The harm Intel has created is egregious and has been obvious for a long time.

    Did someone at the White House get up on the wrong side of bed one morning? Maybe the White House didn't like what the Executives were doing with their political action funds?

    Why now?
  • And we care why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:23PM (#23686899) Homepage Journal
    Lets say they do get declared a monopoly. What happens to them? From the record of late, nothing. They walk away with a token slap, while they keep their market share.

    And we tax payers got to foot the bill.
  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonent.stonent@pointclark@net> on Friday June 06, 2008 @04:36PM (#23687099) Journal
    It used to be you got the Intel chip, chipset by whoever, a video card and a NIC. Now buy an Intel based computer and you get an Intel processor, Intel chipset, Intel video, and Intel NIC. So with the bundling you save a lot of money but it in effect shuts out a lot of other companies.

    But personally I never have any problems with Intel chip + Intel chipset... It always just works. It seems any time I have problems it is when I use some other chipset.
    • by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Friday June 06, 2008 @05:32PM (#23687835) Homepage
      Really? Because I have an Intel processor, an nVidia chipset, and an nVidia graphics card. The reason for this anti-trust case isn't entirely because of a monopoly. It's because of a monopoly + noncompetitive practices made to artificially keep AMD's market share low. Intel fan boy, AMD fanboy, it doesn't matter. There is 0 debate in the fact that AMD's Athlon core was a much superior product [tomshardware.com] to Intel's Netburst. However, their market share [billcara.com] has not reflected that. AMD alleges that that's because Intel has been offering $37 million worth of discounts [nytimes.com] to OEMs, but only if they keep AMD at or below 20% of their products sold. Intel says that these are not unfair or anticompetitive at all. That's where the anti-trust stuff comes in. Abusing dominant position in the market place to keep others off your turf.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SBrach (1073190)
      For the time being I haven't and won't buy anything but an intel board and proccessor. I used to run AMD's and still run a couple but they have not been without their problems. You can buy a Intel mobo with X3500, Gigabit nic, 7.1 sound and a Core2Duo 3.0ghz for $250 to $300 and everything will, like you said, just work. Now you might be able to build something comparable with AMD for a similar price but is anyone really arguing that the Core2Duo isn't better than AMD's offerings. I like having the grap
      • the Core2Duo 3.0ghz is about $189.99 just for the cpu and a MB with X3500 is $89.99. But Nvidia and ati have much better on board video. But you can get amd 3 core or quad core for less + a 780g board with better on board video for less. That 780g board can also boost an ati video card.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mitgib (1156957)
        I have about 100 servers for my small hosting business, 100% AMD, and I can think of only 1 machine that has an AMD chipset on it, and it still has Broadcom nic's and some not well know video on the board, a Tyan dual opteron board, so not some cheap desktop equipment either.

        I recently compared a Dell dual quad opteron and a like Dell dual quad Xeon, and wound up buying a few Tyan barebone dual quad's with adaptec raid cards and double the ram and still saved a couple bucks over anything Dell could do fo

      • by laffer1 (701823)
        Well AMD does make chipsets with video.. ATI = AMD. I've been on an Intel only run lately myself. I gave my last AMD box to my mother over a year ago. With the exception of the original athlons, I've liked AMD chips since the K6-2 300. Their problem has always been solid chipsets. nvidia had some decent mb chipsets for AMD cpus, but since AMD bought ATI, thinks have gone sour there.

        At the moment, I'd probably only consider AMD for servers, because I know there are a few good server chipsets. I tend

  • I submitted an article yesterday (still pending, but you can imagine it's future). It was based around a Reuters article which points out that there are several legal actions pending now. The article is at:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN0540220820080605?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0 [reuters.com]

    Sorry I couldn't get it accepted. As a journalist, I'm a complete lamer. But it's an interesting article, and it may even be around for a bit--I don't know Reuter's policies, vis-a-vis demanding registra
  • Intel is Guilty (Score:2, Interesting)

    by byteherder (722785)
    The dirty little secret of the industry has been that Intel has been guilty of unfair business practices for a long time. Basically, they say to their customers, if you cut out AMD we will give you cut rate prices. If you don't we will only give you a limited supply of chips and your competitors will kill you on price and volume. They are like the mafia in business suits.

    The European commission made a estimate of the damage Intel did to the market and it came to $60 billion. I would like to see that much gi
  • Back when apple was talking about going to x86 amd was kicking intel's ass.

    They even had better dual cpu systems vs the intel ones with FB-DIMMS and a poor bus with a weak pci-e setup VS the dual amd of the time with lower cost and less heat ECC ram as well the better Hyper Transport bus with alot more pci-e lanes. The nforce pro chipsets of the time of the time had dual pci-e x16 with SLI+ 2 x4 with dual gig-e with tcp/ip off load and teaming VS the intel chipset at the time that used FB-DIMMs and had les
    • AMD was also full 64bit back then unlike intel and apple had a few apple system with 32bit intel cpus back then as well.
    • by bledri (1283728)

      ... why not go to a amd system with 2 cpus and Hyper Transport links?

      The short answer is "I don't know." My assumption was that it was some combination of:

      1. Marketing: For non-technical customer's Intel means something, AMD has less mind share.
      2. Relationship: Maybe Intel was more willing to work with Apple on future chips/chipsets. I assume they were pretty pissed about the G5 never being usable in a notebook and were looking for some guarantees that their requests would be taken seriously.
      3. NDAs: Related to above, they no doubt were given inside information on what was co
      • 4 is likely the news about the amd intel lawsuit came out around the time apple said that they where going to intel and people said that intel may of did some anti-competitive stuff to get that deal. Also soon after that dell said that they will start useing amd cpus so parts of the apple deal may end up in court / FTC report.
      • I would add to this list "volume". Apple, moreso than most other computer companies, tries to keep their product line relatively narrow, with only a few configurations for any given platform. This means whoever builds their chips needs to deliver on volume in a big way, and it's possible, if not probable, that AMD wasn't prepared to give them the numbers they needed.
    • It boils down to two things. First, Intel had the Pentium M, and were about to launch the Core (slightly improved Pentium M) and Core 2 (new, lower power, microarchitecture) lines. Apple were selling more laptops than desktop and this trend has continued. The Mac Pro is a tiny, tiny fraction of their turnover and profit - it's a showpiece, while the machine that actually sell are the laptops. AMD had nothing comparable in the mobile CPU and (importantly - one of the reasons for the switch was that Apple

  • Ever since my dad got an AMD processor when upgrading our PC in the early 90's, we've always been an AMD family. I know that right now the Core 2 Duo is better than the Athlon64 X2, but I want to keep giving AMD my business so I can do my part to help keep them from getting crushed by Intel due to Intel buying off companies like Dell.

    While I know I'd be getting a better product, I'd rather make sure my money goes to a company I support instead of one who tries to force people out of business instead of J

  • Does anyone remember (given that there is no mention of it) the skype-intel controversy - where skype used a software check to determine if the running processor was AMD and disabled certain features if it was (regardless of the processor's performance)?

    Either way, all the non built-in processors on my machines are AMD. My eee is the only computer running an intel processor - and even that wouldn't be case if I could pick. I care about performance, sure, but not as much as integrity.
  • I am not seeing the pernicious effects of Intel's "anti-competitive" behavior looking at Dell prices. J6P can buy an essentially Supercomputer class machine in the $300+ range. If I remember correctly, in a monopoly, price increases (as in gas prices ?). Why waste government resources on a product that an average person spends a couple of days wages anyway. If they really want some work, they can target Big Oil, because that IS going to cause a severe recession!
  • AMD can't compete in the market so they use government against its competitor. Who's the anti-competitive one now?
  • ...into pricing arrangements with suppliers are convinced Intel is guity. AMD IS in a position to argue claims about Intel's behavior, but anyone who thinks AMD description of Intel's business practices isn't filtered though their bias is pretty naive. You can probably take anything you read on this subject skeptically - I'd wait until FTC or other 3rd party evaluations and I certainly would not take AMD's assertions as fact until proven.

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