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Intel Software

Intel and Skype Exclude AMD 492

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-you-can't-beat-them-take-away-all-their-friends dept.
Raenex writes "CNET is reporting that Intel and Skype have signed an exclusive deal that would cap the number of conference call members on all but Intel architecture. Skype will only offer 10-way conference calls on specific Intel chips while other chips, including all AMD chips, will only offer 5-way conference calls. From the article: 'Though few would argue that a niche feature like that is going to be a deal breaker for most PC buyers, the importance of the Skype-Intel alliance goes well beyond VoIP conferencing. Indeed, it's the latest, and certainly most prominent, example of Intel's new take on marketing: Lock in software partners as well as the PC makers.'"
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Intel and Skype Exclude AMD

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  • Low Blow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kickboy12 (913888) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:21PM (#14710640) Homepage
    To allow more conference calls to users who are using a specific CPU is a cheap shot at the market. It's not fair to chip makers, and definetly not fair to the consumers.

    Gatta start watchin Intel's sucker punches.
    • Re:Low Blow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:25PM (#14710695) Homepage
      I agree. I think they should do a speed test on your processor and if it can handle the load, then the feature should be enabled. Disabling a feature because you don't have a specific brand of processor is kind of low.
      • Consider how this may have happened:

        An Intel marketing person thought this was a good idea. He is one of those who knows nothing about technical things; he's just a marketing drone. What could he possibly do to advance the strength of his company? Nothing. So, to pretend that he was contributing he turned to evil. He made a deal that looks good to other know-nothings like himself, and is really, really offensive to the people who matter.

        This is a violation of the anti-trust laws, I think.

        New Intel mottos:

        Intel: When you can't compete, be adversarial.

        Intel: We're on the way down.

        Intel: A technical company controlled by people with no technical knowledge.

        Intel's present adversarial behavior is part of a gradual decay of the company that is more than 10 years old, in my experience. Perhaps 10 years ago, Intel arranged a pay cut for employees just before they began to do record business. During that time, Intel has done some really, really disgusting things, like trash their consumer products division by not paying enough attention to it.
    • Re:Low Blow (Score:4, Informative)

      by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:27PM (#14710718)

      Gatta start watchin Intel's sucker punches.

      You mean you're only beginning to watch now?

      This is just the latest round in Intel's ongoing anti-competetive war against AMD [theinquirer.net].
    • If you uninstall Skype from a Windows machine, it directs you to a survey page that asks you why you are uninstalling and invites you to provide comments. 1 of my machines is Windows, so I filled out the survey and explained that I was uninstalling it because of their policy to only enable certain features on Intel processors. Under Gentoo it's as simple as emerge -C skype, they don't ever even find out about that. Anyone using Windows should immediately uninstall the program and fill out the survey. Ma
  • OS X (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CMiYC (6473) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:24PM (#14710667) Homepage
    I haven't read the articles, so I apologize if this has been stated already. Is there news if these "enhancements" applies only to Wintel systems? Or will Dual-core Mactel systems get the added benefits too?

    The Skype OS X client is already somewhat lacking compared to its Win-counterpart.
  • by XorNand (517466) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:24PM (#14710677)
    Heh... In five years Skype is going to be as relavant as Napster is today: a historial footnote to a great idea that could have been much more. The dot-bomb hangover is finally fading and there's a resurging interest in funding Internet-based technologies. Some people have called it a "new boom". VoIP is far and away the biggest reason for this new boom. New VoIP providers are coming out the woodwork because the industry finally matured enough to standardize on SIP as the defacto VoIP-standard. Vendors are cranking out interoperable SIP hardware, which allows us (as part of a recent VoIP startup) to rapidly roll out services without having to second guess whether we're using the right tech. Open standards makes things cheaper. It makes it easier to find, hire and train knowledgable engineers. Etc, etc... Skype, however, is still locked into a propietary protocol. Compare the history of the CD to that of the Minidisc to see difference that open standards makes. Like Napster, the only value of Skype in five years will be the brand name.
  • Devices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:24PM (#14710679) Journal
    I'm going to make a wild guess that Intel is not thinking about ye olde PCs, but devices. VoIP is the next thing, and they want to make sure all those appliances are running Intel chipsets.

    Cisco has a good start on them though - but not the software, that's Skype.

    This is going to be an interesting field to watch for the next five years.

  • Are they crazy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:25PM (#14710681) Journal
    Whatever the merits of AMD's existing anti-trust complaints, there is no freaking way this isn't an anti-trust violation. It's completely artificial and a clear loss to consumers. Seems odd that Intel would voluntarily give out ammunition like this.
    • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:34PM (#14710789) Homepage Journal
      Whatever the merits of AMD's existing anti-trust complaints, there is no freaking way this isn't an anti-trust violation.

      Yes, there is one way. I had the exact same thought as you did, right up until I realized something: Intel no longer has a monopoly in the processor market.

      The conclusion that then follows is: There is no more anti-trust. Just competition.

      Scary.
      • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by deviantphil (543645)

        Yes, there is one way. I had the exact same thought as you did, right up until I realized something: Intel no longer has a monopoly in the processor market.

        The conclusion that then follows is: There is no more anti-trust. Just competition.

        Actually...this behavior is called tying [aurorawdc.com]...which is also illegal.

        • Read your article. Tying is an antitrust complaint. If Intel can no longer be argued to be a monopoly, then they are free from many forms of antitrust complaints, including tying. In fact, product tying is a common strategy that small companies can use in order to gain leverage against competitors. (Such as video game console vendors tying game software with their hardware.) That's why it's important to prove that a company is in the position of being a monopoly.

          IAANAL, but it may still be possible to argue
      • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:45PM (#14710926) Homepage
        It's probably still illegal though.

        In Europe it's product tying, which has been illegal for a while - if Skype try this there they'll be sued to oblivion by AMD under these laws.

        Not sure about the US... I guess from the comments that there are no such laws there.
        • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:3, Informative)

          by McMuffin Man (21896)
          Tying agreements were made illegal in the US by the Clayton Act of 1914 (I believe this predates most European anti-trust law, but I'm hardly an expert here). That doesn't mean, of course, that anti-trust is enforced in a way which does what a non-laywer would expect based on the language of the statute. There's been almost a century for complicating and confusing case law to build up.

          Here is a pretty good site on US anti-trust law [stolaf.edu].

      • Re:Are they crazy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:12PM (#14711204)
        Intel no longer has a monopoly in the processor market.

        You got it backwards. Intel is not leveraging a (no longer existing) monopoly in the processor market to help Skype gain a monopoly in the VOIP market. Rather, it's the other way round: they are leveraging Skype's near monopoly in VOIP to bolster Intel's dying processor monopoly.

        So the real question should be: are there today any credible competitors to Skype?

    • BTW, according to Ars Technica, AMD now sells 21.4% [arstechnica.com] of all desktop and laptop CPUs worldwide. AMD's mobile chip sales have rising to 15.1 percent of the market.

      AMD's Opertron architecture finally managed to cream Intel at just the right transitional period. AMD is now leading development rather than following. I find that to be a rather shocking turn of events, especially on Intel's own property. (x86)
  • Solution.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by gasjews (941147) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:25PM (#14710684) Homepage
    Stick to open source telephony. Asterisk [asterisk.org] makes an excellent enterprise grade open-source PBX for the back end. For the end user, Free World Dialup [freeworlddialup.com] offers a SIP compatible service with a free downloadable client that does not limit you like this.
    • Re:Solution.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arivanov (12034)
      With all due respect Asterisk is not an end-luser solution. Administering it and configuring it requires some mental effort. This limits it to a fraction of the Internet population.

      Skype is a an end-luser-only solution. This makes it the solution of choice for the rest of the Internet end-luser population until a better alternative comes along.

      As far as the "limit conferencing to 5" this is quite an interesting twist. Conferencing is clearly a business feature. Very few consumers are interested in it. At th
    • I can definately assure you, being a leading supplier of Digium gear (Digium being the guys who wrote Asterisk) and being the leading wholesaler of VoIP gear, Atacomm hears about problems non-stop with Asterisk. 1.2 has been very buggy; they had a date-related bug last month that killed hundreds if not thousands of PBX systems.

      Enterprise it is not; maybe someday, but its not there yet.

  • wha? (Score:5, Funny)

    by God'sDuck (837829) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:26PM (#14710704)
    does this mean Intel is actually actively trying to chase off all the geek customers that were just starting to consider not despising them again when the Yonah benchmarks came in? or did some middle-manager just accidentally outsource their public relations to Sony?
  • Downright Disgusting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bulldozer2003 (824009) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:26PM (#14710706)
    This is a disgusting way of getting customers, it seems like there could be some kind of possible litigation considering they are making you buy one thing in order to use another. Maybe THIS is why VOIP companies should be regulated like we do the baby bells.
  • This is wrong, while Dell "recommends Windows XP" they don't do anything to block you from using and alternative OS. Likewise I can't see why people would want to buy a product that would lock them into anything, save for I can't think of many that would be swayed by "only" being able to conference with 5 people, it's more of a moral victory for Skype. Strange though, didn't see that coming.
  • by jigjigga (903943) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:27PM (#14710712)
    Haha, like that is gonna make people want to stop their migration to AMD. Although this is a scary precident, it will most likely backfire. AMD will be able to further fan the fire with this.
  • Especially when the AMD processors can out-run, out-perform, out-class the Intel Chips every day of the week.

  • Although I cringed when I read the article summary, this does underline how AMD has pushed Intel into a corner and I for one will feel a lot less sorry for Intel when they get crushed by AMD. ;-)
  • by Chuck Milam (1998) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:28PM (#14710724) Homepage
    From TFA: "Would you avoid buying a PC with an Advanced Micro Devices chip inside because it wouldn't let you host an Internet conference call with six of your friends?"

    No, I wouldn't avoid buying a PC with an AMD chip. I pretty much buy all AMD now, and I plan to continue. I would, however, be sure to not use software that tries to dictate to me what type of hardware I use. I wonder if this will backfire on Skype?

    • by bigpat (158134) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:40PM (#14710871)
      I wonder if this will backfire on Skype?

      Don't wonder. I recently signed up for skype, just because my family was on it and it was free. But I think it may be time to think about alternatives. Thing about a free service, it is really easy to walk away when they do stupid things like this. I can't possibly see why skype thought crippling its software would be good for business. And it really makes me think Intel is on its way out if they can't compete anymore on the merits of their products, but have to conspire with other businesses to exclude competition.

      It is a sad day for those two companies.
  • by shadwwulf (145057) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:28PM (#14710733) Homepage
    Asterisk. [asterisk.org]

    It does conference calls really well and is not just free as in beer.

    Corporate stupidity isn't always a bad thing. It's just a matter of letting them shoot themselves in the foot and then reaping the benefits of their pain.

    MTW
  • Stupid move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artemis67 (93453) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:29PM (#14710742)
    It only opens the door for Skype's competitors to gain a foothold by not instituting such a silly restriction.

    It also turns into bad PR for Skype for the tech community to find out that Skype intentionally hobbles their software.
    • You make a good point. I would wager that a significant portion of Skype's customer base know a fair amount about computers and networking. And exactly the kind of customer that will leave in a heartbeat when they see this sort of tactic.

      At the same time, I am certain that Skype management is very concerned with making money. I'm sure that money coming from Intel more than offset the potential cost of lost customers.
    • Re:Stupid move (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dustmite (667870)

      Because Skype was one of the early VoIP services, they have network effects [wikipedia.org] working in their favour (e.g. I "have to" use Skype because all my colleagues/friends and even clients already use it - it will now be quite difficult to switch in fact). I'm sure they realise this, I think it's already made them a bit lazy compared to their competitors, but I think they overestimate their position - there aren't that many Skype users yet that that a [new] competitor couldn't outgrow them. According to my Skype clie

  • ...Microsoft trying to bury Netscape in the browser war. But Netscape eventually spawned Firefox, which now stands to hit Microsoft where it hurts. AMD may be pushed to the brink by Intel, but once it's clear that they might die, they will suddenly find themselves free to follow new directions. Intel may be sowing the seeds of its own destruction.
  • Skype must be getting ready to put some nails in their own coffin.

    "Wait, you mean to tell me that I can't get as many people on a conference call because I bought the wrong brand of CPU two years ago? Looks like I'm going to another service. Bye."
  • So, when will the over-achieving programmer come up with a method, on a per process basis, that will make the kernel calls report a different CPU based on which process is asking?

    Skype asks "What kind of CPU are you" - kernel reports Intel.
    mplayer asks "What kind of CPU are you" - kernel reports AMD.
    • They just issue a CPUID command. That's damned hard to fake... of course with the virtualisation stuff on the horizon you could easily do it but not with current processors.
  • by MoogMan (442253) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:34PM (#14710792)
    ... This is what you get for using a closed, proprietory technology. Use SIP (or H.323) and you're not going to get any of this "10 user max" limit crap.
  • It's plainly self-harmful to Skype to make such a deal, since it opens up their market to competitors; they've made themselves weak on AMD platforms.

    Unfortunately, Skype lacks real competition, so they can do this.

    They need a viable competitor; right now the market isn't free, because people lack choice of provider, so the provider can get away with stuff like this.

  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:37PM (#14710836)
    AMD has better and cheaper desktop chips and they keep gaining market share keeps on rising. If a user has an AMD chip and Skype will only support a 5 way conference call on AMD then I'd imagine the user would probably look to another VOIP solution instead of lookinf for a new PC with an Intel chip. It's a stupid move for Skype.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOSPAM.beau.org> on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:38PM (#14710843)
    Ok, if we are going to have anti-trust laws on the books, now would be a perfect time to use them. If this isn't anti-competitive behaviour then let he who holds that position define what is.

    This is on a par with Ford and Exxon agreeing that unless you are burning Exxon gas your Ford's engine will be capped at half it's rated horsepower.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Skype relies on float-point inaccuracies to optimize compression of the voice streams. Since AMD features accurate floating-point math, only 5-way conferencing is supported, while Intels inaccurate floating-point math can support compression of 10-way conference calls.
  • I'm sure that as soon as it's released that the offending code will be found and patched by someone, or someone will write a program that will fool the program into thinking that it's Intel and not AMD.
  • by kclittle (625128) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:41PM (#14710887)
    Intel has announced a deal with 3D Realms that Duke Nukem Forever will only run on their Viiv IV platform. Said Intel CEO Paul Otellini, "2009 will be a great year for us, I can just tell!".

  • Stupid Rabbit! Tricks are for kids! I mean really, this is a stupid move for Intel. Do they really think that most computer users know or care who makes the cpu in the box? This will just end up being a headache for users and Skype as people complain when they run into this stupid artificial limitation. And the people who actually know and care who makes the cpu will be annoyed by Intel's heavy handed tactics and Skype's shortsightedness. This is just lose lose all around. When will tech companies realize t
  • So, given these practices, I get I can now see why they lowered the "e" in the logo... It's a stylistic hint at their lowered ethical standards.
  • by Marsmensch (870400) on Monday February 13, 2006 @05:46PM (#14710940)

    A lot of people are commenting that this is harmful to skype, but I'm not so certain. After all, Joe Sixpack will only know that he can conference call with all of his buddies with a intel machine, while AMD "can't handle it". The whole concept of software limitation is totally incomprehensible for the majority of the non-slashdot crowd.

    AMD better start a massive PR campaign RIGHT NOW to make this backfire on Intel and Skype.

  • I am just waiting for Libjingle to be finished up and find its way into all the popular Jabber clients, and servers. Once done we won't need Skype!
  • Ok, when I had a Pentium II 366 in a laptop a year or two ago, I was able to do VoIP Calls with Yahoo Chat and we had many more the 10! Why limit it at all?? Limiting it by CPU??? I'd imagine that the SEC would like to hear about this...
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't AMD now account for > 50% of new desktop sales? Perhaps business sales are metered separately, but I rather doubt that many business PCs run Skype. It seems like this is a bad move for Skype on many levels.. Not only do they look crooked but they now have alienated greater than half of new PC owners from making full use of their service.

    Also, feel free to give Skype a piece of your mind. They deserve it. http://www.skype.com/feedback/contact/ [skype.com]
  • I can either:

    a. Buy a more expensive, lower power CPU for my PC and tell 9 buddies simulataneously about it

    or

    b. Buy a more value for money CPU for my PC and tell 4 buddies about it

    Nope, still gonna buy AMD - try harder Intel.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:24PM (#14711356)
    So now they have to start to use monopolistic lock-in practices to gain and retain customers.

    It's the sign of a company that is falling behind in their core markets.

  • Intel optimizations (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kaldaien (676190) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:29PM (#14711403)
    If you actually read the article, as part of the deal, Intel plans to optimize the code for their processor. Intel is paying money to optimize the third-party Skype code for their chips, presumably utilizing SSE3. Though, I don't know why the deal extends to Duo chips only - I could understand if Intel had to optimize the code to efficiently utilize Hyper Threading, but Duo chips have two discrete cores; perhaps they're taking the shared cache into account, but AMD's dual core chips have a shared cache too.

    If the code were optimized for SSE3, it would only run on recent Intel chips to begin with. I did not read anywhere in the article that said Intel paid to exclude AMD from approaching Skype to optimize their code for "AMD64" (x86-64). That said, the number of phone calls allowable should really be licensed on a per-CPU/core basis. If Skype honestly believes that Intel Duo chips with Intel's optimizations are truly twice as efficient as AMD's dual core chips, a license for 10 calls should be available for quad core AMD products. I have never been a fan of licensing by the number of CPUs, specifically disabling features if a host machine has fewer than X processors, but it has been in use for years.

    It's absurd to assume that a machine with fewer than X processors/cores or of a slightly different architecture is not/will not be powerful enough to run suchandsuch a feature within a product's lifespan. They said that the exclusive 10-way calling feature will only be exclusive for a limited time, however. It may be in recognition that AMD64 chips will eventually be able to outperform even SSE3 optimized Intel code, if they cannot already.
  • Work around (Score:5, Interesting)

    by snakecoder (235259) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:31PM (#14711434)

    How hard would it be to create a dll that overrides getCPUId() and put that in front of skype's library path.

    This really seems like a foolish way to conduct business.

    "We don't offer you more, but we beat our competitors down with a stick so they offer you less"

  • Anti-Trust? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Temsi (452609) on Monday February 13, 2006 @06:54PM (#14711690) Journal
    IANAL but isn't this a clear case of two corporations conspiring to push out a competitor?

    I mean... I guess the more appropriate question would be: "is this legal?" which of course begs the next question "can they get away with this even if it is?"
    Or would this be considered "unethical but technically not illegal"?

    Whatever it is, it smells really bad, and is IMHO a terrible PR move.
  • by pat_trick (218868) on Monday February 13, 2006 @07:07PM (#14711816) Homepage
    Leave feedback on their product at their feedback page [skype.com]. Tell them that you're not going to support it due to their business decisions to lock features to a certain part of the market.
  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Monday February 13, 2006 @07:09PM (#14711830)
    This is a stupid partnership, as there is just no reason at all to do it.

    This is like some cars going faster on certain roads (ignoring speed limits here of course, I'm talking capability). Maybe one 'supported' platform for tech support, but why would anyone possibly want to tie an application to a specific processor? Who knows what the road may bring.

    Next: Games that run on ATI-only video cards versus NVidia

    -M

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