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Timeline Set for Intel/AMD Antitrust Trial 151

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the squaring-off dept.
Vitaly Friedman writes "The stage is set for the biggest tech battle in years: the antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD against rival Intel. What sort of effect is it likely to have on the industry and the consumer? From the article: 'Last year, the company filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel, claiming that their rival had "unlawfully maintained its monopoly by engaging in a relentless, worldwide campaign to coerce customers to refrain from dealing with AMD" for more than ten years. AMD has already subpoenaed computer manufacturers, retailers, and even Microsoft to provide documentation pertaining to the case. Now, the timeline has been set for the trial of the Megayear to commence.'"
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Timeline Set for Intel/AMD Antitrust Trial

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  • Megayear? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @12:54PM (#15181006)
    Megayear? Don't you mean Mebiyear?
  • This lawsuit doesn't take a Megayear as stated in this blurb.. I'll never know the results!
  • Great.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZoneGray (168419) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @12:57PM (#15181022) Homepage
    Just seems strange.... Intel is the one accused of antitrust violations.... meanwhile the lawyers for the two sides get together and agree that it will take them two or three years to figure it all out.
    • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:05PM (#15181059) Homepage Journal
      Exactly what part of "billable hours" seemed strange to you?
    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:51PM (#15181267) Homepage Journal

      Just seems strange.... Intel is the one accused of antitrust violations.... meanwhile the lawyers for the two sides get together and agree that it will take them two or three years to figure it all out.

      It's called civil procedure [wikipedia.org] and it is in place to ensure that each side gets an opportunity to bring in all relevant parties, conduct thorough discovery, and reach a decision that isn't arrived at in an arbitrary fashion. It's certainly not perfect, but if you were charged with a violation that could seriously affect your business, you'd want all the facts to be laid out on the table before a judge just arbitrarily swooped in and made a decision based on idle whim.

      Sure, lawyers make money when companies have disputes. Perhaps that's just the sad side effect of the rule of law in a complex society. The discovery process in particular takes a very long time because finding all of the pertient information in a suit involving two massive organizations, spanning a period of many years is not easy.

      Nobody wants the alternative, a society without laws, where the party that can dish out the most physical violence wins the dispute. Then again, lawyers are convenient scapegoats for all the wrongs of our society. It makes sense. After all, nobody really cares all that much for plumbers until their drain gets backed up.

      • You make an almost compelling argument. Are you a lawyer?

        The thing is, you give a sense of only two choices, and the dichotomy is false. We're not stuck choosing between anarchy and lawyers running everything. There are infinite levels of complexity in the legal system that can be simplified or eliminated, but since lawyers are currently the ones running everything, that won't happen.
        • There are infinite levels of complexity in the legal system that can be simplified or eliminated, but since lawyers are currently the ones running everything, that won't happen.

          I agree that lawyers aren't likely to be the ones to make the legal system less complex. However, I think it's a natural consequence of living in a more complex society that laws and legal procedure becomes more complicated as well. This is particularly true given that we don't live in a homogeneous society, and we value individu

          • And the two hardest professions to file a tort against is the legal profession and the mental health profession.
      • Despite Intel's alleged transgressions, AMD is kicking Intel's butt badly in the marketplace. All that's being accomplished by this suit is to settle up between the two companies on a past dispute. AMD's value won't go up much if they win, and Intel's won't decrease much if they lose. It will have NO effect on the current or future marktetplace. In fact, Intel to this day is threatening a price war, it's just that they can't pull it off they way they used to (all they're doing is dumping $50 Celerons; w
        • Intel is still a far larger and far stronger company than AMD. Intel can afford to screw up several times; AMD cannot. Dell, the #1 PC vendor, still doesn't sell a single system with an AMD chip in it. The lawsuit definitely has some merit. As far as the cost of lawyers: to a company the size of Intel or AMD, the 10 million or so they are likely to spend is not much money at all. Even SCO, who is practically bankrupt, has money for lawyers.
  • by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @12:57PM (#15181023)
    If they continue to do what they're allegedly doing, they might lose the case. If they relent a little, AMD its marketshare. At least the consumers win though.
    • As has been pointed out numerous times in other posts, the consumer will win, but the consumer will also ultimately foot the legal bill through increased prices.
    • That's one of the problems of being a monopoly that excerises illegal influence -- when you get hauled on the table you don't look good. But giving up a little market share won't fix the problem, since AMD can still get damages. If AMD does have proof of what they're allegding then it won't really matter since Intel is going to punished on prior acts not current acts. It would actually be in Intels best interest to 'relent a little' since it would go to show some reform. I've read the AMD complaint and the
      • What Intel really needs to do is ignore AMD and just do what Intel does best, produce huge numbers of good chips and use the huge numbers to lower prices. Intel has proved it has what it takes to make good chips, look at the reviews of the upcoming Conroe chips. These chips are gonna be awesome and it only gets better from there. If Intel just looks out for Intel, they won't have to worry about AMD because Intel will be making a superior product anyway. As for the lawsuit, if, and that's a big if, AMD can p
    • "If they continue to do what they're allegedly doing, they might lose the case. If they relent a little, AMD its marketshare."

      So not breaking the law is the same as getting screwed ? Nice logic. Not that Intel is necessarily breaking the law of course - the court case hasn't happened, so that hasn't been proved. But if they haven't been breaking the law, they shouldn't worry about losing the case.

  • Timeline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Metabolife (961249) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @12:59PM (#15181033)
    The trial is set to take place in 2008, don't know why this wansn't mentioned in the summary. It's hard to predict an outcome in this case. Was Intel simply using normal business sense when they tried to retain their power? It's not illegal to have a monopoly, but when you start harming the consumer things change. Did the large discounts Intel offered its customers to stay Intel harm the consumer or help? I'm sure many smaller businesses benefited from buying a certain number of (similarly priced to AMD) Intel chips to gain a discount. Isn't that creating more competition in the end? This case could set a precedent for what constitutes illegal practices by a larger company.
    • Re:Timeline (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:16PM (#15181106)
      This case could set a precedent for what constitutes illegal practices by a larger company.
      Since the case only starts in 2008, this is largely dependent on who is elected president that year. If we end up with another pro-business administration, this case probably won't have any effect whatsoever. If we end up with a more consumer-friendly administration, then yes, this could be a precedent-setting case. Of course, this all assumes that Intel is found guilty, which isn't a particularly wise assumption to make at this stage.
      • Re:Timeline (Score:2, Insightful)

        by heinousjay (683506)
        What would be consumer friendly about Intel being punished, exactly? Their product is plentiful, cheap, and ever increasing in quality, not to mention embroiled in healthy competition. I don't see how hurtitng Intel at this stage would benefit anybody but AMD stockholders.
        • Their product is plentiful
          yeah they make a lot of them. so what exactly ms makes a lot of copies of windows

          cheap
          competitors are generally cheaper.

          ever increasing in quality
          ever increasing in processing power yes but also using more power and needing more elaborate cooling to keep working.

          not to mention embroiled in healthy competition.
          hardly, AMD lacks the capactity to take the big name deals and noone else even comes close to INTEL in the pc processor game.
      • This is a private civil suit, not a government antitrust action. Why would the future occupant of the Whitehouse make any difference? The outcome of this case rests on the judge, the jury pool, and of course how strong a case AMD can bring to the courtroom.

        Actually, by far the most likely outcome will be a settlement, but the terms will be determined by the above three factors.
        • You are absolutely right. My bad. Derrr.
        • The outcome of this trial would either encourage or discourage a future White House occupant to undertaking antitrust actions. Depending on the occupant the justice department could treat this as a precedent with which to construct more cases or as a fluke.
      • pro-business (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wytcld (179112)
        You're assuming that someone "pro-business" will favor an Intel monopoly, while someone who isn't "pro-business" will favor a level playing field on which AMD (and others) can fairly compete with Intel. So here we are, in a time and place where business is supposed to be capitalist and capitalism is supposed to both thrive on and require free competition, yet it seems like a reasonable thing (to at least some of us) to say that the "pro-business" course is actually the one where competition is stifled and m
        • Welcome to the wonderful world of newspeak where words no longer mean the same things they did a few years ago.

          The US is largely considered to be a capitalist country. If you go by the defintion of capitalism it is readily apparent that we aren't. The best I can describe it is either state capitalist or possibly corporate socialist.

          Another example is the PRC. They're offically "socialist with chinese characteristics". Really, they are state capitalist.

          The key here is to notice that capitalism has a gene
      • Re:Timeline (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jimmy_B (129296)
        <blockquote>Since the case only starts in 2008, this is largely dependent on who is elected president that year.</blockquote>

        Actually, I rather doubt that. The case against Microsoft lost steam when Bush entered office because the federal government was one of the parties in the case. But for AMD v Intel, there's really nothing the White House can do to influence the result.
  • I think Megatrial of the year would make more sense in this context.

    Doesn't anybody read over what they write before pressing SBUMIT? Doh!
  • by ndogg (158021) <the.rhorn@gmail . c om> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:28PM (#15181162) Homepage Journal
    Come watch at the Court of the Mega-arena as two eternal rivals are pitted against each other in the legal battle of the century! </voice style="monster_truck">

    Will AMD take revenge upon Intel? Will Intel be crushed under years of litigation from AMD? Watch for the exciting conclusion next time on, "The Processors." <soap_opera>
  • Great News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by egarland (120202) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:30PM (#15181180)
    It's pretty obvious from the current Dell situation that Intel has tried to keep AMD out and that's illegal.

    Anti-competitive behavior hurts everyone. It hurts the customers, the economy, competitors and eventually erodes the competitive spirit of the company engaging in it.

    Anti-competitive behavior seems to be running rampant these days and its important that Intel get in trouble for it. If they get away with it sends a signal to the business community that it's ok, everyone can do it. If they get meaningfully punished it will send a signal to businesses to clean up their acts and play fair.

    The capitalist economic system requires fair competition to work properly. The computers and electronics industries have gone far away from fair competition and everything needs a real shake up.
    • What exactly is the current Dell situation? Dell threatening to use AMD processors thus Intel continuing to give Dell a price break?
      • The Dell situation as last I heard is that every once in a while dell will threaten to introduce AMD and Intel gives them a price break, at the same time Intel says they'll stop giving that price break if Dell actually does use AMD. The second part is the illegal part, you can give all the volume discounts you like, but you can't penalize based on your customer also buying from other sources. Toy's 'r' Us got in big trouble for this a while back for trying to punish toy makers if Toy's 'r' Us wasn't going t
    • It's actually not that obvious from the *current* dell situation since you can ask questions like:

      Could AMD actually supply Dell with the number of processors required?

      Is Intel bullying Dell or Dell bullying Intel at this point?

      Does Dell's recent aquisition of Alienware being used as a stepping stone into a more diverse product lineup?

      So sure, the past situation were different and more clearly anticompetitive on Intel's part. And no I'm not really arguing with the substance of your post. Like you s

    • It's pretty obvious from the current Dell situation that Intel has tried to keep AMD out and that's illegal.

      Source?

      This is one of the best I could find that says Dell sticks with Intel for simplicity of product choices, supply, and they are OK chips. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/23/dell_amd_d efection/ [theregister.co.uk]

      If AMD should sue anybody, they should have sued themselves for not being a good enough chip supplier.

      There is this company called Apple. They have made computers since the 70s with various chips in
      • If AMD should sue anybody, they should have sued themselves for not being a good enough chip supplier.

        If Dell chose Intel exclusivity based on merrit alone and not based on pricing (formally or informally) contingent on Dell using Intel exclusively then your argument holds up. This is almost certainly not the case.
      • Intel has a compiler division, AMD does not. Intel compilers generate fast code. Their compilers are free for non-commerical use. Their compilers work with Linux.

        and they put in an if (cpu not intel) then (use slow code path even if the feature bits indicate the fast one would be fine)..........
    • So maintaining exclusivity by making deals isn't illegal. What would be illegal would be manipulating the market so all top tier manufacturers don't use AMD. While Dell is by far the most well known largest direct seller of PCs they are not alone in the market and never will be.

      AMD could have countered by making similar deals with any reseller they chose. The big problem AMD had was up until the Athlon and the most importantly the AMD64 chips they did not have a marketable advantage other than price. Th
  • by drpimp (900837) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @01:45PM (#15181240) Journal
    Speaking of Dell (Dintel) and them aquiring AlienWare (AMDware), and rumored they will still be using AMD cpus this begs the question. Will Intel pressure them to convert AlienWare purchases to Intel chips in due time? On the other hand, about market share, consider that Intel puts out so many, and so catchy ads on TV that no wonder they have such a huge market share. Unless I am blind I have not seen an AMD commercial. Just goes to show so many commercials for Intel, even if I did see an AMD commercial at some point, obviously it did stick into memory!
  • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:05PM (#15181322)
    Is there really that much of a difference between using an Intel chip and an AMD chip? I know you need different motherboards and chipsets, but isn't that about it? As far as I understand, there is no difference in the applications, other hardware, etc. So the only thing you would have to maintain (as a boxmaker) is another set of motherboard specs and the BIOSes for them, and in exchange you get (today) better performing chips for the wattage. The fact that a massive organization like Dell has not done so leads me to think that Intel has been doing some arm-twisting.

    OTOH, with Apple, which likes working with as small a set of hardware combinations as possible, I can see why they would only want to maintain one microprocessor family, motherboard chipset, etc.

    So hard would it really be (financially, organizationally) for a Dell, Gateway or Apple to add the AMD chip to its lineup? Anyone have any concrete knowledge about this?
    • by Courageous (228506) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:14PM (#15181365)
      Is there really that much of a difference between using an Intel chip and an AMD chip?

      Yes. However, it has more to do with the integrated IO fabric (hypertransport) than it does with the aspects of the chip that you consider traditional duties of a chip. The AMD solution is highly differentiated from Intel in this way, although the impact to single-CPU system purchasers is minimal. AMD becomes truly distinct as a platform solution at CPU counts > 2. In this market, Intel really is being hurt by AMD right now.

      C//
      • Exactly. You don't have to know anything at all to instantly feel the massive performance difference that AMD provides over Intel on a dual CPU system. On a dual-CPU AMD Opteron we saw nearly a 100% improvement on a CPU-bound multi-threaded app (nature of the app is that it accesses roughly 1G memory in a fairly regular pattern). On Intel dual Xeons we measured only 27% improvement.

        On a non-multithreaded app the two boxes are neck and neck. The above figures are for Opteron 32 bit vs. Xeon 32 bit.

        Plus, I
    • To be honest, I think it's Dell that's doing the arm-twisting. With such a large market share, they can basically threaten to go AMD, and Intel will bend over backwards, to accomodate them.
  • by twfry (266215) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @03:21PM (#15181635)
    From the limited pieces of info I've seen, the case seems to focus on pricing.

    Basically Intel had capacity to supply over 90% of the market. They would price the first 80% of the chips high and then use "volume discounts" for the last 10% of chips sold, taking them from 80% to 90% market share. Normally this is legal.

    However, the end result was that the "volume discounts" priced the chips between 80% and 90% market share at below the cost to produce them.

    In order for AMD to get more than 10% market share, they had to compete with Intel on this 80% to 90% market share area. But since Intel priced these below cost to manufacture, AMD could not compete.

    From what I've seen Intel could be in serious trouble if this holds up because AMD could claim damages on the revenues of 10% market share over 10 years.
  • by Pass_Thru (79608) on Saturday April 22, 2006 @07:38PM (#15182406)
    My views, no flames please, lol

    So, Dell threaten to use AMD chips. Intel get a bit upset, and tries to arm twist Dell. What can Dell do here? The popular belief would be that Dell gets scared and stays with Intel.

    Really? So they can get their chips cheaper from AMD, and supposedly the consumer wants AMD chips. So Dell says *fsck the consumer* and stays with Intel. Doesn't ring true to me...

    Fact is that Dell sells a lot of PC's & Laptops, with Intel chips.... Kinda says that the consumer (at large) is happy to buy Intel based PC products, in my opinion.

    As a software engineer, not as a gamer (I don't have the spare time), I notice that Intel chip based PC's perform faster at building software under .NET than AMD based ones do. You may cry that the compiler is optimised for Intel, but am I, as a developer bothered? No.

    I count myself as a member of the consuming public, and I make my choice of PC based upon price & performance at what I want it to do. It is a tool after all. Therefor I buy Intel based PC products. Now if I was a brand enthusiast (as I am with my cars, I love Landrovers) then I would by whatever I was loyal too, regardless of the shortcomings, whatever they may be!

    Just my views, take them or ignore them as you see fit :-)

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