What the FTC Didn’t Get

Going in to this suit, the FTC asked for a number of things, and while they got many of those things in the settlement they didn’t get all of them.  The following is our list of things the FTC asked for from our earlier article, and whether they got that item under the terms of the settlement or not.

FTC/Intel Lawsuit Requested Remedies
Request Result
For Intel to be barred from paying OEMs to not use AMD processors Intel is barred from offering rebates, kickbacks and some forms of volume discounts
For Intel to be barred from threatening OEMs in to not using AMD processors Intel is barred from witholding advertising money, technical support, or chips from OEMs using AMD CPUs
For Intel to be barred from selling products below cost Intel is not allowed to sell CPUs or chipsets below the product cost
For Intel to be barred from designing or selling products that inhibit 3rd party GPU performance Intel is not allowed to make design choices that reduce GPU performance unless they can prove doing so improves CPU performance
For Intel to make reparations to customers who used their compiler not knowing that it may discriminate against non-Intel CPUs Intel is required to set up a $10 million fund to pay for customers who were mislead and wish to switch to another compiler
For Intel to to be barred from making misleading statements about their compiler and its performance Intel is required to disclose that their compiler may discriminate against non-Intel CPUs, and is not allowed to claim that their compiler is faster for non-Intel CPUs when it is not
For Intel to license the QPI and DMI buses to third party chipset manufacturers. The FTC did not get this; Intel is under no obligation to license QPI or DMI
For Intel to allow AMD and Via to outsource their x86 CPU fabrication to third party fabs Intel is required to allow AMD and Via to outsource their x86 CPU production to third party fabs so long as those fabs uphold certain IP protection requirements
For Intel to stop badmouthing competing products unless they have solid scientific evidence (primarily in the GPU space) Compilers: Yes
GPUs: No
For Intel to pay for the independent organization (Technical Consultants) that will monitor their compliance Intel is required to pay up to $2 million over 10 years for the Technical Consultants to monitor their compliance

The FTC got the vast majority of what they requested. Intel is barred from engaging in a number of anti-competitive practices, including benefits for OEMs to only use Intel CPUs, punishments for OEMs using non-Intel CPUs, from designing products to reduce GPU performance, from outright denying the transfer of an x86 license should a current holder be purchased, and from making misleading statements about their compiler.

In fact there’s really only two things on the FTC’s list that they didn’t get: they didn’t get chipset licenses, and they didn’t get stronger protections for AMD and NVIDIA’s GPU divisions.  It’s probably not a coincidence that both of these issues were primarily of importance for NVIDIA, as AMD does not make Intel chipsets and AMD is not currently locking horns with Intel over high performance computing using GPUs. For as much as the FTC got out of this settlement, it’s interesting that they did not get these last two items. It may very well be that NVIDIA has truly given up on making a DMI/QPI chipset, in which case the chipset requests would be rendered moot. But NVIDIA has claimed loudly to the FTC that Intel is hurting their business by making false claims about CPU and Larrabee performance versus GPGPU performance, and there’s nothing in this settlement about that.

It’s worth noting that NVIDIA did not release an official response to this settlement even though it has directly impacted them. There are a number of ways to interpret this, but the most likely interpretation is that the two companies are going to continue butting heads unabated. AMD and Intel may have peace, but right now it’s a safe bet that NVIDIA and Intel do not.

Final Thoughts

Wrapping things up, we’ve looked at what the FTC’s complaints were, what they asked for, and what they’re getting out of this settlement. What remains however is probably the most important question for computer buyers reading this article: how will it impact you?

The short answer is that it won’t. Computers won’t become cheaper, new Intel-compatible chipsets won’t be introduced, the forthcoming fusion of the CPU won’t be changing schedule, etc. In reality most of the things Intel is being barred from doing are things that they discontinued doing long ago if they did them at all (note that this settlement is not an admission of guilt on Intel’s part). The FTC calls these measures corrective, but outside of the compiler requirements these measures would better be described as preventative. This settlement is structured as a list of things Intel can and can’t do, and almost all of the measures are things they already have or have not been doing.

The most unexpected measure to come out of this settlement is without a doubt the “change of control” requirements. This opens the door to another company taking over one of the two non-Intel x86 licenses from either AMD or Via by buying them out, but this is by no means a given. It’s something worth keeping an eye on for now, but it doesn’t appear to be something that is going to be acted upon any time soon.

The biggest impact from this settlement will be what does not happen, and that’s a repeat of the Athlon 64/Pentium 4 situation in 2003, with Intel using their marketing muscle and underhanded tactics to limit AMD’s progress at a time where they offered a superior CPU. Now that Intel has already been through this process and the FTC will be regularly monitoring their compliance, any kind of underhanded tactics against AMD would quickly get them in trouble with the FTC with little recourse to get out of it. In spite of the corrective nature of the settlement it probably doesn’t go far enough to completely undo the damage that AMD suffered if all of the FTC’s claims are true, but between this settlement and the private AMD settlement quite a lot of requirements have been hoisted onto Intel.

Ultimately, is this enough to prevent anti-competitive abuse in the future? The most optimistic response is that hopefully we never find out the answer to that.

The Settlement
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  • Wurmer - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    ''I wonder what would have happened if Intel had not (allegedly) paid off the OEMs to shut AMD out of the business?''

    I was wondering the same thing a while ago. I think that in the end it wouldn't have changed the big picture but AMD might have end up in a better financial situation this allowing them to put more $$ in R&D. They had the better product for about like 2 years during the Athlon 64 era, that's a hell of a long time in the computer business. Anyways, you can speculate all we want we'll never know.
    Reply
  • cesthree - Saturday, August 07, 2010 - link

    I like my limited vocabulary, fucking fuckers.

    Intel has done nothing wrong. Evil rebate mongering corporations exist in every fucking facet of business; it's not Intel's fault, they're just playing the game and winning!

    Fuck AMD, but first fuck Nvidia for ever venturing past GPU's. Intel needs to keep them AWAY from DMI and QPI. They totally FUCKED up 939, AM2, and 775 with their piece of shit NF4-7 bullshit, especially 775.

    If a motherfucking software patch can enable SLI on ANY motherboard that has the electrical capability, because it is totally possible, then Nvidia can go get fucked and never engineer another motherboard, PLEASE.

    AMD, well if they don't like being outcompeted by Intel, then stop making CPU's and chipsets and just stick to the ATI bullshit. Maybe if they weren't fucking around with bullshit CPU's and chipsets they could get a Catalyst release that didn't suck-off 100 donkeys simultaneously.

    Fuck.

    That was a last fuck for good measure you fucking fuckeddy fucks.

    Don't tell me you don't like the cursing or that it offends you; you know you like it Shit Fuck.
    Reply
  • rscoot - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Despite your obvious troll, perhaps you are merely too young to remember when nVidia offered the best AMD chipsets on the market during a time when AMD did not make chipsets of their own. Their onboard audio solution back in 2002 is still better than 99% of the onboard audio solutions provided by intel/AMD right now, it's too bad they had to drop it on the nForce 3's because of cost issues.

    And maybe it's just me, but I remember my nForce 4 SLI board working quite well with my manchester 939..
    Reply
  • cesthree - Sunday, August 08, 2010 - link

    Ok, I was a bit drunk when I posted that last bit; but you've still helped me prove my point.

    Yes, I had two NF4 boards. One DFI LP UT NF4 Ultra-D and one Asus A8N32SLI-Deluxe. The DFI is my current HTPC. Couldn't agree with you more. The only reason I bundled NF4 in is for Nvidia's garbage software patches preventing SLI for running on any setup; the NF4 was guilty of that too.

    Do you see it now?

    One stupidly obvious point is that neither of those boards had QPI or DMI on them. Well, not exactly.

    Still not catching it?

    The IMC and pretty much everything else that needs to be stable was already designed and packaged on the physical CPU. (no, not 754 and before, but those NF2-3 boards were good for what, on-board sound is what you're telling me? Maybe they were good OC'ers, but AMD didn't shine until 939 and then only for a minute.)

    Let me tie it together for you now.

    That's the same as, you guessed it, the i3/i5/i7 CPU's that Intel has today.

    The NF4 series worked fine, because Nvidia couldn't screw up what was designed by AMD. Mostly I am talking about the communication of the major parts in an x86 design: CPU, RAM, IMC.

    No wonder Intel wanted Nvidia not designing parts to do those jobs. The Nvidia 775 IMC controllers were trash aside from hand selected boards given to review sites.

    Maybe it was just the EVGA 775's I had; I've never like their BIOS releases.

    If Intel is shady so is Nvidia, and so is AMD. The only reason anybody is looking at Intel like they are, is because they are on top. If AMD or Nvidia were on top, they would be the one's answering to the FTC.

    Nothing any of us can do about it. Besides, AMD should be glad they have lasted this long after getting their start on Intel's coattails.
    Reply
  • ClagMaster - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Silly Troll Scumbag. Being drunk does not excuse you for the worthless profane remarks about nVidia chipsets.

    Nvidia chipsets were really meant for AMD parts. Nvidia chipsets for Intel parts were an afterthought that I believed did not recieve the same level of attention and testing as those for

    I myself have used nForce 2 400 chipset with a nicely overclockable AMD XPM-2500.

    I have also used an nForce 4 chipset with an Optron 175. Built in 2006, it still runs fine today.

    I have been satisfied with the performance of both chipsets. What I was not satisfied with is the poor construction of motherboards associated with AMD chipsets. Since 2004, this has markedly improved.
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 09, 2010 - link

    Is there a full moon or something tonight?

    The trolls are really coming out of the woodwork... comments on AT are usually very civil.
    Reply
  • matt b - Thursday, August 12, 2010 - link

    Ryan, I read that Anandtech is still looking into the performance of Intel compiler with non-Intel chips.
    Here is Agner Fog's updated blog where he describes how Intel compiler treats AMD chips, and Intel dishonesty to him about it in 12/30/09. http://www.agner.org/optimize/blog/read.php?i=49#4...
    Intel's newly released beta June 2010 of its Math Kernel Library v.10.3 is still crippling AMD processors.http://www.agner.org/optimize/blog/read.php?i=49#1...
    Agner says that he is working on a list of software and benchmarks that are crippled on AMD processors due to the Intel Compiler or libraries.
    From a year ago at ArsTechnica, PCMark05 memory performance increased 47% by changing CPUID from VIA to Intel.
    http://arstechnica.com/hardware/reviews/2008/07/at...
    Reply
  • matt b - Thursday, August 12, 2010 - link

    Note they allege that Cinebench is compromised by using Intel compilers. Until Cinebench responds, I think that Anandtech should quit using it.

    64. Several benchmarking organizations adopted benchmarks that measured performance of CPUs running software programs compiled using the Intel compiler or libraries. Intel’s deception affected among others, the Business Applications Performance Corporation (“BAPCo”), Cinebench, and TPC benchmarks.

    67. Intel publicized the results of the benchmarking to promote sales of products containing its
    x86 CPUs even though it knew the benchmarks were misleading. For example: ...
    Reply
  • saifikhan - Sunday, August 15, 2010 - link

    Buy AMD based laptops and notebooks/netbooks ! Let the dealer know that you're interested in AMD. Unfortuntately in India, one can still see HP selling underpriced Intel laptops with overpriced AMD laptops. eg here. Compaq Presario range http://is.gd/eiUXo , Essentials http://is.gd/eiV0n and EliteBook http://is.gd/eiV20

    The same sad story repeats with Vostro, Acer, Sony, Benq laptop models in India.

    AMD is offering a large number of Notebook processors, please see the list here http://products.amd.com/en-gb/NotebookCPUResult.as...

    thanks
    Saifi.
    India.
    Reply
  • davidri - Friday, September 03, 2010 - link

    "In reality most of the things Intel is being barred from doing are things that they discontinued doing long ago if they did them at all (note that this settlement is not an admission of guilt on Intel’s part)."

    Uh, ok... then why was Intel sued by the FTC and fined by the European Commision and going to be under such scrutiny and regulation by the FTC for years to come??!!

    There is probably a whole crap ton of other despicable and undermining business practices Intel could be held accountable for that no one but top Intel execs know about.

    Big B.S.
    Reply

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