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Intel and AMD Settle Antitrust, Patent Lawsuits

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the mr.-otellini-tear-down-that-wall dept.

AMD 165

Kohenkatz writes "Intel has agreed to pay $1.25 billion to AMD. In return, AMD will drop its lawsuits about patent and antitrust complaints. The two companies released this joint statement: 'While the relationship between the two companies has been difficult in the past, this agreement ends the legal disputes and enables the companies to focus all of our efforts on product innovation and development.' The press release also says, 'Under terms of the agreement, AMD and Intel obtain patent rights from a new 5-year cross license agreement,' and that 'Intel and AMD will give up any claims of breach from the previous license agreement.'"

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Only $1.25 Billion? (5, Insightful)

mantis2009 (1557343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072758)

Seriously, this number seems low to me. The pending suits against Intel alleged that for a decade Intel conspired to freeze AMD out of the market. Intel poisoned nearly all of AMD's potential customers. Surely that cost AMD a lot more than just a billion or so dollars in lost revenue.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (3, Interesting)

Paeva (1176857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072808)

I imagine that AMD has quite a bit to gain from the cross-licensing provision. In fact, they both do. I wouldn't be surprised if they're both worried about competition from mutual rivals such as ARM. This could be a big win for both in that regard.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (5, Interesting)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073078)

Possibly; however, if it ever came down to an all-out litigious patent war, AMD may well have come out on top thanks to holding the rights to the x86-64 instruction set. It's not clear that AMD gets any real benefit other than getting to put the whole dispute behind them. I suspect that the real advantage that AMD gets out of this is the admission from Intel that they were engaging in illegal business practices. Intel has agreed to stop blocking AMD from OEM sales and will probably honor it considering that they've just admitted to bad behavior.

It looks to me like AMD thinks that they can compete based on their products despite the disadvantage that Intel has put them in through illegal means. I just hope that it means we get to see some chips from AMD that once again provide a much better performance/cost ratio than the Intel chips.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (5, Insightful)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073450)

I just hope that it means we get to see some chips from AMD that once again provide a much better performance/cost ratio than the Intel chips.

AMD processors are still beating Intel in the performance/cost ratio. They have been falling behind Intel on performance benchmarks alone, but the cost is cheap enough to make AMD a clear winner when comparing performance and cost.

I'm looking forward to the time where they once again provide better performance than Intel while also toting a cheaper price tag.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073828)

AMD processors are still beating Intel in the performance/cost ratio.

Only if you ignore Intel processors which cost more than $200, right?

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074302)

AMD processors are still beating Intel in the performance/cost ratio.

Only if you ignore Intel processors which cost more than $200, right?

That doesn't seem right. The best performance per dollar isn't processors that cost over $200 each. The best performance per dollar is normally one or two models back from the bleeding edge which is currently CPUs like the Phenom II X4 955 for 175 dollars retail.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074604)

Some people have a higher standard of performance and a higher budget. Although it might not be the best performance per dollar in ALL price ranges, the upper end Intels will give you the best performance per dollar if you're budget allows. Not only that, the performance changes per the application. I'm not gonna buy a $400 computer just because it has the best performance per dollar ratio of all computers made if it can't run the software I need it to.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Interesting)

darien (180561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075500)

"the upper end Intels will give you the best performance per dollar if you're budget allows"

That's simply not true. The Core i7-975 costs more than three times as much as the i7-920, but it performs only around 25% faster. Or are you talking about some other upper-end Intels?

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (3, Informative)

mesterha (110796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075278)

AMD processors are still beating Intel in the performance/cost ratio.

Only if you ignore Intel processors which cost more than $200, right?

The best AMD (Phenom II X4 965) is about on par with the i5 and they cost about the same. As the CPU gets faster the price performance gets worse for Intel CPUs.

To be fair, if your buying a whole system that extra CPU cost becomes less significant. An i7-860 might be worth it if it increases the cost of the system by at most 30%. Even an i7-960 can be OK if it increases the price by at most 60%. Given that a good AMD computer costs maybe 600 then the i7-860 is probably worth it, but the i7-960 is overpriced when you factor in the motherboard.

Of course, Intel wouldn't have such good prices without AMD, so in the long run it's good to support AMD. Also most people don't really need the extra speed. If you need a new machine then a midrange AMD for around 500 is probably your best bet.

If you are really concerned about speed then just use the money you save to upgrade more often. Given Moore's law, on average, you'll have a faster machine (or at least a machine with more cores.) Also, when just upgrading, the AMD price/performance gap gets even better.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074770)

And even then... since when is most desktop performance limited by the CPU any more? I bought a quad-core Phenom II for under $200 a couple months back. I have yet to feel limited by CPU speed. I mean... I have been transcoding my DVD's to insanely high quality H.264 at over 40FPS. If I transcode to an iPod format with handbrake, it'll hit over 300FPS. Why would I need to pay over double for a higher-performing i7, especially since the i7 will require new RAM and a motherboard, whereas the Phenom didn't?

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30075882)

* Fair enough, if you don't mind the TDP on AMD chips

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Informative)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073468)

AMD stock is up 23.3% today... Roughly the cash settlement amount... Markets seem to think its fair...

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073796)

Yeah, and we all know how knowledgeable and good at running companies the stock market are!

Short term profit, hype, speculation and guesses has nothing at all to do with it :D

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074146)

When AMD first started releasing x86-64 processors, they were beating Intel in price and performance. I think that is why Intel started to resort to the tactics that they did.

AMD can't beat Intel on top performance these days because they keep falling behind on new fabrication processes. However, price out a comparable low to medium end AMD system with an Intel system, and you'll find that not only is the processor cheaper, but so is the motherboard.

AMD can still claim advantages at certain price points. Now, it just so happens I am really pissed at AMD for a string of defecting products I've gotten from them, combined with terrible service, but I think people overlook that there are reasons to purchase AMD.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074820)

That's too bad about your experiences. I've gotten at least 6 CPU's from AMD (original x2's though to my current Phenom II quad-core), as well only buying ATI graphics cards recently. Haven't had a single problem, even with open-box items. Maybe it was the motherboards you were using? Every problem I've ever had with AMD stuff has always come down to a bad motherboard.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Funny)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075592)

Haven't had a single problem, even with open-box items.

Every problem I've ever had with AMD stuff has always come down to a bad motherboard.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0, Flamebait)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076156)

I build a lot of systems for people. I've been using AMD since the K6 line. However, my current desktop I went with a Dragon platform.

I got a Phenom II X4 940, a 790GX board, and a Radeon HD 4850 (Saphire).

First off, I can't get the box to see 4 sticks of DDR2 1066. My buddy literally built the same hardware off my recommendations, and he ran into the same issue.

All 4 sticks work fine individually. All 4 memory slots work fine individually. I can get the 4 sticks to work together on an Intel board (I borrowed a work PC to test).

I swapped the motherboard for another brand, and has the same problem. I went to a better power supply and had the same problem. Then I see a bunch of people posting on AMD's forums about a specific bug with the 940 not handling 4 sticks of 1066. Tons of people are reporting this. I call AMD tech support, who keeps cutting me off to insist there is no way possible that the processor can affect the memory.

I keep telling them the processor contains the memory controller. But there is zero way the processor can be responsible. Tech support starts yelling at me. I call back the next day, and get the same answers. Even worse, they insist I must have cheap memory. I bought Kingston. They insist it must be my motherboard. I thought them I'm on my second motherboard from another manufacturer. The only consistency is that they both use AMD silicon for the chipset. Again, AMD Tech Support told me there is zero chance they could have anything to do with it, and they wouldn't consider swapping the proc.

Even worse, the second rep told me that AMD doesn't recommend buying parts from Biostar, Foxconn or Kingston. They said Kingston memory isn't on their approved list. Kingston for crying out loud. Way to throw your partners under the bus!

Combine that with my first Radeon HD 4850 (built directly by AMD/ATI via Sapphire) was DOA. My second one has also stopped working. (It only works in VESA mode, but never when a driver is loaded in XP x64, Windows 7, or openSUSE. Apparnetly hardware acceleration is completely busted on it).

Next, I have 4 SATA drives in RAID 1 with 2 logical drives. My first logical drive says there is a failure. Yet, Seagate diagnostics can't find a problem with the second drive. I RMA the drive regardless (at a cost of $20 to me!) and put a second drive in. There is no option to rebuild the array, nor does it happen automatically.

I call AMD again (the AMD name is all over the RAID tool on their chipset) and they say they don't make the RAID tool, again, despite it saying Copyright AMD all over the place. I call Foxconn who say it is just part of the chipset they get from AMD, and they won't support it.

I call AMD back who insists I must destroy the LD, and recreate a new one. I explain that defeats the whole concept of a RAID if I can't rebuild/repair it. And they say they have no knowledge of their own RAID tool.

I did end up wiping the logical drive, but I'm pissed. I bought a second power supply that I didn't need, which didn't fix the issue. I've swapped parts left and right. I still can only use 2 sticks of memory, and now my second video card is dead. ATI won't do an RMA directly (thanks for that) and NewEgg won't let me do a second RMA from the same invoice. I just ate $160 on a dead card.

And again, AMD tech support has been nothing but rude to me, treating me like an idiot. I'm a fucking Systems Engineer. I also build at least 10 rigs a year for family and friends. Bad products plus even worse support is a bitter pill to swallow.

Even worse, Foxconn and Biostar both independently told me they have also noted that the 940 does in fact have an issue where often it can't recognize 4 sticks of 1066. Asus also had a note on their site about it. And tons of users reported on the AMD forums. But again, AMD refuses to own their issue and do anything about it. I'm pretty pissed to the point that I may boycott AMD, even if it means buying from Intel, who is guilty of anti-competitive practices.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074478)

Possibly; however, if it ever came down to an all-out litigious patent war, AMD may well have come out on top thanks to holding the rights to the x86-64 instruction set.

Actually no. Intel sued AMD for patent infringement and the case was settled back in 1995. The end result of that was patent cross licensing but the agreement was asymmetric. AMD have to pay Intel a license fee for all the Intel patents they use but Intel does not have to pay AMD.

http://news.zdnet.co.uk/hardware/0,1000000091,39146227,00.htm [zdnet.co.uk]

Because of the details of a lengthy 1995 legal settlement between Intel and AMD, Intel can in all probability create and sell chips that are completely compatible with AMD's Opteron and Athlon 64 chips, which can run both 32- and 64-bit software, according to the companies and legal experts. Intel won't even have to pay AMD royalties if it incorporates ideas from any AMD patents into its chips.

"My understanding, based on the licensing agreement, is that Intel has access to AMD's patents so patent protection should not be a problem," said Richard Belgard, a noted patent consultant.

Intel may have to rename some of the instructions, or commands, embedded in any chip that is similar to Opteron, but "the code can be 100 percent compatible," Belgard added.

Though Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy declined to comment on whether or not Intel is working on a 32/64 bit chip, he concurred with Belgard.

"There are no legal barriers" that would prevent Intel from coming out with a chip that is similar and compatible with Opteron, he said. "There are no pitfalls either way."

An AMD representative stated: "I believe that is the case," but added that it would all depend on the circumstances.

Here's the key point

Under the terms of the settlement, both companies gained free access to each other's patents in a cross-licensing agreement. AMD agreed to pay Intel royalties for making chips based on the x86 architecture, said Mulloy, who worked for AMD when the settlement was drafted. Royalties, he added, only go one way. AMD does get to collect royalties from Intel for any patents Intel might adopt.

AMD also agreed not to make any clones of Intel chips, but nothing bars Intel from doing a clone of an AMD chip, Mulloy added.

While the terms may seem one-sided, AMD has benefited from the agreement as well. Without the clean and enforceable right to make x86 chips granted by the agreement, AMD would not have been able to produce the K6, K6 II, K6III, Athlon, Duron, Athlon 64 or Opteron chips without fear of incurring a lawsuit.

So Intel already have a right to use x86-64 license free.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Silverfish (33092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075174)

Since the business practices are left "unspecified", Intel is certainly not admitting they were engaged in illegal business practices.

One has to wonder if this settlement isn't partly spurred on by the apparent chilly reception software patents received at the In re Bilski case the other day. I can't say I know a lot about either Intel or AMD's patent portfolios, but both companies make a substantial amount of software. If a large portion of both sides portfolios wind up being nullified, AMD's antitrust claim may be the only thing of significance left between the two cases.

Intel worries that they'll have little or no claim left against AMD, and AMD knows full well that you can't really predict how the Supreme Court will decide just because they had some hard, pointed questions for one side, so suddenly it seems like a great time to bury the hatchet.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074100)

ARM is a threat if Apple adopted it, or if Linux took off big-time. However, Windows 7 isn't being ported to ARM, because then all your existing software wouldn't work on it. Every single Windows developer on the planet would need to release ARM ports. For better or worse, we're stuck with x86 for some time to come.

The only time/way I see this changing is if Windows decided to break backwards compatibility with their previous API and apps, build a new API from the ground up, and at the same time port to a new archit ecture. They bundle in an emulator to run old apps that emulates both the API and hardware.

That is a minimum of five years out, if it happened at all.

Not to mention, if the market moved to a different architecture, what stops AMD from developing processors for that architecture?

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30074864)

Nothing at all. But they will have to adapt and get to it. And lets say the marked moves to MIPS or PPC or ARM(or we get a bizzaro multi segment), those are licensed for the most anyhow. The point for AMD/Intel will actually be to catch up on those "new" arcitectures, but I guess that will take a year at the most.
But I pray that x86 is dead sooner or later, as its already dead. All the evolution is barely anything at all.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076026)

ARM is a threat if Apple adopted it, or if Linux took off big-time. However, Windows 7 isn't being ported to ARM, because then all your existing software wouldn't work on it.

The WinCE version of Win7 has probably already been ported to ARM b/c there are way too many ARM based PDA/cells/etc that MS wants to target. In fact, every version of WinCE can run on the ARM processor; and developers can (if they choose) port it to other architectures as they get ALL the Windows source code. Of course, they typically end up limited in software for their devices but they usually provide all the software for the devices any way...so it doesn't really matter.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076220)

That isn't exactly the same issue because you're not running Half Life 2 on your phone. You're not expecting to take your desktop apps with you, and mobile apps are ported to ARM processors.

The issue isn't that Microsoft can't port Windows 7 to ARM (though apparently it took years to port Office to x86_64 for crying out loud), but that they won't, because it will break every piece of Windows software out there.

Apple did manage to emulate their old processor on top of x86 with Rosetta or whatever it was called, but they had fewer apps to test and support, and it killed performance. Why would Microsoft tell everyone to go to ARM to make all their existing apps to break, or run like shit? Microsoft is having a hard enough time getting people to run x86_64.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072842)

Of course they lost more in revenue than that. But did they lose more in profits? Perhaps. There's also the possibility of access to patents that they did not have before, though this seems to be a pattern wherein around the end of the cross-licensing agreements, AMD sues (or threatens to sue) Intel, leading to some media stories and eventually an agreement, from which AMD seems to get more practical use than does Intel.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (4, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072864)

Intel poisoned nearly all of AMD's potential customers.

Yeah, you can bet I bought a Core 2 Duo after what happened to my coffee when I was researching a Phenom II...

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072874)

my thoughts exactly. I'm sure there is more to it than that from what I read of the business practice requirements.

Also, I suspect this won't stop the antitrust investigation in the US, either.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072924)

Q: How did you arrive at this number

our SGNA expenses will decrease a bit on a go-forward basis

for us this has never been about money, it's about the marketplace, and there's no correlation between the settlement amount and anything... it's a negotiated number

what's important... it signals a new era, it's a pivot from war to pease, and we're trying oto redefine not only the path to a fair and fierce competitive fight in the blah blah blah tonality blah blah blah buzzword get this behind us and move forward in a very respectful way, blah blah blah

You can tell I'm listening to the webcast.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (2, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072944)

Hey, it may not seem like a lot but $1.25B means AMD can stop couchsurfing for a while and maybe score some new clothes or something.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (5, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072992)

As an AMD shareholder and an enthusiast who has followed this 'case' since 1999, I also think this settlement is low. I do not believe $1.25billion could bump AMD to a cash position of where it would have been if Intel had not competed unfairly. Yes, it is a $1.25billion injection of direct profits to AMD - but the cashflow through the company over the years from the marketplace to R and D would have put AMD in a much more competitive position.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

rliden (1473185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073384)

My guess is that they don't really care about the past. They care about now. $1.25Bn is a lot of money coming in especially in the current economic climate. This and the patent deals means that AMD can move forward on relevant technologies now and in the future without worrying over spending money on lawsuits.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (4, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073702)

Only recently AMD was clearing some debts for 30 cents on the dollar - i.e., the banks wanted money so bad that they allowed AMD to pay back one third of the amount they were willing to clear. AMD didn't have much spare money though, so they didn't clear much.

Imagine if AMD has another such offer on the table from their banks - they could clear far far more than the money they got from Intel. Getting the money now could have an overall net benefit greater than letting such a deal expire and getting a bit more from Intel in a couple of years. Never mind the interest payments they'll save paying them off now rather than in the future, even if there is no such deal.

I think putting everything behind them, getting freedom to manufacture as they like, and having a level playing field with the OEMs (sadly at a time when AMD's offerings aren't the shiniest) is more important to them.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073004)

AMD has gained more rights however, none of that rubbish about having to use their own fabs. They can now spin off their remaining GlobalFoundries ownership if they need more cash.

Intel still has the $1.5b fee to pay in the EU.

And I think they've annoyed the US too, so that will probably be investigated and lead to a massive fine.

$1.25b for AMD, without fabs, is a lot of money. Maybe they will be able to hire more open-source driver developers...

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0, Troll)

Disgruntled Goats (1635745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073820)

Maybe they will be able to hire more open-source driver developers...

Why should they have to? Wasn't the community going to pick up the specs and source code offerings and write the drivers all by themselves and that they would be magically awesome in no time? Oh wait, that never happened. The freetards just bitched and moaned and cried because they were unable to write anything good and demanded that AMD do all the work for them.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (5, Insightful)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073048)

Except that this is 1.25 billion dollars that AMD need make no sale to acquire. No materials costs, no QC costs. No manufacturing losses. Why should AMD (or anyone else) be concerned with revenues lost? They're only a way to secure profits. This is much closer to a billion dollars of profits, which is far more valuable than a billion dollars of revenue.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (3, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073880)

good point, I don't know what AMDs profit margins are but if they are 20%, this $1.25B would be worth $6.25B in revenue.

I thought the 5 year term was a rather short period for this kind of business where it can take that long to bring a new design from drawing board to production. In a way, I hope it doesn't give either Intel nor AMD any fire power against ARM. I'd like to finally see another hardware platform enter the desktop segment first. ie, I'd like to see ARM get a foothold before they really see viable competition. They are doing quite well in the handset segment and are due to enter the netbook segment this fall. Success there will open the door to move up the chain into the laptop segment by this time in 2011 via multi-core systems.


Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073998)

Indeed. Not to mention that this is a MUCH needed injection of cash for AMD in a time when they're struggling a bit. Not on the precipice of dieing, but they certainly could use some operating cash to help. $1.25 billion will help there tremendously - and if Intel actually does behave (I'm skeptical, but we'll see) then they may have a chance to actually make a good go of things again.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074262)

Is it $1.25 billion of pure profit? How much has AMD spent fighting this battle to this point?

How much more would they have to spend to continue fighting the battle? I would assume the risk/reward factor would say the smart move would be to finish what they started at this point and reap a MUCH LARGER settlement for their troubles. They've no doubt lost many more billions in lost sales over the past decade plus.

Combine that with the future value of market share, and we're talking about a huge shift.

The only way it makes sense to take a small settlement now is that AMD can't afford to keep fighting, even if it is the right thing to do.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076038)

Well, if you'd read the comment you were replying to, you'd notice I said it was "closer to" a billion dollars of profit. Which is already allowing for a quarter billion (yeah.. 250 million) of legal fees. So no, not 1.25 billion dollars of pure profit. Perhaps not even an even billion. But since they don't need to consume materials, qc, market, ship, warehouse, or otherwise mess with products or services.. yeah.. its a lot closer to pure profit than anything short of net income. I'm not even contesting that they've lost more than that figure in sales over the past decade. So fucking what? AMD isn't concerned with their revenues, except that they're the first step in generating profits. Reduce those billions of dollars of estimated revenues by the expenses AMD would have incurred in earning them. That is the figure to be concerned with. It isn't one I can calculate with the information I have.

You might assume that the risk/reward factor would say the smart move would be to finish the suit and reap a much larger settlement. All you'd have to do is keep paying the expensive lawyers in the mean time. Oh yeah, and wait on the legal system. In the mean time, they don't get any money. Money later isn't the same as money now. If you think it is, I'll happily let you give me every cent you can scrounge up now and pay you back the whole amount next year. Not to mention that if they take money now, they can use it to design newer, better hardware now and start working on increasing that marketshare you said was so valuable. Waiting years to finish a legal battle means postponing the use of those funds to grow their marketshare even further.

So I'll assume that the people who actually are going to receive the billion+ dollars, who know what their profit margins really are, and are aware of the costs of delay and uncertainty really did weigh the risks versus the rewards and figured this is at least as good as they can expect. Because I'm pretty sure that any company that can make a credible claim on their lawsuit for that many figures has a few coins left to continue fighting.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073198)

nice readeing, thanx

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073280)

The anti-trust suits against Intel were/are mostly going to go to the EU, with appeals and legal wrangling AMD probably decided 1.25bn now would be better than an optimistic 2.5bn in 8 years when they've become the new SGI.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073352)

I don't pay attention to all of the legal details every time Intel and AMD fight in court, because they fight a lot. This is always what happens: a new cross licensing deal and some money exchanges hands. How much money is right? I don't think anyone knows. Less than the amount that it would take to kill either one of them, but more than enough to save face for the other.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074010)

To win a lawsuit, you must be able to last to the end of the lawsuit. Winning a multi-billion dollar lawsuit helps little if you are under Chapter 7 bankrupcy.

Sometimes, as much as it sucks lemons, it's in your best interests to take the offer for pennies on the dollar rather than duke it out.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074018)

Not to mention Intel has already been found guilty in other countries. I think that Intel had good reason to suspect the same might happen in the US. Intel did get off light.

I assume AMD took the deal because they have been hemmoraghing money for some time now. They needed a cash influx and couldn't afford to fight a legal battle much longer.

The sad thing here is that the end lesson is that illegal, anti-competitive practices can be quite beneficial. The US government overlooked them, even when a bevy of vendors testified on AMD's behalf, despite Intel threatening those vendors. Intel profitted not only in the immediate dollar sense, but also in gaining massive market share.

Yet the US threatened to go after Google if they had a search partnership with Yahoo. That is an evil monopoly that must be quashed (but it would be fine if Microsoft purchased Yahoo, swallowed their services, and removed choice and competition from the marketplace). None of this makes much sense.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (1)

tx_derf (1060278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075586)

At a time when cash flow is low, being able to walk away from the immediate cost of pursuing the lawsuits really helps AMD out. They no longer have to pay all the lawyers who were pursuing this case. They can use the difference to shore up profits or even invest in developing new product. I'm sure they could have gotten a lot more with a final settlement but at what cost? Now (most) everything is settled and they can shift their focus back to trying to catch up to Intel.

Re:Only $1.25 Billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30075934)

Well, that's about enough to pay the lawyers at least!!!

Laws (1)

Ivan Stepaniuk (1569563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072766)

You don't care if you have a lot of money

Re:Laws (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072900)

Bernie [wikipedia.org] might want to disagree.

(Though his money allowed him to get away with it a damn long time, eventually it didn't work.)

Re:Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073234)

Bernie Madoff had a lot of other people's money.

Re:Laws (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074092)

Devils Advocate: You'll notice what Bernie didn't have by the time the law caught up with him...

Re:Laws (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072912)

This is independant of action that the US government would take against Intel.

Similar to how OJ was found not guilty in criminal court, but did end up paying restitution in civil court.

good thing? (2, Insightful)

ixidor (996844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072806)

but we still have to worry about intel bullying manufacturers like dell into using intel only. the dropping the lawsuit, 5 year no fire period is good though...

Re:good thing? (-1, Flamebait)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073108)

I remember right before the Core Duels came out AMD was the Big Name as it made chips that performed better then Intel. So many companies were switching to AMD. Then... the Core Duo and the Core 2 Duo came out which were better chips and companies switched back. If AMD had better chips then Intel couldn't bully the Dells as a good replacement is available and then Intel would be back to begging for business.

Re:good thing? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074324)

Better in what way? Better in top performance. Sure.

However, when comparing performance to cost, and other mitigating factors such as some of the benefits of having a built-in memory controller, cheaper motherboards, etc. it makes sense to build and sell AMD systems.

What AMD needs to do - and quickly (5, Interesting)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072948)

is to get its shit together Fab-wise. They've been leading Intel for nearly 10 years in developing or deploying new tech and architecture
but Chipzilla has always been able to keep abreast because of their fabrication prowess.

Now that Intel's Nehalem architecture has all of the elements that AMD has been delivering with the Athlon and its descendants,
they're back to being the budget brand.

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073120)

Chipzilla has always been able to keep abreast because of their fabrication prowess

Well that helps, but also due to the anti-competitive tactics that Intel used against AMD.

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (1)

cheezedawg (413482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075886)

Well that helps, but also due to the anti-competitive tactics that Intel used against AMD.

Fab capacity more than helps- its main factor in the success of a semiconductor company! AMD was self-admittedly fab constrained for the entire period when they had a performance advantage over Intel. They were selling every chip that they made! The limits on their success during this period had nothing to do with what Intel did or didn't do- AMD did as good as they could have given their anemic manufacturing capabilities.

You can't blame Intel for AMD's crappy manufacturing history. AMD made several very public missteps with regard to their Fabs, ranging from high profile delays in opening new Fabs to that whole UMC debacle (where Hector Ruiz proudly declared that AMD no longer had to build any Fabs anymore only to see the deal fall through a year later). You can't blame that on Intel.

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073142)

AMD doesn't have fabs anymore... they spun that division off, remember?

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073930)

So what? Look at AMD's pathetic roadmap which was released recently. Global Flounderies will not be making 32nm products till 2011. Intel will already be on its second 32nm product (SandyBridge) in 2010. It's noe even a contest in desktop processors above $150 price point. And all notebook products (where Intel is so gonna own the market from Arrandale onwards).

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074346)

Color me stupid, but why doesn't AMD strike a deal with IBM who does routinely manage to get their fabrication processes put together in a reasonable matter of time.

The Cell hasn't taken off like mad. IBM lost the Apple processor deal a few years back. I'm assuming IBM could ramp up and assist AMD.

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30076138)

no ibm doesn't have the fabs necessary, in fact AMD split into 2 companies a while back the fab and the chip design/ati arm

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076312)

IBM would need to ramp up, but they are beating Intel to the 22nm fab processor on SRAM. And I thought IBM was about to start putting 40nm Cell procs in the new line of PS3s.

Again, IBM seems to be doing better than AMD in the fabrication department. I'd partner with them.

Re:What AMD needs to do - and quickly (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076158)

Let IBM make CPUs for desktops and notebooks and see how intel likes it. Maybe AMD should get IBM to make the CPUs for them?

AMD was smart to take the money _now_ (2, Informative)

Laxator2 (973549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072976)

The European Commission has set an example by fining Intel 1.45B. No US court was likely to award much more than that. AMD can make much better use of the cash now, rather than a few years down the line. And Intel can do without being continuously accused of cheating. Rest assured that the agreement has included quite a few provisions regarding dirty play in the future, but don't expect those to be made public.

Re:Greedy European Benchwarmers (1)

xdor (1218206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073490)

Notice the EU is going after the money even after Intel and AMD settled.
Must be nice to extort 1.5 billion without having to make, invest, or risk anything.

Re:Greedy European Benchwarmers (1)

ovu (1410823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073856)

EU fines are due immediately - Intel already paid that off in full.

Re:Greedy European Benchwarmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30073910)

because EU doesn't protect AMD business but fair play on the market that benefits consumers (competition, lower prices, etc..). Shady plays undermine that so Intel was going to be fined either way.

Re:Greedy European Benchwarmers (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30075910)

Has the EU distributed the fine money to consumers yet? I suspect that the average EU consumer won't see any financial benefit from these antitrust actions.

Re:Greedy European Benchwarmers (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074082)

Yeah, but you see, we need that money to keep the French farmers happy, with over 50% of EUs budget going to farmer support and all.

This way we can dump all the excess wheat/milk/whatever onto Africa looking like we care at all while killing off the little amount of local productivity and business they have, keeping them poor and unfeed without any local crops.

Though most of their problems will be their own and their governments. ("Guess they too need more liberate gun laws!" ...)

Re:AMD was smart to take the money _now_ (1)

Ractive (679038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073684)

...but don't expect those to be made public.

...or upheld by Intel.

DOJ? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30072984)

I don't understand US law but if intel have done something worthy of an antitrust suit isn't it down to the DOJ to go after them?
Or was this some sort of civil antitrust suit?

Re:DOJ? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073254)

I think only the DoJ can open up criminal anti-trust suits, but I believe anyone can do a civil anti-trust suit. I could be mistaken, as I am not a lawyer.

Re:DOJ? (5, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073360)

I don't understand US law but if intel have done something worthy of an antitrust suit isn't it down to the DOJ to go after them?
Or was this some sort of civil antitrust suit?

The answers to your questions are in order: Yes and Yes.
If the DOJ thinks that Intel has done something worthy of an antitrust suit they can go after them (and the DOJ has been investigating Intel, so they still may). However, a non government entity can also bring an antitrust suit (although they have to demonstrate that they are in some way directly impacted by this behavior).

Re:DOJ? (2, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073620)

isn't it down to the DOJ to go after them?

Not if the Bush/Obama administration tells DoJ [eff.org] not to. Look at the pattern for the last 9 years and there's little reason to expect DoJ getting involved. As far as I can tell, these days the DoJ's main purpose in computers and communication industries seems to be to fight FOIA requests, keep cases out of courts, etc.

Re:DOJ? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076096)

The DOJ (under any administration) is unlikely to file a criminal complaint for antitrust because the burden of proof is so high (beyond a reasonable doubt). They'd have to have really solid proof.

The burden of proof in a civil case (such as the case against Microsoft) is rather low (preponderance of evidence). So the DOJ usually goes for the low-hanging fruit.

That's why I complain when people say MS was "convicted". The DOJ didn't prove their case to that standard.

Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (3, Interesting)

Lord Byron Eee PC (1579911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073210)

This still doesn't resolve a major problem in the chip industry and that is that these two companies have a duopoly on x86 and x86-64 chip designs due to patents. I'm not a patent lawyer, but I really don't see how Intel can possibly patent an instruction set (the implementation thereof, sure, but the instructions themselves?). Until these companies are forced to license to third-parties, we'll still see a real lack of competition.

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073328)

Until these companies are forced to license to third-parties, we'll still see a real lack of competition.

Forcing them to license out all the relevant x86 patents would open up the playing field, but it wouldn't be totally open. One must still pay for what will almost certainly be expensive licenses. The only way to truly open up this market for competition is just to get rid of all of the x86 patents. Otherwise, Intel and AMD will still have quite a bit of control over who they deem important enough to enter the hallowed x86 market.

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073350)

Yeah, I see it as good and bad. The good: this might help AMD. The bad: it helps no other manufacturers. I would have preferred to see the absurd idea that an instruction set is patentable, get smashed. But I suppose there's no reason for AMD to advocate that, if they can get what they want through other means, since they happen to have the advantage over Intel in this regard.

C'mon, VIA, speak up.

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073504)

I really don't see how Intel can possibly patent an instruction set (the implementation thereof, sure, but the instructions themselves?)

Technically all the patents are on implementations, but there are thousands of them, mostly covering the obvious ways you would implement any of the features, or any pair of features, or any triple of features, or any pair of features in a particular process, etc., etc. The end effect is that it's basically impossible to implement x86 without stepping on some patents, probably several hundred. Of course, many of those patents may be invalid, since they're obvious to someone skilled in the art. It's quite expensive to get that shown, though, and might not work at all, because it's hard to convince a court that something seemingly really technologically advanced is actually obvious to someone skilled in chip design.

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (2, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073586)

There is a third party. VIA

http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/processors/ [via.com.tw]

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30074108)

There is a fourth party: your mom [wordpress.com] .

Re:Now only if they would license x86 and x86-64 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30074560)

There are 4th, 5th, and 6th parties as well.

Here we go again (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073288)

___AMD and Intel have made agreements previously, only to not be happy with the results. In particular, the first time, it looked very much as if as soon as they agreed to cross-license, AMD stopped innovating and depended upon Intel for product development. Intel felt cheated.
      AMD and Intel have also agreed to stop suing each other previously. I wonder how long it will last this time.
      The good news is that for a while some lawyers won't be getting any money.

My transcript (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073338)

Jumped in a little late, here you go.

Q: So what does this mean ... in terms of ... ownership

Um uh, um uh. We have a obviously very important relationship with Abu Dhabi, global foundries is part of the vision of AMD, great thing for industry and us ... we will be implementing the agreements
the key thing here is that for AMD and for global foundries, this addresses anybody's concerns about robustness and entitlement
AMD the product company is well-poised to move ahead on its strategy in order to serve the market and be a key buzzword blah blah blah

the new patent cross-license between AMD and intel does give AMD broad rights
no longer requires global foundries to be structured as a subsidiary of AMD

Q: intel has agreed to provide business practice provisions

think of it in terms of marketplace and customer access
ability for multinational OEMs and key channel partners to have "freedom of action" and choice to differentiate offerings between AMD and intel
respect to specific practices and ground rules, the agreement... totally transparent about this, the agreement will be totally public as quickly as we can achieve that
the key points are for us that intel will not be able to condition doing business with them on not doing business with us, that's one way I would put it. they can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, delay customers from using our products, delaying companies from delaying advertising... withholding benefits from OEMs ... in the compiler business, compilers will not unfairly/artificially impair the performance of our products, we're never looking for any help, just not unfairly... intel has an obligation not to do things simply designed to hurt us
blah blah lots of repetition of buzzwords like 'ecosystem' and 'productitivity gains'

Q: global foundries separation timeline

clearly gives AMD, global foundries, and atek flexibility esp. in light of acquisition of charter, and does pave the way for merger of charter and global foundries, but no announcemnet being made, no timeline

Q: ?

We are trying to reset the relationship between AMD and intel. That relationship has been intense, emotional, and at times acrimonious for ... all too many years. The one thing that I would say that is a touchstone principle ... we are going to be fierce competitors in a free and open marketplace, we are going to be mutually respectful, we want to put this behind us... healthy, normal relationship that competitors do. you will see in the agreement fought-out procedures by which we will build relationship and trust and try to resolve our differences without spilling into the courts, into the public affairs domain. this is a start and both parties intend this agreement to be an opportunity to pivot the relationship and go forward in a very classy way.

Q: Is this only x86? No graphics etc?

I uh, um, uh, that's a complicated answer but I think the general answer to your question is yes. The suits ... have pertained to x86 processors and platforms,

there's two parts to the agreement, one is antitrust, the other is patent cross-license, broad, covers "all productS"

let me put it this way... it is an important feature of our agreement ... that we have resolved ALL disputes. on the IP side, amd and intel have had patent peace with each other since 1976. design freedom to innovate, great contributors to patent portfolio... we have now the flexibility with rights under IP agreement for full use of foundries.

Q: is the cash being deployed towards reducing debt

you now understand why we were not more specific in yesterday's meeting on debt restructuring

Q: What happens to the cases around the world, what is your expectation

the regulatory investigations etc are conducted by sovereign governments ... so the regulators will do what they are going to do
from our perspective, we are withdrawing from all pending litigation, we will be withdrawing all complaints that have been lodged with regulatory agencies
if asked, we will say that the agreement to a great extent resolves outstanding disputes between AMD and intel under antitrust laws
there are some exceptions, there are some practices that we believe are exclusionary, under the agreement ... we will continue to advocate to the regulators ... should be addressed for the health of the industry
from our perspective this agreement significantly resolves our concerns

Q: What practices aren't good?

When you see the agreement, you'll note provisions that relate to our challenges to certain practices and now intel structures its pricing, so for example we do not have agreement on intel's freedom to enter into retroactive rebates or discounts in contrast to volume forward-looking discounts
the agreement says that in the event that intel enters into voluntary settlement with organizations ... if the government proposes to include ... a prohibition against these practices, as a general matter intel won't challenge these prohibitions.
in that narrow realm there will be continued dialogue with the regulators

Q: sounds like you're not getting key things you wanted

Well, we have um uh ... the key issue for us is the conditionality. That structures or inducements or the opposite of inducements that are provided to customers are consditional ... whether customers also can deploy AMD technology ... has constrained our access to the marketplace ... and intel has agreed to desist those practices.
as to the other narrow set of practices, bear in mind there is also a decision that exists against intel from Brussels, and that intel is undoubtedly going to try to comply in good faith ... through the actions of regulators, we already have significant protection.

Q: global foundries no longer being required to be subsidiary
      does this speed up for reconciliation, are there any other requirements for this

short answer: actually qualifies reconciliation event as defined by contracts that created global foundries
does enable a speedier de-consolidation of global foundries from AMD's financials, but no timeline

Q: is the problem ramping up third-party volume, or are there others?

I don't think on this call we're prepared to go into the detailed machinery of our agreements. ...the path to reconciliation and deconsolidation is now clear.

Q: does this effectively end intel's marketing subsidy program

um, the uh, i'm not sure what you mean
(OEMs that use their products to subsidize advertising)
the rules are defined in terms of principles, our customers will no longer have to worry about benefits being withheld on the basis that they are deploying AMD technology.

Q: one more on global foundries spin

(this guy is lame)
sounds like you still need to find someone to buy the shares
(voice cuts off here, why?)

Q: not timing, just conditions

Again, this provides one major source of flexibility
(no, he's not going to answer)
you can see a path where global foundries would have customers beyond AMD.

Q: need a percentage of non-AMD customers to spon

We're delving into ... accounting rules, I'm not equipped to do. the key question is, are there continued impediments or obstacles to ... deconsolidation. and the answer to that question is no.

Q: give us an overarcing vision, how do you think the industry is going to change as a practical matter

the first thing I'll say is that the agreement is going to be transformational ... the industry isn't going to change like a lightswitch ... ecosystem consisting of people, culture, psychology... it's going to take a period of time for the market to operate in a more open fashion. But clearly this agreement opens the way towards that, and AMD ... has the opportunity to be competitive ... in the past that wasn't really the case.

It's all about choice, and competition, marketplace democracy. Customers and channel partners want choice ... to serve end-users with the technology and the value propositions that fit their needs. When we undertood all these initiatives we didn't pick a fight selfishly, we picked a fight that we believe, we knew that our customers and the marketplace wanted in terms of new ground rules ... everyone's a winner here including intel, and they should be congratulated for trying to put this behind them and to listen to everyone's concerns, as well as defend their rights, and we thing the settlement is the most rapid way to bring the benefits of fierce but fair competition ... to serve consumers. We're pretty proud of our accomplishment as leaders in the industry ... as well as what we've accomplished for our customers.

Almost sounds like a bribe to me (1)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073386)

"Here! Here! It's $1.25 billion! Just keep quiet about the antitrust thing, ok?"

Re:Almost sounds like a bribe to me (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30073666)

Well that wouldn't be anything new. In the past Intel licensed out x86 not particularly because they wanted to, but to deny a license to AMD and force it out of the market would bring the DOJ down on them like a ton of bricks.

So this is a good deal for both of them. They get x86-64 licenses renewed and keep a competitor around which they need for regulatory reasons. AMD gets a cash infusion that it seriously needs and its x86 licenses renewed.

HA!! (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074034)

That will teach Intel to try and copy Microsoft's business model.

Screw you Intel! I'm always preferred paying less and getting more and that's why I always buy AMD.

Seems a shame (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30074430)

If Intel have abused their market position, it's a shame to see them "get away with it". I suppose if they *hadn't* abused their market position then it would seem a shame that they didn't get their day in court. That said, it seems pretty unlikely to me that any substantially sized company won't have been involved in dubious activity somewhere along the line, even assuming that there was no high-level directive to do this.

In the interests of honesty, I'll note that I have a few reasons for having a pro-Intel bias - but really I think that letting legitimate antitrust complaints lapse would be bad for both companies in the long run (although practical considerations may make it bad business sense for AMD to push the case). Look what's happened to Microsoft - they achieved a monopoly and they really have gone soft and become bureaucratic. If there's a case to answer, the regulators should press ahead, even if AMD needs to concentrate first and foremost on their operation as a business.

And now a word from Sherman and Clayton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30075432)

How likely would it be that this could be considered unlawful collusion?

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