Today, the FTC decided to go after Intel for what characterized as anti-competitive practices, this follows in the wake of the EU’s $1BN fine and Intel’s equally expensive settlement with AMD. Most of charges are similar to those already litigated in Europe, with the additional charge that Intel is trying to prevent NVIDIA and others from competing in the market for onboard graphics controllers. The surprise is a complaint relating to Intel’s compilers and how they intentionally hobbled AMD processors (see ). This charge surprises me on a number of fronts:
- I don’t see how it’s Intel’s job to write compilers that produce optimal code for AMD processors, surely that’s AMD’s job.
- The vast majority of commercial code on x86 architectures is compiled using either Microsoft’s Visual C++ or the GNU C compiler (AKA GCC) so even if the allegation is true, I don’t see it would impact commercial or open source software.
- The only place where you would typically use Intel’s C compiler would be to produce highly optimized code for benchmarks, and surely nobody from AMD would use Intel’s compiler for this purpose.
I’m not surprised that the FTC has taken this step, having been at Intergraph when they fell out with Intel in the 1990s I’m well aware that Intel plays hardball. The question is whether what Intel has done is anti-competitive, or simply competitive. Anyway, this should make for an interesting story next year.
Posted by: Nik Simpson