Though the latest lawsuit filed by the US antitrust regulator against the chip maker Intel may take a while to conclude, analysts say it could result in a sales boon for rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). In a complaint filed on Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that Intel engaged in a "systematic campaign" to block competing products from entering the marketplace. It also alleged that Intel deliberately engineered internal software to slow down competitors' chips.
"Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly," said Richard Feinstein, the director of the FTC competition bureau. "It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits." Intel could face a large fine or be prohibited from engaging in certain business practices. The result of the legal action could also affect AMD by allowing its products to operate to their full potential, making them more attractive to prospective buyers. "What is being alleged here is that irrespective of that kind of optimisation - they've deliberately made it so if they [detect] AMD processors [they] make it run more slowly," said Chris Ingle, the research director for the European consultancy IDC.
"There's a large boundary, however, for optimising features of your own processor and deliberately deoptimising some features of other processors. That's why this could go on forever. Intel could presumably say it has optimised for its own processor, which it is entirely entitled to do." Intel said the FTC case was "misguided" and based on claims the regulator added at the last minute and failed to investigate.
"[The case] is explicitly not based on existing law but is instead intended to make new rules for regulating business conduct," Intel said. "These new rules would harm consumers by reducing innovation and raising prices." Intel agreed last month to pay US$1.25 billion (Dh4.59bn) to AMD to settle wide-ranging legal disputes that included antitrust and patent licensing issues. Mubadala Development, the strategic investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, is the largest shareholder of AMD with a stake of almost 20 per cent.