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AMD Is Not The “Trusting” Type

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The “Kudos & Calamities” column was the brainchild of its original co-authors, AdamTheTech and Tyler Thompson. The idea behind the column was to be able to alternate authors every week who each tackle an interesting personal topic or news headline related to technology. The column was inherited by PCM members Kram and Ryan Passey, and was eventually retired as PCM evolved into more of a blogging format.

In this week’s column, Force offers a cheer to NASA and a rundown of AMD’s anti-trust suit against Intel.  Be sure to take a look, for this round of processor wars may change the course of computer system development in the tech industry.

Welcome back!  This is our third week for “Kudos & Calamities”, and kudos to you for taking 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to read this twaddle.  No, seriously, if you’ve read this far, you’ve more then done your part.  Really!  You don’t need to read past here.  I’m not kidding; it’s really not worth your time.  You should be taking the dog for a walk.  If you don’t have a dog, you should be outside and on your way to getting one so you can walk it.

Still here?

Awesome.

For all you space rangers out there; NASA had its moment of glory this past holiday weekend when they successfully nailed an asteroid with copper slug.  A spokesperson from NASA who was interviewed on an NPR radio broadcast described it as being comparable to a gnat flying into a windshield.  NASA estimated the crater created by the impact to be about the size of a football stadium.  Somehow, I don’t think that gnat causes nearly enough splatter on the windshield to compare to this cosmic smashup.  The gnat would have put a small hole in the windshield.  In any case, hats off to NASA for a successful mission!

On a more geek-like note (if NASA’s news wasn’t geeky enough for ya), is anyone else here looking forward to the new season of Stargate: Atlantis?  Be sure to catch the opening episode tomorrow night–it looks like it’s going to be a good ‘un.

Moving right along to the lawyers, courts and Fortune 500 companies, there’s been some big news in the processor industry over the past few weeks.  AMD decided to take Intel to court, slapping them with an anti-trust lawsuit (it sounds a little ironic since AMD doesn’t trust Intel anyway, huh?)

At first glance, it looks like AMD is throwing a temper tantrum and Intel is reacting with a wide-eyed “Who?  Moi?” expression, as if they were the poor, innocent victim of high crime.  Each standpoint has their merits and faults, but it will take some digging by the lawyers and the courts to figure out who has the right of way.

Intel is being accused of unfair business practices by forcing major manufacturers in the industry to solely use Intel products through the use of monetary leverage, and threats not to use AMD’s leading 64-bit technology (or any other technology for that matter).  In some cases, if manufacturers who are married to Intel use any AMD products, Intel will drastically increase prices on their products for those companies who want to try playing on both sides of the street.

Here’s AMD’s offical PR release on their argument, as well as their <a href=”">official 48-page legal document submitted to the district court.  It certainly raises an eyebrow because what AMD is saying is that there is corporate corruption in the market, and they, of course, are being angels.  When it comes to corporate warfare, nobody is an innocent.  Political dealings will do that (which means “ka-ching!” and a fiesta in someone’s pocketbook).

The major OEMs are what AMD is complaining about (38 to be exact), but fortunately, not people who build custom rigs.  Individual builders have their free choice of brands, and there’s nothing trust-like about that.  Manufacturers such as Dell and Gateway sell *only* Intel products, so if you want a manufactured computer, you *have* to go with Intel parts.  This is AMD’s main gripe.  If Intel is found liable under the anti-trust suit, they can be fined a considerable portion of their sales.  Bottom line, it’s all about the Benjamins.

This isn’t the first time Intel has been singled out, either.  Back in 2000, a company named “Integraph” filed an anti-trust suit, but it was settled quickly and without too much fuss.  There have been other brush fires between AMD and Intel through their long history in and out of courtrooms.  This most recent big battle between the two largest CPU manufacturers in the industry is not going to be a quiet one.  It’s going to be a big and raunchy public display.

All throughout AMD and Intel’s legal history, AMD has been found baying at Intel’s door for the new standard in technology because Intel has a tendency to horde it.  That’s only part of the reason why AMD isn’t top dog in the industry.  AMD relies on third party chipsets, whereas Intel has their own chipsets to go along with their own CPUs.  This tips the scales in Intel’s favor because the processor and chipset pair provide for optimum stability and compatibility.  AMD has no magical deuce, and no ace in the hole (aside from the new Athlon 64 X2).  VIA chipsets have problems, SiS chipsets have problems, and even the AMD chipset of choice, nForce, has some minor problems.

AMD could better serve themselves by putting their money into developing technology rather trying to gain a market advantage with a horde of lawyers that even Attila the Hun would fear.  This leads me to the thought of the week: “You’d be surprised what a platoon of heartless ninja lawyers can do in favor of a position” (Black Mage from 8-bit Theater).

A good quality chipset is nothing to sneeze at, and AMD could benefit by taking a few pages out of the Intel playbook.

After all that bashing on AMD, guess what?

I’m running AMD.

(Originally published on pcmech.com)