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INTEL cripples programs on AMD chips (Lawsuit)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Just saw this today...

INTEL LAWSUIT

And HERE

Lowdown...

Intel cripples programs on AMD chips

"Intel has designed its compiler purposely to degrade performance when a program is run on an AMD platform. To achieve this, Intel designed the compiler to compile code along several alternate code paths. Some paths are executed when the program runs on an Intel platform and others are executed when the program is operated on a computer with an AMD microprocessor. (The choice of code path is determined when the program is started, using a feature known as CPUID which identifies the computers microprocessor.) By design, the code paths were not created equally. If the program detects a Genuine Intel microprocessor, it executes a fully optimized code path and operates with the maximum efficiency. However, if the program detects an Authentic AMD microprocessor, it executes a different code path that will degrade the programs performance or cause it to crash."

"The British offices of computer chip giant Intel have been raided by EU competition officials as part of a series of swoops across Europe, it was confirmed today. The US-based processor makers offices in Swindon, Wiltshire, were searched yesterday alongside those in Milan, Madrid and Munich as part of a long-running European Commission investigation into alleged abusive market practices."

"Among the other issues raised by AMD were:

- That Intel used illegal subsidies to win sales and, in some cases, threatened companies with "severe consequences" for using or selling AMD products.

- That Intel has allegedly abused its dominate market position by forcing major customers into exclusive deals in return for outright cash payments, discriminatory pricing or marketing subsidies."

This has got to have some major ramifications for Apple if they decided sometime in the future to go with AMD processors.
Maybe Apple were given an "offer" that they couldn't refuse when deciding on which processor to use in future Macs?

Waddya think? \
post #2 of 22
While Intel may be hit in Europe, with the current administration there's virtually NO likelihood of Intel being hit in the U.S. Why do I think that? One work, Microsoft. They got off Scott-free. So, for once, maybe a monopoly will actually help Apple.

- Dave Marsh
iMac Intel 27" 3.4GHz, iPadĀ Air 64GB, iPhone 5 32GB

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- Dave Marsh
iMac Intel 27" 3.4GHz, iPadĀ Air 64GB, iPhone 5 32GB

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post #3 of 22
If you want to really see some of the amazing stuff that Intel has been doing (and by "amazing"... I mean it actually makes Microsoft seem "not so bad"), check out the actual suit. Intel hasn't even bothered trying to hide it.

The whole suit is interesting to read... but if you want to just get to the good part... start mid-way down on page 15 of the PDF HERE

It seems Apple is jumping in bed with what could be considered the Microsoft of the processor world. That was one thing that always separated Mac fans from PC fans... pride in the hardware and the OS. There were no monopoly players in the Apple world. Now... if you want to buy a Mac in the future, you're going to have to get an Intel processor... whether you like them or not. Oddly enough... in the PC world you'll still have a choice. I'm wondering if Intel's tactics played a part in Apple's decision to go with them. Sure there are lots comments on AMD's ability to produce the volume that Apple needed... but there was certainly no (as in zero) reason that Apple couldn't offer an AMD processor as an alternative. I'm kind of not liking this whole move to Intel thing now. Not that I have a problem with their processors... but with the company.
post #4 of 22
just for the record, the claims of about the compiler aren't necessarily examples of anticompetitive behavior. different processors have different architectures, period. its true when comparing different intel processors to each other, and also when comparing intel procs to AMD procs. Intel procs and AMD procs just happen to use (mostly) the same ISA.

here is where the compiler example is flakey:

a compiler converts a high level language into machine language. what is 'optimal' machine language depends on the design of the processor that will run it. A good compiler will be aware of the performance characteristics of the processors it is compiling for. if intel is trying to wring the most performance out of compiled code, the compiler would have to optimize for a specific processor. However, by optimizing for a specific processor, another processor's performance could be adversely effected, or worse, by using processor specific instructions, say, that are only on the Pentium4, the compiled code would not run on, say, a Pentium3 or AMD design.... unless:

the compiler creates multiple optimized versions of the code, for different processor architectures.

bingo, this is what they did. now, follow the train of thought. The compiler now makes - optimized for Intel versions of the code (or parts of the code), and AMD/Other/Safe versions. When the code is run, at runtime a check determines which code path is to be taken. now, follow it further: intel wants to get the most performance out of its chips. so, more and more optimizations are made to the intel special case. the compiled code runs faster on an Intel chip then on an AMD chip. is this unfair? intel makes a compiler - so can AMD - so does Microsoft, as well as the open source community. nobody is forced to use an intel compiler. Just because intel made a compiler that gets the most performance out of its chips, but produces code that also runs on other chips, doesn't mean intel is playing dirty, not by a long shot. Not only that - but a compiler emits code that conforms to an ISA, and the ISA itself says nothing about the performance of the instructions. it is the implementation of the ISA that determines the performance characteristics of the instructions. For intel to be spending any effort (effort = money) learning the details of AMD performance characteristics, so that their compiler can produce optimized for AMD code is ludicrous. making the call that intel is trying to make AMD look bad is really iffy.

unless. unless the intel compiler is going out of its way to make the generated code run poorly or incorrectly on AMD chips. what is "out of its way" mean?

Unless conscious thought was spent to determine how to degrade performance of generated code on AMD chips, Intel was playing fair with the compiler. Proving conscious effort was made to make AMD look bad would be very, very hard. Yet, i am certain the courts will not grasp any of this anyway.
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post #5 of 22
The compiler issue aside... it would appear that they are still left with plenty of cases of anticompetitive behavior as outlined in the suit. It was really just reading the blurp about the compiler that drew my attention... it was reading through the suit that had the biggest part in drawing up my opinion.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
While Intel may be hit in Europe, with the current administration there's virtually NO likelihood of Intel being hit in the U.S. Why do I think that? One work, Microsoft. They got off Scott-free. So, for once, maybe a monopoly will actually help Apple.

Actually, I see this as the perfect time for AMD to file this suit. Lawsuits such as these drag out for a long long time, and AMD could get 2 chances to make it--one from this administration, and one from the NEXT administration.
post #7 of 22
Since when does Intel have to create a compiler that optimizes for AMD? Why would they even have to SUPPORT AMD at all? If I were Intel I'd just cripple AMD compiling altogether and let AMD deal their own compiler.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Wondering
Since when does Intel have to create a compiler that optimizes for AMD? Why would they even have to SUPPORT AMD at all? If I were Intel I'd just cripple AMD compiling altogether and let AMD deal their own compiler.

As far as I can tell, that's not what is happening, Intel is jigging it so the compiler makes the software run WORSE on AMD.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Wondering
[B]Since when does Intel have to create a compiler that optimizes for AMD?

Since they signed a cross-licencing deal with AMD, circa 1976.


Quote:
Why would they even have to SUPPORT AMD at all?

They don't. But when they do, they should not deliberately cripple their software so apps can run slower.

Quote:
If I were Intel I'd just cripple AMD compiling altogether and let AMD deal their own compiler.

If you were Intel, you'd get your ass sued. Just as they did.
'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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post #10 of 22
I doubt the efficacy of the arguments. Unless Intel is selling chips for less than cost (illegal dumping) and giving blatant kickbacks, vice paying handsomely for "Intel Inside" badging cross marketing, the illegal practices will be really hard to prove in court. Doesn't mean anyone non-Intel will like them, but it will take years to litigate for probably little or no actual illegal findings.

AMD is resorting to filing and instigating litigation to make up for a series of ungodly bad marketing and management moves that have left it gasping in the marketshare department.

How successful was the last big series of cases like this? Well who really likes their Sun shares today???
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post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Hiro
I doubt the efficacy of the arguments. Unless Intel is selling chips for less than cost (illegal dumping) and giving blatant kickbacks, vice paying handsomely for "Intel Inside" badging cross marketing, the illegal practices will be really hard to prove in court. Doesn't mean anyone non-Intel will like them, but it will take years to litigate for probably little or no actual illegal findings.

AMD is resorting to filing and instigating litigation to make up for a series of ungodly bad marketing and management moves that have left it gasping in the marketshare department.

How successful was the last big series of cases like this? Well who really likes their Sun shares today???

Boy, do you have a lot to learn about anti-competitive practices.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Hiro
I doubt the efficacy of the arguments. Unless Intel is selling chips for less than cost (illegal dumping) ...

It can't be illegal to sell below cost, can it? The whole game console market does it.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Joey
...... That was one thing that always separated Mac fans from PC fans... pride in the hardware and the OS. There were no monopoly players in the Apple world. Now... if you want to buy a Mac in the future, you're going to have to get an Intel processor... whether you like them or not......

whoa. i am disturbed by the accusations of what Intel has done, and good that it is brought to light. however, umm.. if i wanted to buy a Mac in 2000-2005, i pretty much had only two choices: ibm g3/g5 or freescale g4. a duopoly is a virtual monopoly
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by sunilraman
whoa. i am disturbed by the accusations of what Intel has done, and good that it is brought to light. however, umm.. if i wanted to buy a Mac in 2000-2005, i pretty much had only two choices: ibm g3/g5 or freescale g4. a duopoly is a virtual monopoly

For the people who do not think of Apple as a Monopoly (OK a small one) or that Apple does not engage is sordid practices, just look at they way the resellers have been treated.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by RBR
For the people who do not think of Apple as a Monopoly (OK a small one) or that Apple does not engage is sordid practices, just look at they way the resellers have been treated.

No doubt, Apple is certainly no goody two shoes. But on the other hand, at least they ship to resellers, unlike Dell.
post #16 of 22
Well, the reason Intel can't say "screw compiling for AMD" is the nature of the product. It's not as though AMD is making incompatible CPUs. Do you think AMD would try to NOT optimize for Intel's compiler, knowing full-well that every software developer uses it? AMD is out there testing their CPUs on software designed to run on Intel systems, so chances are they discovered this bug while testing their CPUs. The problem here is that Intel gets to decide what the compiler does. When you look at video cards, the standards are decided by APIs like OpenGL and DirectX, not by actual GPU makers like ATI or nVidia. ATI and NV get to make their own drivers, but the end product must support the API. Since Intel gets to make the compiler, they potentially hold an unfair advantage over their competitors. If they make AMD use their own compiler, it makes AMD less appealing to software vendors, because now an entire second compile is needed to support another CPU. Instead of offering a unified platform with hardware choices, you get one CPU maker dictating the standards of how software should be optimized. While Intel used to do this alone because there was no competition, perhaps it's time that AMD and Intel get to collaborate on the compiler. Perhaps AMD just wants to change how the software performs when "GenuineAMD" is detected. It could be the best way to optimize both architectures.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by RBR
Boy, do you have a lot to learn about anti-competitive practices.

Riiiggghhhttt. Can you say USA vs. MS? How many years and no real resolution. Now the EU is caving under the power of the appeal. And how many cases like Sun's or the school system's have they faced and been fined via forced distribution of coupons? Let's heart it for legal victories that force MS to print more money. Like this is going to be any different.

I checked my ersatz idealism a long time ago and began learning how to work the system and recognize which fights were worth the effort. Erin Brockovich stories are exceedingly rare and usually so clear cut from the beginning that the Erin's are supposed to win despite the nearly insurmountable hurdles. This one ain't one of those. Comparing that to messy corporate vs corporate shareholder soulless fights just doesn't tilt the Karma scale out of the "Don't Give a S**t" range".
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post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Gon
It can't be illegal to sell below cost, can it? The whole game console market does it.

Different markets. All the console makers other than Nintendo have done it for a time, but in the end the overall product does make a profit. The temporary losses are also not sheer loss leaders designed to put a competitor out of a market, but plays by everyone to amortize the equivalent tax writeoffs for the R & D earlier in the product cycle than they can if they just spread it out over a longer period. Bean shuffling by accountants more than anything else.
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post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Hiro
Different markets. All the console makers other than Nintendo have done it for a time, but in the end the overall product does make a profit. The temporary losses are also not sheer loss leaders designed to put a competitor out of a market, but plays by everyone to amortize the equivalent tax writeoffs for the R & D earlier in the product cycle than they can if they just spread it out over a longer period. Bean shuffling by accountants more than anything else.

you know growing up i knew i didn't want to be a lawyer because i knew it wasn't about justice.

funny only in the past few years having to do my own taxes and some business income sales tax stuff i am realising that accounting has nothing to do with financial 'truth'. it is creative in a way, but with quite a lot of risk, no?
post #20 of 22
Consoles are different markets, but there's also no monopoly there. Monopolies have to play by different rules. Nintendo has a virtual monopoly in portables, though. If they were to sell their Gameboy at a big loss at the expense of a portable competitor, then that could raise a red flag.

The problem with antitrust law is that there is no definitive line that says "you're a monopoly", and that breeds situations like this, AT&T, MS, etc. where lawsuits are filed and companies get punished retroactively, rather than avoiding anti-competitive behavior it in the first place.

There are some lines in the laws that describe a monopoly (i.e. power to exclude competitors or control pricing), but there's always legalese to work around those things, or they're at least able to come up with an argument to claim that they do neither.

But it seems that by that point, the cost of the lawsuit and settlement are worth the billions they make as a monopoly, and more or less accept it as an expense if they have to.
post #21 of 22
To some extent the game consoles are sold on the razor blade model. You sell the handle for very little and make it up on expendibles (the blades). In this case the console is a delivery device for the games they sell in great abundance. By keeping the entry price for the consoles at a point that encourages people to get them, instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting, the companies make it up on the many games they sell you to go with it.

They also are pricing the units based on expected average costs of the unit over its sales life ("long run average cost") and as we all know the costs are higher when a unit is first produced and fall over time as the production volume of the components rises.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Hiro
Different markets. All the console makers other than Nintendo have done it for a time, but in the end the overall product does make a profit. The temporary losses are also not sheer loss leaders designed to put a competitor out of a market, but plays by everyone to amortize the equivalent tax writeoffs for the R & D earlier in the product cycle than they can if they just spread it out over a longer period. Bean shuffling by accountants more than anything else.

So what's the difference to Intel then?
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