By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm
Last month, Intel and AMD settled their differences with an agreement that ended the long-running legal battle between the world’s largest CPU maker and its much smaller rival. Today, Intel is in hot water with an organization far more powerful than AMD: the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is suing the company, accusing it of abusing its dominating market position to stifle competion. And the most interesting parts of the FTC’s list of complaints involve not CPUs but GPUs. Which is not a market that Intel controls in the least–Nvidia and AMD dominate discrete graphics, and Intel was recently forced to indefinitely delay its Larrabee GPU. But the FTC says that Intel makes it difficult for PC manufacturers to choose Nvidia or AMD graphics options by charging them higher prices for CPUs than if they opt for Intel’s less powerful integrated graphics.
Here’s Intel’s response to the suit, in which it says it was on the verge of a settlement with the FTC, and that it’s the victim of a rush to judgment.
I don’t know enough about the backstory to have an opinion of the specifics of the FTC’s charges, and I like free markets more than government interference, but this I know: Consumers benefit when there are multiple healthy competitors in a category. If PC manufacturers make technology decisions based primarily on fear of Intel–which is what the FTC claims–it’s not good for anybody except Intel.