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Wright Comments on FTC's Pursuit of Intel Re: Graphics Chips

While the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has spearheaded an attack on Intel's sales practices for central processing units (CPUs), its more recent allegations concerning the company's potential antitrust behavior for graphics processing units (GPUs) might be attributable to the FTC's need to be seen as doing something new, according to Professor Joshua Wright.

"It would be really hard to sell the public on expending resources to take Intel through administrative proceedings when it had already paid over a billion dollars to AMD," said Wright, a former scholar in residence at the FTC, referring to Intel rival American Micro Devices in his statement.

One of the primary areas of focus for the FTC's lastest allegations concerns competition for chipsets in Netbooks. Intel uses its Atom integrated graphics product to power its netbooks. The FTC alleges that Intel charged PC makers higher prices for using a non-Intel GPU and offered bundled pricing only to those who would use the Intel chipset rather than a competitor's product.

A second area on which the FTC complaint focuses is Intel's February legal filing that forced competitor Nvidia to stop development of chipsets for Intel's new "Nehalem" processor technology. 

FTC pursues Intel on new front: Graphics chips, CNET News, December 16, 2009. By Brooke Crothers.

Excerpt:

"To date, the antitrust actions of regulators worldwide toward Intel have focused on sale practices for central processing units, or CPUs, a market over which the company has fought heavily with Advanced Micro Devices. On Wednesday, however, the FTC spelled out a litany of allegations about Intel's alleged anticompetitive behavior in the market for graphics-processing units, or GPUs, in which Nvidia is a major player.

"Nvidia is the world's leading supplier of 'discrete,' or standalone, graphics chips but takes a distant second place in overall market share to Intel, which supplies 'integrated' graphics built into the chipsets that accompany all of its processors. Mercury Research estimates the total market for graphics chips, including integrated graphics, at almost $10 billion in 2009."

 

 

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