back to article Intel hit with largest ever EU fine

The European Commission has found Intel guilty of anti-competitive behaviour and fined it over a billion euros. The Commission has ordered the chip giant to refrain from any equivalent practises in the future. It ruled the firm damaged competition by excluding rival AMD from markets. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said …

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Ash
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Shame, that

Had I known about this, I'd have avoided C2 and other Intel platforms for personal use when I upgraded last year.

My next upgrade will be AMD :)

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Coat

Just what the world needs in the middle of a recession

Yes, let's put massive fines on all our major corporations because they're 'evil'.

Then we'll all villanize them further when they start letting staff go etc.

This is simply the EU trying to pay for its massive deficit spending.

My coat is the one with shares of Intel & Microsoft stock in it.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Ash

So do you want price or performance?

AMD = better price

Intel = better performance

Its been that way for a while now , its kinda why amd are losing the market, not really much to do with what is being said here. and honestly i don't see why it should affect what you get, but be happy with your cheaper amd, my intel upgrade will perform better unless amd get there finger out of there behinds!

Oh and to the comments in teh article about Intel saying that AMD are a threat, OF COURSE THEY ARE , they are the major competitor, saying they are not a threat would be stupid.

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So the EU keeps the money

Strange that, having concluded that AMD (and, presumably, VIA and others) were the injured party in all of this, that it is the EU who will keep the money and not the injured parties. Mind you, Intel having been found guilty, I assume AMD et al are now free to pursue their own claims against them and can site the competition commissions ruling as evidence?

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@Blitz

So, how's that work then? Big corporations can get away with whatever the fuck they like as long as they can stall any legal judgement until the next economic downturn?

Very clever, I'm sure.

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Paris Hilton

Fines doesn't state evil

All it's saying is that Intel has broken the law, and are applying undue pressure on vendors to prevent someone else competing in the market.

They stepped too far over the line, and need a big spanking to make sure they realise that in the end, being bad doesn't end up making you money.

Intel will (for a goodly while) be faster than AMD, unless AMD pull another Athlon trick out of the hat where they won the speed crown for a while.

AMD will probably be cheaper than Intel for quite some time, as that's one of the things they compete with.

That's all well and good. What shouldn't happen is that Intel get to turn around to all the vendors and say "Thou shalt not stock my competitor's product, otherwise I will punish you".

Now, with Intel chastised, it's likely that AMD will get more stock to market. With that stock in market, they can make more money to put into R&D, and maybe come up with the next Athlon trick (or x64 trick), and give Intel a moving goal to aim at, making everything better for everyone on price and performance.

Paris, because I'm sure she knows something about spanking.

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Paris Hilton

Am I missing something here....

....or is the anti-competitive case against AMD for offering manufacturers a million units free of charge about to start?

Paris, because she'd never give it away for free.

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Way to go EU!

This has nothing to do with big corporations being evil. Every other big corporation in the EU must be a massive user of PCs so EU corporations are the ones who were most screwed by Intel. Plus, of course, all the EU consumers who as a group overpaid Intel way more than they would have otherwise have to pay for processors in a freely competitive market.

That's something like 500 million EU citizens (using post-expansion numbers, since citizens of Poland etc were still getting screwed by Intel even when they weren't EU members), who over the period in question will probably have averaged at least 1 personal computer each, not to mention all the business computers, probably another 500 million PCs and notebooks over the period. Given the price differential between AMD and Intel processors I would guess the overpayment was on average at least 10-15 Euros per processor (maybe less for the business deals). That means that (at a VERY rough estimate, if anyone has better info please let us know) Intel, through their uncompetitive practices, made at least E10 billion extra profit by screwing me and my fellow EU citizens.

The commissioner is right, the fine could easily have been higher

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Anonymous Coward

Erm...

"The company also made direct payments to computer makers to delay and limit release of machines with AMD inside."

Sony recently bought the rights to publish the new ghostbusters game, they have now delayed the release of the game on non sony platforms in europe, if what intel did was anti competitive doesn't it mean that what sony are doing also falls foul of the law.

Please say yes, the version i wanted ot get was the wii version, this could force the release date up!

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Anonymous Coward

@AC no 1: problem was in the P4 era

The anti-competitive behaviour was (probably) in the P4 era when AMD chips were better priced AND outperformed Intel processors - when companies are able to compete on the merits of their products, they don't have to force them upon their customers.

Corollary: if a vendor is trying to force something on you, it is probably substandard.

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@Blitz

So what would you rather have? Intel doing illegal kickbacks and getting away with it, forcing AMD to lay off staff (yes it works both ways), using it's monopoly to crush competition....

Or them to get a good kick up the arse.....

Remeber, it's not just the EU that are investigatin them, pretty much most of the world is.

It's these laws that PROTECT consumers.

imagine if Tescos set up shop in a small town. Sold all it's items for 1p. Sent every shop bankrupt, then hiked it's prices to double current levels. I guess they should be allowed to do it, after all there's a recession on....don't want Tescos to lay off staff...

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@Coward

Perhaps if Intel didn't take these anti-competetive measures AMD would have more money to develop faster chips.

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@Blitz

Oh noes, the EU is evil commies.

Yeah, them and the US Federal Trade Commission who also have Intel under investigation, guess they are commies too. And the Japanese - they found Intel guilty and fined them too. Commies all.

Its funny how when the EU does something right like this, its attacked just because its the EU. Nobody made a fuss over the FTC investigations. Intel is guilty, they will appeal of course but in the end they will have to pay the fine and compete fairly.

In fact, the computer manufacturers that they bribed should also be fined.

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Anonymous Coward

That figures

I worked for a multinational computer company. It designed both Intel and AMD-based products but the AMD products were always canceled before launch even though they were strong technically and commercially. Management would be prickly and unwilling to discuss reasons at these times.

I always wondered why that kept happening, I guess now I know.

Anon for obvious reasons.

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Stu

AMD

I think the point is that if AMD had been able to properly grow its market share over the past 10 years - without these practices getting in the way - they would have been able to improve their product even more than they already have done. That or Intel would have had to sell their chips at a more reasonable price in the first place in order to compete with AMD's prices.

Sure, at the top end, Intel are usually a step ahead. But I've used AMD for the past 10 years in my self-built home PCs because a) they're cheaper, and b) the performance has been more than good enough to do the job.

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@AC 10:36

Yes, currently Intel offer better performance, and AMD better value. Thing is, it used to be that AMD and Intel were on a level playing field wrt performance, but AMD offered better value.

Would the gap in performance exist if Intel had not used it's muscle with OEMs to hurt AMD? We will never know. But the situation may have been reversed had Intel not been naughty.

For me, I prefer AMD CPUs. I refuse to pay the premium for Intel, in terms of both CPU and Mobo costs. And Phenom II is such a big step in the right direction that I could see AMD catching up some time over the next few years.

( One last point, slightly off topic: Am I the only one who thinks Intel's i7 is just a copy of the Phenom? )

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Let the market decide

I spent a number of years in the personal computer industry, and recall rumor having it that, due to pressure of the kind mentioned here, one product on which I'd worked (at a company no longer in that business) was pulled before it could be built and shipped.

One might always no-bid a solicitation to bid, but legitimate agreements to pursue an exclusive buying relationship depend not on threats, but benefits. Intel brings a lot to the table, and it is a distortion of what a free market should do to pressure those not wishing to enter such an agreement.

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Anonymous Coward

Two sides of the same old-school coin?

Funny how the Wintel conglomerate was once seen as a single entity, and both halves of that have now been slapped for being cheating anti-competitive bastards in business.

Does that billion euros mean we can take a breather from our national payments to the EU for a month or three? According to UKIP it's something like £40mil a day!

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Stop

Going on far too long

Intel have been getting away with this for FAR too long. Where the fine goes is another argument, but the fact this has gone through is a win, finally. This isn't about who is best or anything, it's about plain, simple big business tactics to muscle people out. How many more big corporate American companies will get done over? Plenty more, I hope

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Anonymous Coward

title required

----

AMD = better price

Intel = better performance

Its been that way for a while now

---

That's true - it wasn't always the case but the I7 Nehalims blow anything AMD have out of the water.

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MS

Interesting that MS is doing it still with all kinds of computers. Just try to find PCs with Linux... well hidden on web pages somewhere.

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@Geoff Campbell & Luke

@Geoff Campbell

Only if AMD said "you can have these for free as long as you only use AMD chips".

@Luke

No. Just No. If your trying to be funny, please use the joke icon, cos the joke isent very clear.

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@Just what the world needs in the middle of a recession

Ditto.

This is such an obvious attempt by the EU to recoup money from an American company in a vain attempt to staunch the flow of money being bleed out by ze Germans and those Frenchies (can you say Strike and 4 day weeks).

That in itself wouldn't be so bad, (anything to hit the yankies ;) but the actual amount may very well cripple a company that for all its mischevinous has without a doubt assisted in pushing Technology to where it is today.

The EU are now money grubbers..

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Good, but perhaps too late

This is a good result I think, but it's possibly a bit late in the game for AMD.

A few years back in the P4 era, AMD was shipping very competitive products at very competitive prices. On a level playing field, they would have grown massively and made a ton of money during this period. That would have left them with enough cash (or at least hugely less debt), and they'd be spending more on R+D to make better chips to compete with intel now.

Instead, AMD is pretty much crippled, and has chips that don't compete on performance. Worse, they're a generation behind on production, meaning that their chips are bigger than intels and cost more to make. They have to sell them for less than intel does as they're slower. End result is that intel is selling chips for a good profit, AMD are on razor thin margins. Intel has a lot more money to spend on R+D, new manufacturing processes etc. The gap will widen... I can't see how AMD will remain competitive or in business for much longer. (Then again, have they EVER made a profit? Somebody seems happy to pay to keep them running :)

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@Am I missing something here....

Yes, you are missing something here.

Intel paid companies not to sell computers with AMD's chips in them. AMD couldn't do anything about that, being the minority player in the market,

AMD are saying "Here, have some free chips". They are using a standard loss-leader tactic to try and build market share. (Whether it will work is another issue)

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Boffin

@ITWillSaveTheWorld

"This is such an obvious attempt by the EU to recoup money from an American company"

"anything to hit the yankies"

If you actually did some research on what companies the EU has fined over the years you may realise what kind of bollocks you are talking.

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@itwillsavetheworld

Intel pushing technology? More like intel seeing the tech AMD use then copying it.....onchip memory controller, true x64 architecture (do the intels x64 chips still drop down to 32bit if they even get a sniff of a non 64 app or driver?)

Moron = someone (such as yourself) who believes that intel were treated unfairly

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Coat

i'm amazed...

that most of you seem to expect intel to actually pay the fine. Remember those huge fines imposed on France for not allowing British beef in during the mad cow fiasco? - France actually paid 0, nil, zero, nada, nothing. What makes you think intel will be any different?

Mine's the coat with the empty pockets

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Anti-EU nonsense

What would you rather the EU do then; ignore the law breaking ? Find them guilty but impose no penalty or a minimal fine ?

The argument that the EU is only doing this to earn revenue as money grabbing bastards doesn't stand up to scrutiny when the law has clearly been broken and other countries have also taken action. Sure it's just anti-Americanism, which is obviously why Intel's practices are also being investigated in the States.

Of course I don't expect that to convince anyone who thinks the EU and UN ought to be on the Axis of Evil list.

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@ITWillSaveTheWorld

"amount may very well cripple a company that for all its mischevinous has without a doubt assisted in pushing Technology to where it is today."

Maybe you should give up commenting on things you know nothing about. Even in the current dire economy Intel posted a profit (after taxes, fines, and all other costs are paid) of $670million in the first three months of this year alone. In a normal year they'd trouser well over $5 billion in profit off $35billion+ in sales. They could easily afford to pay the whole fine out of one years profits and still have plenty left over.

A billion isn't chump change to anyone, but if Intel make a huge profit instead of a ginormous profit for one year it isn't the end of the world.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Paul

No joke, and why no just no?, its a very similar situation , paying one company to delay the release of a competitor product (admittidly its focusing on one part of what happened here, but it is still one part)

Was making the point that what is perfectly fine in one market is classed as anti competitive in another even tho they both have the same effect (limit consumor choice)

I'm all for anti competition laws, but they should be applied unilaterally, just just because company x doesn't like company y.

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Black Helicopters

@Blitz (post 2)

When Athlon 64 and Opteron came out, Intel had no answer. They both kicked everything Intel has in the gonads and still cost less. Yet despite the advantages of performance and price, AMD has having trouble finding a distributor. The reason was that Intel was giving discounts, not on how many units you sell like all other businesses, but on what percentage of Intel units you sold. It wasn't 100%, but it was very high. Motherboard manufacturers were making AMD motherboards unbranded. Does that sound fair? Intel strong-armed the competition to keep AMD down on purpose. The result was the you and I paid more for computers and Intel got even more money to keep AMD down.

Fortunately for AMD, HP was a maverick. HP had this crazy idea of giving customers what they wanted instead of telling customers what they wanted. Are you listening Dell or should I say Intel Jr? Dell refused to sell AMD chips stating that nobody wanted them. But at the same time HP overtook Dell as the #1 PC maker because of selling both AMD and Intel chips. Dell only started to sell AMD chips when Core 2 came out. Coincidence? Why would Dell only sell AMD chips when Intel had something better? Think about it.

My complaint with this fine is that one most affected won't see any of it. AMD was shafted, yet they will get nothing but a "you were right". Try paying the bills with that. Competition benefits us all. It is the reason why you can get a really good computer for 1/3 of what it have cost several years ago. Intel has the money to spare. They will be around tomorrow.

I'm not AMD loyalists, I am a price-performance loyalists.

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Anonymous Coward

Performance vs Price

I Chose, and still use to this day, a pre-built PC years ago, an AMD Athlon 2100 XP. It certainly worked out cheaper, and I would say I'd purchase another AMD based processor, after research of course, over any intel CPU.

However, I've found in large stores recently, when just looking out of a slight interest, that often AMD processors, particularly those appearing in laptops, end up having other crap specifications pasted together. It does almost seem that intel have dominated the market, and that this continues to be the case. It can't be because they're 'better', given how little trust we all have in the general public to make correct choices, so surely must be a result of marketing and incentives to the PC manufacturers/distributors.

Anyway, I'd say again that do your research before purchasing any computer, be it a base unit or laptop, and definitely take a look at AMD... as with intel they do have some junk CPUs, but overall I seen a lesser cost for similar performance.

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Splendid

Just splendid.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just in manufacturing; marketing too...

I worked for several large PC sellers in last 10 years. H/w margins are of course razor thin. But Intel (and Microsoft) give a substantial amount of "soft-margin" for marketing, amounting to several percent points of total sales revenue.

You can get the money if you advertise that your PC contains "Intel-inside" (or "We recommend XP for Business"). It's vital to the whole overall profitability of the operation.

But it's strictly audited. Advertise any products that don't have Intel or MS and you can lose all your money. After the event. So people tend to play it safe. It limits the amount of non-Intel, non-MS products you can market.

Just another legal but anti-competitive practice. Well done EU and Nellie for going after this oligoply!

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N

OK, but

Its all very well fining Intel, but if the EUs decision is right, then it must surely pay some of the fine to AMD to even the score?

& as for doing this right in a middle of a recession, well that just shows how much grip the EU has on reality, duh.

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@Luke

You really want that game on the Wii don't you!!

It's not really the same at all is it? Really? If they went ahead and canceled it on all platforms mysteriously, and the game writers couldn't find another publisher that would work with them to put the game on other platforms then you might have an argument but they haven't.

Checking out Wikipedia (pinch of salt ready) and it says that Sony just bought the rights to publish it for the Playstation with Blu-Ray copies of the films, and Atari are going to publish it everywhere else later in the year. I'm also assuming that all parties know about it and agreed rather than a shady under-the-table-in-a-trenchcoat-with-a-brown-envelope-and-a-funny-hand-shake kinda deal.

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Anonymous Coward

OMG there are stupid comments above

It is nto anti american you idiots. Its pro consumer, pro fair business and will benefit us as a whole.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Andy

The article's around this subject states that they delayed offers of AMD , note delayed, not cancelled. Excatly the same as in the situation I mentioned.

And actually its being published at the same time for all consoles in america and in japan, just not in the EU where sony are currently doing this possibly anti competitive action. So release dates for the game were set a few weeks ago, but ONLY the none sony release dates in teh EU were pushed back once the publishing deal went through. Shurly that is very simular behaviour, if you replaced the names of both companies with company x and company y the situation would look very similar!

BTW I have a ps3, 360 and a wii , but i don't see why something sony are doing should limit my consumer choice over what console to play it on. And a limitiation of consumor choice is actually what the competition commission is meant to do something about! :P

But again the point was that what is classed as anti compeitive in one business is not in another, the competition commision should be applying the rules and precedents set unilaterally!

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The fine should have been 10 billion € a month, for life.

Keep in mind that Intel did this specifically during the years when AMD's parts were generally superior. AMD added sigmificantly to x86 during the years that Intel was doing the Itanic circle-jerk with HP.

The intended, actual and successfully eliminated victim was competition - primarily AMD, but also Transmeta and other small companies. Because of the size difference, keeping 1€ out of AMD hands was worth more than 50€ to Intel (a mute point, since Intel actually made money from the scam anyway).

Directly because of Intel's criminal actions, AMD did not receive the profits it had earned - profits AMD (and, e.g., Transmeta) would have used to add design staff, and build or update chip fabs. Maybe even do some marketing.

Now that Intel has been able to add the engineers and fabs that AMD earned to its monopoly, each and every day Intel steals more of AMDs money and share. They're not stealing from Transmeta anymore, since they cheated them into their grave.

Of course, Intel's actions would have been completely legal if it wasn't a monopoly. But this kind of fraud only works when you have a protected monopoly (AMD was crying foul all the way through the period to - surprise - absolutely no effect).

In addition, Intel used many of its stolen billions to build a 'backup Intel' in Israel where it is now completely out of the reach of American and EU regulations and regulators.

So as long as they stay out of gaol, Intel executives will be partying.

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will still use intel

... because AMD-Chips are fine, yes, but the huge number of boards for it are crap, most of the times, need constant updates and something usually wasn't working right. Something that was impossible to google before you bought the board, because you would have never thought of it.

Never have such driver and hardware issues with intel. big plus, at least for me!

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Bronze badge

On who the money goes to ...

In most court cases a fine goes to the authorities / government, presumably to benefit all those the authority represent ( I won't debate if it does or not ), it's a punishment for breaking the law.

If AMD want to sue Intel for damages / lost earnings etc I would expect them to have every grounds to. The EU fine does not prevent AMD taking action.

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Luke...

Luke,

Sony choosing to release the game only in limited quantities and only on certain platforms is not anticompetitive. They own the rights to it, and CLEARLY, there's thriving competition. Now, if Sony started telling Microsoft that they could only distribute GhostBusters on Xbox360 if Microsoft restricted the sale of non-Sony produced games to specific numbers, that's a different story.

Limiting the sale of things you produce/own if people won't play by your rules is supply/demand. Limiting what the OTHER GUY sells based on terms in your contract with a third party is ILLEGAL.

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i feel good about myself

i have always been a AMD buyer :D

prolly will as well even if, the intel chip is a little faster.

but i wish AMD had bought nvidia instead of crappy old ATI, dont like ati at all

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Silver badge

Bah!

It seems to me the real evil inherent in this "deal" was basing the rebates on the harm to another company's product line rather than on the success of Intel's own line of fine products.

I should have thought that in this enlightened age any capatalist marketplace would outlaw any practice that sought to degrade sales of a competitors product by any means other than the clear superiority of one's own.

It smacks of Restraint of Trade to me.

Of course, then you will see the same economics that made Apple a second string player in a market it virtually invented - people will go for cheap over quality almost every time (not suggesting AMD doesn't make a quality product of course).

Maybe it would put the brakes on the idiotic chipset races that mean PC games that won't run on a machine more than six months old. Imagine that. Game manufacturers would have to improve gameplay rather than just adding more shine.

FYI: It isn't just Americans doing this, nor is it confined to the computer industry. A rather large UK company I am acquainted with has extremely predatory practices of a similar nature to the Intel nonsense, so much so they've become something of a watchword for "bully" in that particular market.

Life. Marvin the P.A. had it right, I reckon.

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Anonymous Coward

Sky

...... Now if only they'd do the same to Sky.

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Speed

"AMD-Chips are fine, yes, but the huge number of boards for it are crap"

Very likely true, but if you get a good one, the end result is terrific. I rebuilt an oldish PC with an s/h Abit Fatal1ty mobo (silly name, I know) using the existing dual-core Athlon CPU, and with XP it is as quick as anything I have used.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh, pleeeease

What pure rubbish I'm reading here. No one, in one's right mind, would suggest that a corporation be allowed to break the law and get away with it. What Intel did is illegal in the U.S., too, only we have come to the point to where corporations can break the law with impunity, or, if they are punished, the fine is so small that it is considered just another cost in doing business. To suggest that the EU did this only to fleece an Amerian company and raise some revenue is ludicrous. I'd say that the EU seems to really believe in protecting its citizens. Perhaps if the US were to to the same, we wouldn't be in this serious global recession.

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go EU!

Interesting how it's always the EU that's standing up for consumer rights, whereas the US government just sits back and watches its corporations fuck everyone over without so much as a peep. Just goes to show who is really running things in each jurisdiction.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't this make Intel a criminal...

organization? Shouldn't the Board Members, chief executives, president, and at one VP go to jail? And the money should go largely to AMD.

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