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RealTime IT News

AMD's Fight Vs. Intel Likely a Lonely One

Score another one for AMD.

Yesterday's surprise raid on Intel offices by European regulators lent a nice bit of publicity to a case AMD will likely have to lead without the kind of support that anti-Microsoft groups mustered in the antitrust suit against the software giant.

The EU raid followed on the heels of a decision by Japan's courts that favored AMD over Intel.

It also followed the recent ruling in the U.S. courts allowing AMD to serve document preservation subpoenas against computer makers, retailers, distributors and small systems builders to boost its claim.

But until the EU rules or the case in the U.S. goes to trial, it may be a while before any other bombshells propel AMD's legal battle to the top of tech news. Analysts and AMD officials agree they don't expect any Intel customers to come forward to support charges of monopoly abuse before and if they are legally required to when the case goes to trial.

Legal experts say the process of gathering evidence and witness testimony leading to a trial date in the U.S. will take at least a year and probably longer.

AMD officials claim they've received encouragement and support from many top computer company executives to pursue the case against Intel. But AMD also says it does not expect any of those same executives to voice their support publicly -- unless they are legally required to -- for fear of retribution by Intel.

If obligated by the courts to testify, these executives will be freer to speak out because, by AMD's reckoning, Intel won't be able to punish them (e.g. withhold discounts) for obeying the law.

Intel has not responded in great detail to AMD's charges. In a statement earlier this month, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said "Intel has always respected the laws of the countries in which we operate." He also said Intel disagrees "unequivocally" with AMD's claims.

The AMD case is a mixed bag for computer companies that really don't want to get involved in it either way, according to Nathan Brookwood, analyst with Insight64.

"It depends on what turns up in the discovery process," said Brookwood. "A vendor like HP or IBM doesn't want to be portrayed as a whipping boy or flunky for Intel. If AMD's allegations are true that Intel used its position in the marketplace to coerce some of these companies there is probably going to be some resentment by those vendors as well."

For IT managers deciding whether to buy AMD or Intel-based systems, this is little more than an interesting sideshow for now. Gartner analyst Martin Reynolds issued a bulletin earlier this month advising IT customers to leave the legal tussle to the companies' respective lawyers to sort out.

"Do not make any changes to system procurement plans because of AMD's lawsuit," said Reynolds. "This case will generate a great deal of media attention, but will likely not affect the IT industry in any material way, because neither AMD nor Intel will allow itself to be distracted from its operations."