RealTime IT News

EC Sides With AMD in Brand-Name Issue

The European Commission is taking AMD's side in its push to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, brand-name procurement policies by government agencies.

The EC sent a "letter of formal notice" to the government of Spain regarding its use of technical specifications in the procurement of computers it says refer to Intel-trademarked or equivalent microprocessors, or ones that require microprocessors with a minimum clock-rate.

AMD has argued the brand-name specification puts an undue burden on competitors to win government contracts, and the EC has agreed.

In the last year, the EC has sent similar notices to Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden. According to AMD, the governments of Germany, Italy, the U.K., France and Poland have since enacted regulations that require performance-based procurement specs instead of brand names.

"I think the important thing to focus on is that the EC has a strong policy in place, that at the end of the day, it provides fair and open competition to the best products and value," Steve Kester, a government relations official at AMD, told internetnews.com.

Kester said instead of brand names, the government agencies are referring to industry-standard benchmarks, such as SYSmark, in their processor and computer procurement specs.

"Under the EU public procurement rules, contracting authorities may refer to a brand name to describe a product only when there are no other possible descriptions that are both sufficiently precise and intelligible to potential tenderers," the EU said in its letter.

"In this case, however, the microprocessors may be described in a precise and intelligible manner using references, such as the type of the microprocessor, and its required performance technical specifications that specify the Intel brand may be discriminatory and inconsistent" with earlier EU directives.

The EC also advised that use of a minimum clock-rate spec is also discriminatory in relation to certain brands of microprocessors whose performance it said can only be appraised fairly by adding the IPC (Instructions executed Per Clock) to the clock rate.

While AMD has lobbied successfully in its own interest for brand neutral policies to the EC and the U.S. government, the company said such policies are a potential benefit to all businesses who sell to government.

"It's the kind of thing that could help office supply companies, whether its Xerox versus Lexmark or numerous other vendors," said Kester. "It's a no-brainer, and I think that's why we're seeing governments respond so quickly to comply."