$1.25 Billion Later, It's Back to Business for AMD and Intel

Arthur Cole

Now that all the ramifications of the recent HP-3Com deal have been thoroughly hashed out, it's time to take a look at the other major event of the past week.

I'm talking about Intel's decision to put its legal dispute with AMD to rest to the tune of $1.25 billion. By any measure, that is a huge settlement and one that Intel clearly hopes will leave behind a lot of the antitrust accusations that have been made against it.

Whether that actually happens is still up in the air, particularly in Europe, but from the looks of things, it appears the settlement will have a number of positive ripple effects throughout the IT industry.

One of these is in the area of live migration in virtual environments. According to IDG's Jon Brodkin, the deal includes a new five-year cross-licensing agreement for the two companies' basic processing technologies, which means it may soon be possible to shift data across virtual environments regardless of whose chips are powering the basic hardware. At the very least, it should bring down the cost of virtualization even further because it is now possible to implement on the processor level without fear of introducing AMD or Intel silos in the data center.

This is certainly good news for the channel, according to CRN's Damon Poeter, if only that it takes much of the guesswork away from exactly how each other's chips were to be used in integrated systems. Even still, the deal clearly favors AMD in that it can generally provide lower-cost versions of Intel-compatible devices, particularly as it seeks to regain ground in the crucial server market.

And of course, let's not overlook the impact that a quick $1.25 billion can have on R&D efforts. AMD is already talking about jump-starting the on-again, off-again Fusion project, which aims to unite a CPU and a GPU on the same processor. If AMD can pull it off this time, we should see a new generation of chips that is not only faster and more streamlined than the current dual CPU/GPU chipsets, but will likely be cheaper and consume less power as well.

In the meantime, AMD is going full-bore on the new Bulldozer desktop architecture, a 32 nm multicore device with an integrated memory controller designed to go up against the Core i5 and i7 chips. Unfortunately for AMD, by the time Bulldozer hits the channel, Intel is expected to come out with the 22 nm Haswell, featuring eight cores and an integrated vector processor.

The end of this long-running dispute clearly marks the close of another chapter in the history of silicon. With no one ever admitting blame or taking responsibility in these kinds of matters, it's up to the rest of us to pass judgment on who was right, who was wrong and whether the outcome was indeed "fair."

But at least with the legal issues resolved, both companies can get back to building the foundation for the next generation of computing.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 13, 2009 2:41 PM Vaughn Vaughn  says:

Looks like instead of "to the tune of $1.25 million" you meant "to the tune of $1.25 billion". The difference between the two is only small if you ask our Federal Government...


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