Intel hit with largest ever EU fine

Millions harmed by chip giant's behaviour


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 the threat of AMD was widely recognised in internal Intel documents seen by the Commission.

She said Intel's rebates were a problem because of the conditions attached. She questioned whether an efficient competitor could offer such rebates. The conditions meant AMD could not compete with Intel on the merits of its products.

This undermined innovation - one PC manufacturer took up some free AMD processors but not all of those offered, because if it had done it would have breached its agreement with Intel. It was offered a million free AMD chips, but only accepted 160,000 so it would keep its Intel rebates.

Kroes said the Commission supported price competition but Intel's actions went far beyond that.

Intel paid retailer Media Saturn Holding on condition it only stocked machines with Intel chips. The company also made direct payments to computer makers to delay and limit release of machines with AMD inside.

Three computer makers were given rebates provided they sourced a set percentage of their chips from Intel. A fourth pledged to source all its laptop chips from Intel in exchange for rebates.

"Pay to delay" was aimed at stopping a competitor from selling its products to consumers.

The Commission found evidence that Intel went to great lengths to cover up these actions. Many of the agreements were made outside of official contracts.

Kroes said Intel had harmed millions and millions of European consumers, so the size of the fine should come as no surprise. She thanked European consumer associations for their support.

She said: "This goes to show the widespread dissatisfaction with Intel's action. I'd like to draw your attention to Intel's latest advert calling them sponsors of tomorrow, now they are sponsors of the European taxpayer." She told Intel to obey the law.

Kroes said the Commission could have raised the fine but it was still the highest ever imposed on a company. She said the fine was not the goal but changing behaviour. The fine was based on Intel's European turnover and the duration of the offenses.

She said the case was solidly based on case law and consumer harm.

Kroes welcomed changes to US competition regulation and said she had big hopes for future cooperation.

More here. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • AMD bests Intel in cloud CPU performance study
    Overall price-performance in Big 3 hyperscalers a dead heat, says CockroachDB

    AMD's processors have come out on top in terms of cloud CPU performance across AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, according to a recently published study.

    The multi-core x86-64 microprocessors Milan and Rome and beat Intel Cascade Lake and Ice Lake instances in tests of performance in the three most popular cloud providers, research from database company CockroachDB found.

    Using the CoreMark version 1.0 benchmark – which can be limited to run on a single vCPU or execute workloads on multiple vCPUs – the researchers showed AMD's Milan processors outperformed those of Intel in many cases, and at worst statistically tied with Intel's latest-gen Ice Lake processors across both the OLTP and CPU benchmarks.

    Continue reading
  • Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future
    The chip’s GPU and neural engine could overshadow Apple’s concession on CPU performance

    Analysis For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Apple's move to homegrown silicon for Macs, the tech giant has admitted that the new M2 chip isn't quite the slam dunk that its predecessor was when compared to the latest from Apple's former CPU supplier, Intel.

    During its WWDC 2022 keynote Monday, Apple focused its high-level sales pitch for the M2 on claims that the chip is much more power efficient than Intel's latest laptop CPUs. But while doing so, the iPhone maker admitted that Intel has it beat, at least for now, when it comes to CPU performance.

    Apple laid this out clearly during the presentation when Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, said the M2's eight-core CPU will provide 87 percent of the peak performance of Intel's 12-core Core i7-1260P while using just a quarter of the rival chip's power.

    Continue reading
  • Qualcomm wins EU court battle against $1b antitrust fine
    Another setback for competition watchdog as ruling over exclusive chip deal with iPhone nullified

    The European Commission's competition enforcer is being handed another defeat, with the EU General Court nullifying a $1.04 billion (€997 million) antitrust fine against Qualcomm.

    The decision to reverse the fine is directed at the body's competition team, headed by Danish politico Margrethe Vestager, which the General Court said made "a number of procedural irregularities [which] affected Qualcomm's rights of defense and invalidate the Commission's analysis" of Qualcomm's conduct. 

    At issue in the original case was a series of payments Qualcomm made to Apple between 2011 and 2016, which the competition enforcer had claimed were made in order to guarantee the iPhone maker exclusively used Qualcomm chips.

    Continue reading
  • Linux Foundation thinks it can get you interested in smartNICs
    Step one: Make them easier to program

    The Linux Foundation wants to make data processing units (DPUs) easier to deploy, with the launch of the Open Programmable Infrastructure (OPI) project this week.

    The program has already garnered support from several leading chipmakers, systems builders, and software vendors – Nvidia, Intel, Marvell, F5, Keysight, Dell Tech, and Red Hat to name a few – and promises to build an open ecosystem of common software frameworks that can run on any DPU or smartNIC.

    SmartNICs, DPUs, IPUs – whatever you prefer to call them – have been used in cloud and hyperscale datacenters for years now. The devices typically feature onboard networking in a PCIe card form factor and are designed to offload and accelerate I/O-intensive processes and virtualization functions that would otherwise consume valuable host CPU resources.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022