AMD faces investigation into antitrust violations

Nvidia also served with subpoena from US DoJ

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By  Published  December 8, 2006

Chip firm AMD is facing investigation from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over potential antitrust violations, it admitted last month.

While it said that no specific allegations have been made, the firm acknowledged that the DoJ has served it, along with graphics processor firm Nvidia, with a subpoena.

In a statement on its website, AMD said that it “intends to cooperate with the investigation”, which it said covered graphics processors and cards.

AMD entered the graphics processor industry in October with its US$5.4 billion purchase of ATI Technologies, Nvidia’s leading rival in that sector.

Hector Ruiz, AMD’s CEO, said at the time that the deal was part of a larger strategy to increase focus on visual computing.

While the DoJ successfully prosecuted a number of firms in the memory industry in 2004 and 2005 for anticompetitive practices — including price-fixing — Nvidia and ATI have been seen as fierce competitors in the past.

As such, industry analysts suggested that the two were highly unlikely to have enga- ged in similar practices.

AMD also launched its four-core computing platform, Quad FX, aimed at high-end gamers and PC enthusiasts, last month.

Previously code-named ‘4x4’, Quad FX features ‘dual socket direct connect (DSDC) architecture’, and is AMD’s answer to Intel’s quad-branded CPU.

However, while Intel’s quad-core Core 2 Duo chips and forthcoming Core 2 Quad CPUs — feature four CPU cores inside one processor sitting in one motherboard socket, AMD’s Quad FX platform comprises two of the firm’s new dual-core Athlon FX-70 series processors, housed in two CPU slots on specially-built motherboards.

These motherboards will also feature two nVidia chipsets that connect individually to each CPU, meaning boards can in turn feature up to four PCI Express slots for graphics card use.

As Quad FX uses two sockets, some versions of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system (OS) won’t be able to take advantage of the second processor, analysts noted.

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