Under the deal, Intel will have less leeway in marketing its products but won’t have to pay any fines, Reuters reported. The deal will require Intel to extend an agreement it made with Advanced Micro Devices to the graphics chip market, where Nvidia has complained about Intel’s tactics that hurt Nvidia’s ability to sell chips.
The deal is important because Intel is the world’s largest chip maker and has about 80 percent of the PC microprocessor market. Any restrictions on Intel could affect competition as well as the prices consumers pay for computers. Last year, Intel agreed to pay a hefty $1.45 billion fine to the European Union and make a $1.25 billion payment to settle an antitrust case with AMD.
Even as those cases were settled, the FTC opened a new case examining Intel’s practices in December after Nvidia complained. Last fall’s FTC complaint alleged that Intel blocked rivals from selling their chips by cutting off access to the market. The move shows that, under the Obama administration, antitrust enforcement is going to be aggressive.
“Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly,” Richard A. Feinstein, director of the agency’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement at the time. “It’s been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits.”
The commission sought to stop Intel from competing unfairly by using threats, bundled prices, or other offers to encourage exclusive deals or manipulate prices. Intel has long maintained that it has done nothing wrong and that consumers haven’t suffered, but in its settlement with AMD, it agreed not to do a number of things that AMD had complained about.
Under the deal reached this week, there will be restrictions on Intel’s use of volume discounts for microprocessors and graphics chips. The deal was struck this week because Friday is the deadline for the five-member FTC to discuss the matter. The FTC and Intel declined comment to Reuters. Intel said that the talks are “ongoing.” Nvidia also declined comment.
VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.