Sunday, February 05, 2006

Beware of INTEL's tricks

I was reading the book "Inside Intel" by Tim Jackson. It's an eye opener to see how INTEL got rich. For example, in the early days of 8086, to eliminate Motorola, which had the 68000 CPU, INTEL initiated a marketing compaign called "Operation Crush". The goal was, quoting the leading INTEL exec, "We have to kill Motorola, that's the name of the game. We have to crush the f**king1 bastards. We're gonna roll over Motorola and make sure they don't come back again." One key INTEL tactic was the release of cataglogs of next generation CPUs 5x the speed to convince customers to choose INTEL. Such parts did not even exist on the drawing board. Motorola was fooled, instead of dimissing INTEL's vaporware, it released an honest catalog of next generation CPUs which were far less impressive.

Most disturbing was how INTEL deceived the Court and jury during an INTEL lawsuit against AMD on the issue of 286 microcode. It was about the interpretation of the term "microcomputer" in an INTEL-AMD licensing agreement. INTEL altered the date of some crucial internal document and removed some incriminating text from it. The jury was deceived, and issued a verdict against AMD.

It was by some pure luck that AMD found the original INTEL document and the judge ordered a new trial four months after the jury verdict. With the untampered evidence, AMD won. But AMD lost precious many months marketing its own 486 processors due to an injunction issued previously as a result of INTEL's lawsuit.

The lessons AMD should learn:

*) INTEL is again promising pie in the sky 45nm and next generation chips no one has seen. AMD should devise a good strategy against this and seize the moment. Platform stability is a key AMD advantage.

*) Beware of potential tampering of evidence in the anti-trust lawsuit. AMD needs to beef up its computer forensic expertise in its legal team. I think Google folks should be very good at mining the massive amount of documents and emails.

Note: The book had the four letter word + ing, I removed it, so children don't learn from the bad example.

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