Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FTC accuses Intel of rigging SysMark, Cinebench and TPC benchmarks

Intel received another drop of bomb in its legal front yard. Now, it's the United States of America versus Intel Corporation. The Intel-AMD settlement was a sweet deal for both AMD and Intel. AMD got some money and the freedom to have10 Fabs built with Arabian gold. Intel saves $16 billion in treble damages. Time is more important for AMD.

Now. the FTC took the charge against the mighty Intel. One of the accusation that U.S. is making is the following:

58. For example, in response to AMD introduction of its Opteron CPU for servers in 2003, Intel
became concerned about the competitive threat posed by Opteron processors. Intel then designed its compiler and libraries in or about 2003 to generate software that runs slower on non-Intel x86 CPUs, such as Opteron. This decrease in the efficiency of Opteron and other non-Intel x86 CPUs harmed competition in the relevant CPU markets.

59. To the public, OEMs, ISVs, and benchmarking organizations, the slower performance of non-Intel CPUs on Intel-compiled software applications appeared to be caused by the non-Intel CPUs rather than the Intel software. Intel failed to disclose the effects of the changes it made to its software in or about 2003 and later to its customers or the public. Intel also disseminated false or misleading documentation about its compiler and libraries. Intel represented to ISVs, OEMs, benchmarking organizations, and the public that programs inherently performed better on Intel CPUs than on competing CPUs. In truth and in fact, many differences were due largely or entirely to the Intel software. Intel’s misleading or false statements and omissions about the performance of its software were material to ISVs, OEMs, benchmarking organizations, and the public in their purchase or use of CPUs. Therefore, Intel’s representations that programs inherently performed better on Intel CPUs than on competing CPUs were, and are, false or misleading. Intel’s failure to disclose that the differences were due largely to the Intel software, in light of the representations made, was, and is, a deceptive practice. Moreover, those misrepresentations and omissions were likely to harm the reputation of other x86 CPUs companies, and harmed competition.

60. Some ISVs requested information from Intel concerning the apparent variation in performance of identical software run on Intel and non-Intel CPUs. In response to such requests, on numerous occasions, Intel misrepresented, expressly or by implication, the source of the problem and whether it could be solved.

61. Intel’s software design changes slowed the performance of non-Intel x86 CPUs and had no
sufficiently justifiable technological benefit. Intel’s deceptive conduct deprived consumers of an
informed choice between Intel chips and rival chips, and between Intel software and rival software, and raised rivals’ costs of competing in the relevant CPU markets. The loss of performance caused by the Intel compiler and libraries also directly harmed consumers that used non-Intel x86 CPUs.

64. Several benchmarking organizations adopted benchmarks that measured performance of CPUs running software programs compiled using the Intel compiler or libraries. Intel’s deception affected among others, the Business Applications Performance Corporation (“BAPCo”), Cinebench, and TPC benchmarks.

67. Intel publicized the results of the benchmarking to promote sales of products containing its
x86 CPUs even though it knew the benchmarks were misleading. For example: ...

One of the relief the FTC is seeking is to order Intel to provide non-Defective compilers to its customers and pay all the cost caused by the deliberate degradation of AMD CPU performance.