FTC Lawsuit Will Not Be Able to Force Intel to Simplify x86 License Terms – Analyst

No Liberalization for x86 Licenses, Claims Observer

by Anton Shilov
12/28/2009 | 10:36 PM

Even though some expected Federal Trade Commission to force Intel Corp. to liberalize terms of licenses on its processor buses and x86 instruction set, a market observer said that this is something that is unlikely to happen.


Broadpoint AmTech analyst Doug Freedman said that he did not believe that the courts would support forcing Intel to license contemporary x86 instruction set to more companies. The expectation is completely logical not only because Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are constantly extending the x86 technology with new capabilities, but also because even if Intel is forced to license its own piece of x86 instructions, AMD will be not and a potential new licensee will not be able to make microprocessors fully compatible with AMD’s chips. It should also be stressed that FTC demanded to liberalize x86 license terms so that the license became transferrable when its holders are acquired by third parties.

“We believe attempts were made to resolve the issue non-publicly, but Intel balked at the FTC's requirements to license its buses, as well as x86 processors,” Mr. Freedman wrote in his note to clients and added that the world’s largest maker of chips would receive a favorable ruling on the matter before the end of 2010.

The market observer also believes that the FTC will not be able to bolster competition on the market of chipsets for Intel Corp.’s microprocessors since all the forthcoming chips have integrated memory controllers and graphics cores and hence do not require complex core-logic sets.