When AMD and Intel held their journalist conference calls last week, the contrast between the two companies could not be greater.
AMD talked as though the $1.25 billion settlement was the dawn of a new era of sweetness and light where it and Intel will work together to create a brave new X86 world.
Intel talked as though what it would really like to do is to jump over the desk, grab AMD by the throat, and give it what the Scots call a Glaswegian kiss.
Magnanimity in victory is a wonderful thing but in truth the settlement represents just another milestone in the continued competition between the two companies.
What’s AMD gained? First of all, it has $1.25 billion in the bank, its ability to spin off and use Global Foundries as its fab is now assured, and it has a continuing five year license with Intel on X86 technology. It can reduce its army of lawyers to a platoon.
What’s Intel gained? It’s got some respite from the barrage of litigation that was beginning to swamp it and to hog the world headlines week after week. It’s paid $1.25 billion to AMD and although CEO Paul Otellini said in the conference call that it hurts him every time he has to sign a check, in reality the price tag for the settlement is not too bad at all. It will have to carry on hiring an army of lawyers because it’s not through with appeals and with fresh investigations yet.
Intel will have to love AMD.
And you know, Intel hates that. The old atavisms run deep in the cubicles of Santa Clara. The old guard would like to crush the competition. But that’s not possible now.
Intel is a highly profitable company run on rigorous lines and has changed a great deal from the self-obsessed paranoid monster it was portrayed as 15 years ago. It is at its best when its back is against the wall, as it showed only a few years ago when it had to scrap its CPU plans and start from scratch with a brand new architecture. It succeeded in creating entirely new roadmaps and combating AMD’s incursions into its market share.
It’s completely obvious from the conference calls that Intel is determined to compete just as fiercely in the X86 marketplace as it always has. It admits no guilt, and insists that it has always behaved within the law. AMD has had great success with its ATI product family but now has to execute on its Fusion strategy too. It insists this is an entirely new direction it is taking and it will grab market share from Intel. The roadmaps look interesting. There’s everything to play for.
No doubt, AMD and Intel have made scores of lawyers very very happy in the last several years. Now it’s time for both to make us and the industry very happy too, with great products.