SAN JOSE, Calif. — For years, Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. have battled each other in the x86-based microprocessor business.
But in 2005, Intel verses AMD reached epic proportions: Call it a new and memorable chapter in the ongoing battle between the semiconductor industry’s version of David and Goliath.
In 2005, AMD smacked mighty Intel with a stone from its proverbial slingshot, sending the microprocessor giant back on its heels — at least temporarily. Microprocessor supplier AMD scored a minor victory in its long uphill fight to wrestle the processor market from Intel, as the company overtook its archrival in the U.S. retail PC sector in October, according to market research firm Current Analysis.
Intel took AMD’s best shots in 2005, including a lawsuit, a slew of antitrust complaints and the ongoing introductions of arguably a better microprocessor design for servers. Yet Intel regained its balance and is still standing, vowing to fire back with a vengeance with products at the 65-nm node in 2006.
Needless to say, it was a memorable year for the two companies. In June, for example, Intel was hit by a suit from rival AMD, which made various claims against its rival.
AMD alleged that its archrival has been operating an unlawful monopoly in the x86 microprocessor market and has coerced computer makers, distributors, small system builders and retailers in their dealings with AMD. The complaint identifies 38 companies that AMD alleges have been victims of coercion by Intel. It also claims seven illegal tactics across three continents.
AMD said Intel had about 80 percent of worldwide x86 microprocessor sales by unit volume and 90 percent by revenue, giving it entrenched monopoly ownership and excessive market power. Intel denied the accusations, with chief executive Paul Otellini saying the company will not alter its practices.
Also, European authorities are probing Intel business practices on their continent. They are receiving help from Japanese officials, who in March managed to get Intel to stop unfair trade practices by its Intel K.K. subsidiary.
And antitrust authorities in Korea in August started looking into shaky rebate and marketing deals Intel has made with personal computer manufacturers there, according to a regulatory filing.
On the marketing front, Intel and AMD are preparing to square off again with next-generation products, which are expected in 2006. In addition, AMD recently opened up its first 300-mm fab.
Not to be outdone, Intel outlined its strategy to fend off competitive pressures from its rivals, especially at the 65-nm node. At an event, Intel re-announced its roadmap of dual-core mobile, desktop and server processors at the 65-nm node. The company also claimed that it will have no less than four wafer fabs in its arsenal that will manufacturer chips based on the 65-nm process.
Overall, Intel has invested more than $4 billion in new fabs and upgrades this year alone. These investments will add over 2,000 jobs for the company, according to Intel.