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Intel cripples programs on AMD chips

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Intel's compilers recognise when they're running on an AMD processor, and generates code that either degrades performance or causes it to crash. That's one of the many accusations in AMD's lengthy document of complaints against Intel in its recent lawsuit against the chip giant.

The paragraph in question, number 123, reads:

"Intel has designed its compiler purposely to degrade performance when a program is run on an AMD platform. To achieve this, Intel designed the compiler to compile code along several alternate code paths. Some paths are executed when the program runs on an Intel platform and others are executed when the program is operated on a computer with an AMD microprocessor. (The choice of code path is determined when the program is started, using a feature known as "CPUID" which identifies the computer's microprocessor.) By design, the code paths were not created equally. If the program detects a "Genuine Intel" microprocessor, it executes a fully optimized code path and operates with the maximum efficiency. However, if the program detects an "Authentic AMD" microprocessor, it executes a different code path that will degrade the program's performance or cause it to crash."

Among the other issues raised by AMD were:

- That Intel used illegal subsidies to win sales and, in some cases, threatened companies with "severe consequences" for using or selling AMD products.

- That Intel has allegedly abused its dominate market position by forcing major customers into exclusive deals in return for outright cash payments, discriminatory pricing or marketing subsidies.

Following AMD's accusations, representatives of the European Commission and of national competition authorities carried out on-site inspections of several Intel offices and of the offices of an undisclosed number of PC manufacturers, as part of "an ongoing competition investigation", according to an EC spokeswoman.

By Manek Dubash

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