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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday modified its recent antitrust agreement with Intel to exclude Intel's Atom processor for tablet PCs, code-named Oak Trail.
The FTC said Intel will not be required to maintain the PCI Express Bus on Oak Trail until 2013, though it will be required to do so on its other processors. Oak Trail, which is scheduled to begin shipping next year, was exempted from this requirement because the new Atom line was in development prior to the initial agreement.
The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel in December, in which it accused the chipmaker of seeking to undermine sales of two of its competitors, AMD and Nvidia. The settlement nine months later called on Intel to stop paying PC makers for shunning competing products from rivals like AMD. The agreement was welcomed by many system builders who believe that such practices undermine competition.
"I don't know that it levels the playing field, it just gives validation to what many system builders have suspected for several years about some of Intel's pricing and the way that they conduct business." said Frank Pivonka, co-CEO of Assured Computing Technology, a Bedford, N.H.-based system builder.
"We're an Intel partner as well as an AMD partner and we walk a line between the two depending on what they do," Pivonka said. "AMD doesn't have anything that is even comparable to the Atom, that's why we've had to standardize on that form factor."