AMD's Top Exec Challenges Intel, Dell

Though Advanced Micro Devices is demonstrating clear growth -- the company expects to double its market share in 2006 and is committed to being the dominant provider of server chips by the end of the decade -- Hector Ruiz, AMD's chairman, CEO and president, said a recent antitrust suit against Intel is still valid. Yes, AMD has been growing at a good clip, but growth would be higher if it were unhampered by unfair competitive practices by Intel, Ruiz charged.

"Imagine how much faster we could grow if we are not impeded," he said in a meeting with journalists after the conference.

Henri Richard, executive vice president of sales and marketing of the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker, put it another way: "If you are a criminal and did a lot of bad things two years ago that doesn't mean you are still not a criminal."

AMD lodged the compliant against Intel in June, alleging Intel offered exclusive deals for outright cash payments, controlled OEMs by restricting rebates and MDF, and threatened retaliation for using competing products, among other issues. In a previous statement, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini has denied AMD's charges.

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Ruiz said AMD has seen some improvements but there are still problems. "The place where there have been obvious changes is in the government procurement area," he said, noting that government sales have picked up significantly.

"Anecdotally, some customers are a little spunky," he said. "They have gotten their swagger back and are looking at ways to do things with us."

One customer everyone is wondering about is Dell. The long-time Intel-only systems maker recently picked up retail boxed Athalon processors and sparked industry rumors that systems with AMD-inside would be next.

Both companies have not commented on a potential partnership beyond saying Dell regularly evaluates AMD's technology. At the conference, executives said current manufacturing estimates do not take into account any potential orders from Dell, perhaps suggesting a deal is not eminent. But they noted that AMD can shift resources and meet demand should it come up.

Ruiz said Dell, which recently reported disappointing third quarter results, is looking at a loss of market share if its sticks with Intel exclusively. "Next year we expect to have 20 percent of the market and that means Dell is out that 20 percent," he said.