Intel and the Federal Trade Commission have settled an antitrust suit
today after the chip giant agreed on a number of provisions that could have big implications for rivals like AMD, Nvidia, and Via Technologies. Among other things, the settlement prohibits Intel from using threats, bundled prices, or other offers to exclude or hamper sales of rival CPUs and GPUs by computer manufacturers and retailers.
Intel is also required to extend its licensing agreement with Taiwan-based Via Technologies Inc for its x86 computer architecture for five years beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2013, and revise its intellectual property agreements with other chipmakers so they can feel free to evaluate mergers or joint ventures with other businesses without fear of being sued by Intel for patent infringement -- a clear reference to AMD's GlobalFoundries spinoff.
Furthermore, Intel must maintain the PCI Express Bus interface "in a way that will not limit the performance of graphics processing chips" for at least six years and it must disclose when their compilers discriminate between Intel chips and non-Intel chips in any way that could result in code running less efficiently with competing microprocessors.
Intel isn't admitting to any wrongdoing, however, and merely notes that the move allows it "to put an end to the expense and distraction of the FTC litigation." The complete settlement terms are available in a PDF document here
, if you care to go through the whole legalese. What doesn't seem to be covered is the chipset licensing snafu that currently prevents Nvidia from making chipsets compatible with Nehalem-based CPUs.