Advanced Micro Devices Inc has served Skype Technologies SA a subpoena demanding documentation relating to a new Skype feature for Intel-only machines, as part of its ongoing antitrust case against Intel Corp.
The new feature in Skype 2.0 enables 10-way voice conference calls only on machines powered with Intel dual-core processors. For users of all other computers, the maximum number of people they can host on a Skype conference call is five.
When Skype and Intel announced the deal earlier this month, Skype claimed only Intel’s chips had the performance required to host a 10-person call.
But AMD refutes this claim and said the 10-way calling feature was disabled, at Intel’s request, for users of AMD computers.
This is an artificial limitation, said AMD spokesperson Michael Silverman. Indeed, the details we know strongly suggest there is absolutely no technological basis for this exclusive arrangement.
The Skype 2.0 software runs a CPU ID check to see which processor is sitting in the motherboard of the PC. If that CPU is not an Intel dual core chip, the software disables the 10-way feature, Silverman said.
Skype has said that Intel exclusivity of the 10-way feature is temporary in nature, he said. That only strengthens our argument that there’s no technological reason for the 10-way feature to be limited to Intel dual core.
As AMD sees it, if consumers who have AMD processors in their PCs will be permitted to run 10-way call at some future point, whenever the ‘temporary’ nature of this exclusivity deal ends, they should be able to run 10-way calling today just as easily, Silverman said.
This is yet another way that Intel uses its monopoly power, and it is illegal for a monopoly to maintain its power through anticompetitive practices, he said. This may well be the latest example of those practices, and that’s why we served Skype with the subopoena.
Skype declined to comment on whether the performance of its software had also been tested on AMD or other non-Intel dual-core chips.
AMD’s subpoena seeks any analyses or documents that would show proof of such a comparison. AMD also is demanding all documents, electronic and paper, relating to its dealings with Intel since the beginning of 2000.
eBay-owned Skype also declined to comment on the subpoena. Skype has just become aware of the document and our lawyers are reviewing it. We do not comment on any on going legal issues, said a Skype spokesperson.
An Intel spokesperson confirmed there was no specific technology written in the company’s Core Duo processor architecture to optimize a 10-way Skype call.
That AMD has subpoenaed Skype was no surprise, given that AMD had already sent subpoenas to about 50 companies as part of its current litigation against Intel, said Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy.
AMD last June filed a civil antitrust suit against the world’s biggest chipmaker, Intel. Among its claims, AMD alleged Intel bribed and threatened customers with retaliatory action if they bought chips from underdog AMD.
Intel has emphatically responded that its customer discounts were not illegal and that is has not broken the law.
We think that once we go through the litgaiton process, the courts will come to the conclusion that our business practices are fair and lawful, Mulloy said.
In Skype’s subpoena, AMD asked for documents relating to any financial inducement from Intel, including payments, rebates or discounts on any Intel product, as well as exceptions to corporate approved pricing.
The subpoena also demanded documents that may relate to Skype receiving any market development funds, meeting competition payments or any advertising or pricing support from Intel.