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Intel protests

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Intel has lost the latest tussle with FTC lawyers in the run up to its antitrust case. Under protest, the chip giant is handing over historic pricing information to the FTC. It says the data is irrelevant, but the FTC insists it needs the information Intel’s mastery of the product life cycle is reflected in a pricing matrix which sees older chips heavily discounted to make way for new models. End-of-life chips enjoy a long retirement as even cheaper embeds for lifts or washing machines. (This avenue may not be particularly appropriate for the superpowerful Pentium III of today … or next week. Think how much a PIII-powered toaster would cost – even after allowing for the fact that you wouldn’t need a toasting element to burn the bread.) So far, so uncontroversial. But has Intel changed its pricing strategy in response to upstarts AMD and NetSemi-Cyrix in the last couple of years? The FTC will look for evidence that Intel is accelerating price cuts for new chips, to back up its argument that the chip vendor is abusing its dominant market position. The war of words begins in earnest on 9 March, the first day of FTC-Intel antitrust trial. ®

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