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Feds kills ATI and Nvidia price-fix probe

Dropped like a hot chip

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The US Department of Justice has dropped its two-year investigation of Nvidia and ATI over suspicions the companies conspired to fix graphics chip prices.

Both chip makers said they received letters from the DoJ indicating the probe formally concluded with no action taken.

Although little was known about specifics of the investigation, in December 2006, the companies confirmed receipt of subpoenas by the agency. The DoJ simply stated it was looking into: "The possibility of anticompetitive practices involving the graphics processing units and cards industry."

ATI and Nvidia eagerly note that no specific allegations were made against them during investigation.

No such vagueness was tossed about in a separate private antitrust suit filed against the chip makers in Northern California District Court. Court filings allege the companies: "Conducted numerous secret meetings and communications in which they conspired to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize prices of GPUs sold in the United States."

Both companies denied the accusations, but agreed to an out-of-court settlement in exchange for all claims being dismissed. Each agreed to pay $850,000 as a part of the deal announced in September.®

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