AMD to make x86 cross-license public, if Intel drops secrecy hold on anti-trust evidence

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Sunnyvale (CA) – Yesterday, Intel offered AMD the option of making the terms of the x86 cross-licensing deal public. AMD agreed, but with one caveat of their own: They want Intel to lift the secrecy demand on all antitrust evidence submitted by AMD. AMD wants the world to see the evidence, just as Intel wants the world to see the x86 cross-licensing agreement. Ah, the power of bargaining chips.

As we reported yesterday, Intel had sent AMD official notification that unless their concerns over the x86 cross-licensing patents are resolved, Intel would be pulling its cross-licensing agreement in 60 days due to a “material breach” of contract by AMD. AMD immediately fired back in an SEC filing stating that it had done nothing wrong, and that by threatening AMD in this way it was actually Intel who was in material breach.

The x86 cross-license agreement allows both companies to produce x86 chips using any technology developed by either party as an extension of x86 (such as 64-bit extensions, MIMD (MMX/SSE/3DNow) revisions/additions, virtualization, the no-execute bit, etc.). Any added extension or revision can be used by the other party under the terms of the agreement, which has remained unpublished since being signed.

This situation dates back to a requirement IBM had in the earliest days of the original IBM PC manufacturing, namely that IBM not receive products from a single-source vendor (8088/86 producing Intel at that time). IBM insisted there be at least two manufacturers of the same CPUs and related chips so that if one failed, the other could keep going. Enter AMD.

Yesterday, Intel spokesman, Chuck Mulloy, said “[Intel is] willing to make the entire [x86 cross-license] agreement public. We’ve told AMD we would be fine with making the entire agreement public. AMD has declined to do so.”

AMD is willing to make the agreement public provided Intel lifts a type of secrecy demand currently in place for evidence collected in AMD’s antitrust lawsuit against Intel. AMD has allegedly collected evidence which they believe demonstrates Intel acted in monopolistic ways. AMD’s condition for meeting Intel’s wishes of making the x86 cross-license agreement public is to have Intel lift its confidentiality demand in the 2006 anti-trust case.

Said AMD’s Patrick Moorehead, VP of marketing, “We will make the entire cross-license agreement public if they drop their insistence on secrecy on the evidence in the U.S. antitrust case.”

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