The European (Socialist) Union has decided to fine Intel Corp. for roughly $1.5 billion for “antitrust” activities. (No, I’m not going to provide easy links this time. Look it up.) This is problematic to traditional Americans on a number of levels.
Anti-trust and -monopoly laws were enacted in order to protect consumers against companies that garnered a corner on a market and then raised their prices. Yes, I italicized and bolded that word. For a number of years I was a big critic of Intel, not because of their success, but because they tried to cover up the mathematical issues with the first generations of their Pentium processors. (Said cover ups are well documented on the web if you do a little homework.) In recent years, however, Intel has done consumers a great benefit by providing processors which provide greater processing power with less electric power consumption at a lower cost.
Reread that last sentence. More power. Less electricity. Fewer $$ out of my wallet. Where, exactly, is the harm to consumers? Do you really understand that the average American company can now construct (out of off-the-shelf components) a computer that would rival the power of a multi-million dollar Cray supercomputer of just 10 years ago at a fraction of the cost? Intel is entirely responsible for that.
Disclaimer: I’m currently employed as a factory automation software engineer by a French/Italian semiconductor manufacturer who stands to benefit if Intel is punitively fined by the EU.
Back to that italicized, bolded word: raised. The fact is that as Intel has made their processors more powerful and simultaneously power-efficient (i.e., more miles less gas). If, in the process, they had garnered a corner on the market and raised prices, there might conceivably be a legal argument that they had violated some anti-trust laws. The fact is, however, that as Intel has made its processors more attractive for technological reasons, they have simultaneously made them cheaper. No matter how loudly AMD may scream that Intel is a monopoly (or whatever) the truth is that Intel has made its processors better and less expensive. (Are there specific applications for which AMD processors are better? Sure. But in general, Intel CPUs are cheaper for the same power.)
Second disclaimer: I’m a long-time Macintosh fan and have both an Intel-powered laptop and an old IBM/Motorola-powered G5 tower. My older G5 machine is used to perform video and audio processes that the current Intel CPUs still don’t match (Apple and Intel propaganda notwithstanding). The Intel laptop is used for the easy, daily stuff (where most consumers live) like email and FaceBook.
So let’s count it up. I’m a Mac fan who works for a company that would benefit from a big Intel fine. Not exactly a good profile for a defender of Intel, eh? But that’s what I am. Intel stands for everything that the lefties in Europe hate & that I love. Performance. Power. Low cost. Hyundai is going to beat BMW & Chrysler/GM/Ford in America for that very reason (they own that trifecta).
Aaargh! I got away from the main point again. The bolded, italicized word was, “raised.” The truth is that, wherever you live on this planet, Intel has made it possible for you to do things with your personal computer (whether you use Windows, Linux or OS X) that you could not have imagined doing just 10 years ago at a fraction of the cost. The only issue this raises is the opportunities for “the rest of us”.
Punish that at your peril.