AMD's lawyers call on Skype

Exclusive deal with Intel on 10-way conference calling feature results in a subpoena from AMD as part of its antitrust case.

As part of its ongoing antitrust case against Intel, Advanced Micro Devices on Tuesday served Skype with a subpoena demanding documents related to its deal to make one feature in Skype 2.0 available exclusively to Intel users.

The legal filing joins a long list of subpoenas AMD has filed in search of evidence that Intel has used its dominant market share of x86 PC and server processors to prevent AMD from winning business with certain partners. Intel has denied those accusations, and the companies are preparing for an antitrust trial that promises to reveal loads of details about the inner workings of the PC industry.

AMD is now focusing on a feature in Skype 2.0 that enables the ability to make 10-person conference calls only with Intel dual-core processors. Users with AMD dual-core chips or single-core chips are restricted to hosting five-person conference calls because only Intel's chips offer the performance necessary to host the 10-way call, according to Skype.

AMD disagrees. It believes Intel has provided Skype with incentives to limit the feature to Intel's chips, said Chuck Diamond, a partner with O'Melveny & Myers and lead counsel in AMD's antitrust suit against Intel. Intel has denied doing so, but even if no financial incentives were included in the deal, as a company with dominant market share, Intel is subject to different rules, he said.

"The law requires a monopolist to compete on the merits. This is not competition on the merits," Diamond said.

A Skype executive declined to comment earlier this month when asked whether the company had tested the performance of its software on both Intel's and AMD's dual-core chips. An Intel representative confirmed that there are no instructions that specifically enhance the performance of voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software like Skype's in Intel's dual-core chips. He also said that Skype's software is using a function called "GetCPUID" to permit 10-way conference calls only when that function detects an Intel dual-core processor on start-up.

A Skype representative had no immediate comment on the subpoena. An Intel representative declined to comment.

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