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FTC: Intel has until 2013 to tweak tablet chip

Intel must add an interface to its tablet-centric chip by 2013, according to a modified FTC order concerning the settlement reached in August.

Intel has until 2013 to add an interface to the tablet-centric version of its Atom processor, as device makers are targeting the chip for Netbooks, the Federal Trade Commission said in a "modified settlement order" today.

"The agreement reached in August is now final but there is a minor modification to it," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said today. "That modification is related to Oak Trail, which is for a tablet computer design. Some OEMs (device makers) have decided to design it into a Netbook-type device and under the definitions of the agreement, that made it a computer," Mulloy said.

The net effect is that the PCI Express interface will have to be added by 2013. "So, by the time we get to 2013 you could expect some kind of successor product that would be in compliance with the FTC consent decree," Mulloy added.

The FTC settlement with Intel in August ordered Intel to, among other things, maintain that key computer interface on its chips for at least six years "in a way that will not limit the performance of graphics-processing chips." The FTC said at that time that it hoped to provide a path for Nvidia and others to offer "complementary, and potentially competitive, products" to Intel's CPUs.