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Intel and Skype play foul

Intel and Skype play foul tracked down the details behind the recent Intel/Skype announcement, and we recommend you check out the story. In short, the two companies announced a partnership last week that involves Skype designating Intel dual-core chips its preferred hardware for a limited time. If your PC has an Intel Pentium D in it, it will let you run up to a 10-person conference call, compared to the 5-person limit it applies to single-core systems, and more ominously, dual-core AMD Athlon X2-based PCs as well.

The problem is that the Intel chips' added capabilities granted aren't the result of any special VoIP sauce that AMD's chips don't have. By all appearances, the benefit to Intel-based PCs exists only because Intel and Skype signed a partnership. If the the software allowed it, chances are that a dual-core AMD chip could handle Skype just as well as an Intel chip, if not better.

On one level, these tactics are nothing new. Graphics card vendors have been doing it for years by partnering with various game developers to "optimize" for a specific GPU. Still, we've never liked the idea of placing artificial limits on technology, especially with no warning to consumers. Not that VoIP is the most vital task out there, but if you recently purchased an AMD Athlon X2 PC, we can't imagine that it felt too good waking up to the news that Skype sold you out.