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Can The European Commission Prevent Intel From Destroying AMD?

The European Commission might have handled semiconductor giant Intel a massive fine of nearly one billion pound sterling but it is likely to be a small consolation for AMD, Intel's only surviving rival.

The battered x86 chip manufacturer has long managed to live and breathe alongside its illustrious competitor and the Opteron/Athlon 64 era has allowed it to thrive just a little bit.

Intel's shares have hardly blipped despite the fine and Wall Street recorded a rather dull day with Intel's share price closing down by half a percent while AMD's went up by a similar proportion.

Intel's market capitalisation is $85 billion, that of AMD $3 billion and to put things in perspective, Intel spends more than $5 billion on research and development alone.

This shows without doubt the clout of a company which produced a gross profit of $20.8 billion last year and hold assets of more than $50 billion in 2008.

In comparison, AMD share price dropped by almost 90 percent over the last 3 years (Intel went down 27 percent) and the company had to split up, taking in more debt in order to survive.

Abu Dhabi invested more than $6 billion in the company's Spin Off (The Foundry Company) back in February 2009. But then what if AMD fails?

And yes, the issue here is about the survival of AMD. Intel has become too powerful like AT&T in its heydays. Each new AMD product is only pushing away what seems to be ineluctable and only governmental intervention (or a white knight like Apple or IBM) can prevent Intel from becoming an absolute monopoly.

As Anand Lai Shimpi from popular tech website puts it "I'm far less concerned about who pulls ahead [...] and far more concerned about AMD's health at the end of all of this. Maybe the right way of looking at this isn't by talking about a 6% performance advantage, but instead talking about whether or not you want there to be a real competitor to Intel in the future."

It will remind the wiser generation of the 25-year battle between the bloodied Chimpzilla and the heavy weight Chipzilla. And lest not forget the likes of IDT, Cyrix, Nexgen or Digital which were part of the story as well. We don't want longer product cycles and $1000 microprocessors ever again.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.