In a shocking piece of news, it has been revealed that the Intel Compiler, which is widely used in creating most computer programs, deliberately slows down the performance of non-Intel processors like AMD and VIA CPUs.
This particularly anti competitive method undertaken by Intel was revealed during the chipmaker’s antitrust lawsuit settlement with AMD in which Intel ended up paying $1.25 billion to AMD.
As a part of a sub-clause in the settlement documents, Intel has been told by the US International Trade Commission to stop ‘crippling’ AMD processors.
It was found that when a program is run on two functionally similar processors, one Intel’s and the other AMD’s, the program will run 47 times faster on Intel’s chip as Intel Compiler detects if it is being run on an Intel chip or not. If not, then the compiler produces a slow, less optimised code.
Acclaimed programming expert Agner Fog wrote on his blog that the compiler has a system which detects which type of CPU it is running on and then chooses the optimal code for that CPU.
The Intel Compiler also checks the CPU vendor ID string; if the vendor is “Genuine Intel” then it chooses the optimal code, however, if the CPU is not form Intel then the compiler is programmed to run the slowest possible version of the code.
This could be considered as an appalling situation. Credits to AMD for coming up with processors that can still match Intel's for significantly less. Trying to win a fight fairly in the computer hardware world appears to be a very difficult task indeed.