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NVidia, AMD Subpoenaed In Antitrust Investigation 132

Posted by Zonk
from the business-of-making-shinies dept.
mustardayonnaise writes "CNN Money is reporting that graphics chipmakers Nvidia and AMD (who recently acquired NVidia rival ATI) said Friday that they received subpoenas from the US Department of Justice as part of a probe into potential antitrust violations involving graphics processing units and cards. Each company controls about 25% of the entire graphics chip market. According to the article, Intel, who makes their own fair share of graphics chipsets, has yet to be included in the investigation."
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NVidia, AMD Subpoenaed In Antitrust Investigation

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  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by soft_guy (534437) on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:55PM (#17072200)

    I don't get it...what is the DOJ's angle here? There is real competition in the graphics card market, more so then the processor market and definately more then say...the operating system market.
     
    Why are they going after these guys anyway?
    Probably they didn't contribute enough money to the Bush re-election campaign.
  • by dsginter (104154) on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:56PM (#17072212)
    Is is just a coincidence that both Nvidia and ATI were each awarded Xbox contracts (Nvidia = Xbox, ATI = Xbox 360)? Perhaps there was some behind the scenes deals to thwart the development of FOSS graphics drivers.

    With the top two graphics chip companies controlling the majority of the market, this could have happened. Perhaps the "patented code" in the drivers that prevents them from opening the source is Microsoft-owned?

    I know that it will never happen, but it would be nice to bring it up just in case someone is listening.
  • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:01PM (#17072292) Homepage
    "well, don't buy chips from that other upstart company".

    Frankly, as a consumer, I wouldn't buy a graphics card from an upstart (or a board that has built in graphics from an upstart). It's a chicken-egg problem.

    Many folks got stuck with 3d hardware cards and no company and/or no supported drivers... with Nvidia (dunno about ATI), you can take their TNT2 card and still get it to work with their -current- drivers (even on Linux!). Had it been some unknown-brand card, you might not even get X to come up (and have to use Windows in VGA mode).

    So yeah... competition sucks. What a small corp can do is compete on openness. Sure, I'd buy some unknown brand if it follows some open standard, has open source drivers, and works with Linux out of the box. In fact, that's the only way I see how a small corp can get ahead in this business.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:02PM (#17072312) Homepage
    Well since there is no mention of what is actually alleged to be the problem, I can't really say whether or not this investigation has any merit. Certainly neither company has a monopoly, so the only thing I can think of is that the DOJ suspects some kind of collusion (the 'trust' in 'anti-trust' refers to multiple organizations agreeing to lock out competitors, not just individual monopolies).

    Frankly I'm not going to assume anything. Yeah, the graphics card market is competitive and NVidia and ATI have done a very nice job of leapfrogging each other over and over into the stratospheres of graphics performance, and I hope that doesn't change. However if they are using illegal business tactics to ensure it doesn't become a 3-way race, then that has to stop. Kinda like when Rambus (*spits*) turned around and sued the Dramurai, who it turned out were colluding to control prices and lock out Rambus (*spits*).

    Of course I'd rather they spent their time worrying about all the other things, but I'm sure it's not an either-or proposition, and again we're operating under a dearth of facts. Though I'll admit that unlike anti-trust action against Microsoft and Intel, I'm not already aware of shady business practices on the part of these two companies that would warrant it.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:02PM (#17072322) Homepage
    The number of times this particular order of events happens in the tech world qualifies it as Standard Operating Procedure.

    I didn't RTFA, I'm more interested to hear the chain of events that got the DOJ started on this particular issue. As I recall, it was intense lobbying in DC by Microsoft's competitors that finally got them into trouble.

    Which competitor(s) got the DOJ started on this one? Microsoft? Intel? ?
  • Re:by that token (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rwven (663186) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:39PM (#17072992)
    That's not what the parent meant... He meant "why isn't the goverment going after AMD *and* Intel just like they're going after AMD *and* NVIDIA."

    This is "gov't vs. business," not "business vs business" like the current AMD and Intel case.
  • by mysteryvortex (854738) on Friday December 01, 2006 @07:12PM (#17075562)
    you can take their TNT2 card and still get it to work with their -current- drivers (even on Linux!)

    You may want to take a look at Nvidia's list of currently supported cards. [nvidia.com] Let me know if you see the TNT2 on there. In fact, this Gentoo Nvidia guide [gentoo.org] clearly shows the TNT2 in their "list of unsupported legacy video cards."

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