BRUSSELS - The European Union fined Intel a record 1.06 billion euros ($1.44 billion) yesterday over sales tactics it said the world's biggest computer chip maker used to block smaller rival AMD.
The fine exceeded a 899 million euros monopoly abuse penalty for Microsoft last year.Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, has about 80 percent of the world's personal computer microprocessor market - and faces just one real rival, Advanced Micro Devices, or AMD.
The European Commission says Intel broke EU competition law by exploiting its dominant position with a deliberate strategy to keep AMD out of the market.It says the company gave rebates to computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC for buying all or almost all their x86 computer processing units, or CPUs, from Intel and paid them to stop or delay the launch of computers based on AMD chips.
Regulators said Intel also paid German electronics retailer, Media Saturn Holding - which owns MediaMarkt - from 2002 to 2007 to only stock Intel-based computers. This meant workers at AMD's biggest European plant in Dresden could not buy AMD-based personal computers at their city's main PC store. "Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for years," said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. "Such a serious and sustained violation of the EU's antitrust rules cannot be tolerated."
EU regulators said they calculated Intel's fine on the value of its European chip sales over the five years and three months that it broke the law.