WHILE AMD IS HAVING STELLAR YEAR with its latest third-gen Ryzen CPUs, it's also being haunted by an advertising mess left by its old Bulldozer chips.
Following a four-year lawsuit, Team Red has agreed to settle a dispute over how it misadvertised the particulars of its FX Bulldozer processors by coughing up $35 dollars per chip flogged, leading to an overall sum of $12.1m.
The whole situation stemmed from AMD advertising the FX Bulldozer CPUs as being the "first native 8-core desktop processor" available at the time. But it turned out that the processor didn't have eight fully-independent cores; instead, it had four dual-core Bulldozer modules combined to deliver an eight-core chip.
These modules shared cache and other CPU resources, meaning they couldn't work independently of each other.
Folks who splashed out for an FX Bulldozer processor were clearly narked by this, and thus a lawsuit was filed against AMD in 2015.
While AMD defended its advertising claims to begin with, noting that its customers understood what it had done to make the octa-core chip, a California judged didn't agree. So now AMD has decided to settle, and given such settlements tend to reach hundreds of millions of dollars, Team Red seems to have got off lightly.
"The value of the proposed common fund represents a recovery of approximately 20% of the damages Plaintiffs would have sought to prove at trial on behalf of the certified class," the court filing, uploaded by The Register, said.
"And, based on their experience, Class Counsel estimate that claiming class members are likely to receive more than 50 per cent of the value of their certified claims had they prevailed at trial. Given the risks and expenses that further litigation would pose in this case, such a result is well within the range of approval."
A mere $35 for a chip that cost around $250 seems a bit cheeky. But then in such cases, few customers who bought an offending item ever turn up to claim their cash. In this case, the court predicts only a fifth of Bulldozer buyers will come to forward to make the claim.
Nevertheless, the legacy of Bulldozer isn't a great one for AMD, with the chip often being credited as the one that lead to AMD's decline in the processor world before it made its comeback with the Ryzen CPUs in 2017.
Now AMD seems in rude health, which is a good thing as it encourages competition between Team Red and Intel, thereby leading to better processors for PC fans.
But the moral of the story is double check your advertising is on point, especially when it comes to the nuances of chip designs and performance, otherwise it could come back and bite you in the backside. µ
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