AMD is set to pay out $12.1 million to settle a long-running false advertising lawsuit concerning its claim that its FX Bulldozer was the “first native eight-core desktop processor” in adverts.
AMD reasoned that having four Bulldozer modules which each feature two CPU cores was enough to term the FX Bulldozer as an eight-core processor. However, many customers felt deceived, as they were not “real” cores, as they shared resources including a single floating point unit (FPU).
The anger with AMD resulted in a class action lawsuit in 2015, and in January 2019 a judge rejected AMD’s defence that a majority of its customers would count cores the same way it did. The trial continued, and has now resulted in AMD agreeing to pay out a substantial sum of money.
War of words
In the AMD settlement, it explains how “AMD specifically announced that it was the 'world’s first eight-core CPU' – a strategy that highlighted how its product outmatched those of its top competitor, which claimed only six cores,” and that “according to plaintiffs, the 'cores' in the Bulldozer line are actually sub-processors that cannot operate and simultaneously multitask as actual cores. This fundamental difference (among others), plaintiffs alleged, amounted to deception.”
The settlement also suggests the $12.1 million that AMD will pay will result in the participants of the class action lawsuit getting over $35 per purchased chip. “In other words, it is exceedingly likely that participating class members will receive significantly more than 50% of the value of their certified claims had they prevailed at trial.”
So, it seems like a good result for AMD’s customers, and we’re sure AMD is keen to put the whole thing behind it, as it’s a rather dubious stain on its reputation.
But is the ruling fair to AMD? The Register polled its readers and found that 47% agreed that AMD was in the wrong, and that a CPU core should be fully independent, while 28% sided with AMD's claim that a CPU can share execution engines.
The ruling should at least mean that AMD will be more careful – and more transparent – when it advertises the core counts of its processors in the future.