Former AMD boss, Hector Ruiz, spills beans on Intel scrap

Former AMD boss Hector Ruiz has penned a book which tells of the story of his outfit’s anti-trust war with Intel.

The book, seen by the Wall Street Journal, tells the story of how in 2005, AMD took on Intel in court claiming that it had used illegal tactics in the market for microprocessor chips.

The book with the catchy title “Slingshot,” and subtitled “AMD’s Fight To Free An Industry From The Ruthless Grip Of Intel” is 200 pages liberally splattered with David versus Goliath imagery.

While Intel did pay AMD $1.25 billion as part of a 2009 settlement, after Ruiz had left the company, it never admitted doing anything wrong.

To this day Intel is saying it did not violate any law and consumers benefited from its business practices.

Ruiz writes himself into the story as a David character. After all he hails from a small town in Mexico, learnt many moral lessons from relatives and teachers and overcame early difficulties mastering English to score a doctorate from Rice University.

As you would expect, most of the book deals with why Ruiz took the risk of attacking Intel in court, which was dubbed Project Slingshot.

Although the two outfits had legal battles as early as the 1980s, suddenly AMD introduced a particularly strong lineup of chips but failed to gain as much market share.

Big US and Asian PC makers were getting excited about using AMD’s products, only to back away under what Ruiz said were Intel financial inducements or threats.

The book quotes internal company emails and are straight from the various legal documents released by AMD, the FTC, the state of New York and antitrust regulators in Europe, Japan and South Korea.

What the book adds are details on how Ruiz and other AMD executives developed their legal strategies.

Ruiz reveals how Nvidia had been AMD’s first preference to buy to add graphics-chip expertise, but the deal failed because Nvidia’s boss wanted to take over as chairman of AMD and charge them an arm and a leg for the privilege. AMD bought ATI.

The book also explains how AMD fell in with the rich Abu Dhabi set and were actually match-made into a closer position thanks to its involvement in Ferrari.

The introduction helped lead to a meeting with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the spinning off AMD’s manufacturing operations.

Ruiz said it was one of the most difficult moments in his career; he decided he had to join the manufacturing company to reassure the investors about his commitment.

The book failed to mention Ruiz’s association with the Galleon insider-trading case. He was outed by the Wall Street Journal in November 2009 claiming that he was the AMD executive accused in a federal complaint of sharing advance information about the chip-manufacturing venture.

Ruiz was never accused of wrong doing, but stepped down a couple of months earlier than expected as Globalfoundries’ chairman.

He said that he found the settlement with Intel disappointing. While he never expected the lawsuit to go to trial, he did hope that Chipzilla would admit anti-trust behaviour.

Ruiz also thought AMD merited damages well beyond he $1.25 billion

He felt a lot better after Intel’s FTC settlement, which contained restrictions on Intel’s behaviour. He said that there were “spiritual benefits” of simply doing what AMD employees were convinced was the right thing.