This Skype call brought to you by Intel

Earlier this month, Skype announced that it had signed a deal with Intel Corp. which gives users of the company’s new dual-core chips added features when they make VOIP calls with Skype. Specifically, it allows them to engage in conference calls with as many as 10 people, compared with only five for the non-Intel version, and promises additional features such as video calling in the future.

This deal struck some observers as a little odd at the time, since Skype software works with virtually any kind of PC hardware, and voice-over-Internet services aren’t the type of thing that uses huge amounts of computing power. As it turns out, one of the observers who found the partnership more than a little odd was Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s main competitor. AMD just happens to be suing Intel for anti-trust violations resulting from its dominant market share, and it has now asked Skype for documents relating to its deal with Intel.

Skype has denied that it arranged to limit its features on any non-Intel platform. According to the company, the 10-way calling feature requires a lot of processor strength, which only the Intel dual-core can provide. Not surprisingly, AMD disagrees. And some tech industry observers say the argument that a voice-over-Internet service requires extra horsepower stretches the limits of believability — what most VOIP services rely on is bandwidth or Internet connection speed. Others wonder whether Skype, which was bought by eBay in a controversial deal worth up to $4-billion, is getting nervous about growth and looking for some help in that department.

Update:

There is apparently a “patch” that will allow 10-way conference calls on any processor.

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