Sunday, March 5

Backlash against the Intel - Skype insult open source style

People have been alarmed by the agreement between Skype and Intel that only Intell users could do 10 way conference calling. It seemed an obvious slant at AMD, Intel's primary competition, but while it seems to imply that no chips other than Intel can handle the processing it's undoubtably bunk. In fact AMD has sopenaed Skype for information regarding that agreement with Intel in their anti-trust case.

I'm happy to point out that a user has discovered the logic in the Skype prgram which basically descriminates agains any GPU that's not "GenuineIntel" and doesn't have at least a dual core. He then patched it and has released a downloadable patched version of the latest Skype. Everyone can now have 10-user conference calling... well, everyone using windows. No patch for the Mac version. :(

Recently, Skype and Intel have announced a deal that would limit Skype's functionality on all but specific Intel processors. Currently, Skype 2.0 offers 10-way conference calls only on Intel's latest dual-core CPUs, while other chips, including all AMD chips, will only allow for 5-way conference calls. It is argued that only those Intel dual-core CPUs meet the requirements - which would imply that no AMD CPU is fast enough.

Now, what are these requirements? Is there some kind of micro-benchmark built into Skype which measures the processing speed? Or does Skype look for a specific hidden CPU feature? As the details on the patch reveal, the code logic behind the limitation is quite simple:

If it's a CPU with 'GenuineIntel' branding and has at least two cores, then allow 10 users; else limit to 5 users.

More info: Unleashing 10-User Conferencing in Skype 2.0 / Windows for all CPUs

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