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When AMD chairman Hector Ruiz said he aimed to have a third of the business market five years from now (a claim another company official upped later on to half), it seemed -- well, brash is the only word I can use, given that the company is in the neighborhood of 7 percent market share at the moment. Still, one couldn't help but applaud Ruiz's goals, which I did in this very column just a little more than a month ago.

But it would seem now that Ruiz's competitive strategy isn't going to just be one customer at a time. AMD, rather, is taking on main competition and market-share behemoth Intel in courtrooms all over the planet, charging that Intel has used coercion on customers all up and down the chain -- computer makers, distributors, small system builders and retailers -- to keep them from buying AMD servers, desktops, and other products and to build an illegal monopoly. Sound familiar, Microsoft watchers? All that's missing here is an out-and-out antitrust action, or you'd have the Microsoft battles of recent years all over again. Those took years to play out (and, notably, ended up in settlements much of the time). This will too.

I'm not going to comment on the merits of AMD's suits, Intel's defense, or any other legal matters right now. (That doesn't mean I won't in the future, of course.) And I don't mean to chide AMD for bringing these actions: If it can make its case, more power to it. All I'll point out at the moment is that for you, the server customer, this can end up as a big and unneeded distraction. I doubt this is a case that puts either company out of business or anything close, so you shouldn't need to be concerned about its ramifications for a long time yet, if at all. The only case you need to make is Opteron v. Itanium (or its equivalent) and what the winner means for your business.