Wednesday March 29, 2017

Intel Crosses an Unacceptable Ethical Line

Charlie Demerjian at Semiaccurate has an editorial posted where he questions Intel's ethics in regards to their recent P4800X enterprise SSD and the M.2 Xpoint based consumer Optane Memory announcement webcast. It seems that Intel put out a briefing with a slide deck, data points, and fine print showing real world testing of their new product performing better than it really was capable of. After the webcast the slide deck was amended to hide the outlandish performance numbers by selectively removing those slides from the release slide deck. When questioned as to why, Intel dodged the answer until Charlie was finally told that it was done intentionally. Here is a quote from the editorial in his words, "A later phone call with other Intel personnel confirmed that the removal was intentional. Again, completely unacceptable with intent to mislead."

The original deck had 50+ slides detailing performance and the press release deck only had 31. The editorial includes data from some of the omitted slides that show ambiguous testing where the conditions of the test aren't fully known. Or even worse; testing of products in a manner that would never have been a real world situation. Then Intel skipped testing their new product against a consumer grade NAND SSD for fear of it painting their product in a bad light. Instead they created scenarios such as Windows 10 Kaby Lake systems with 4GB of ram outfitted with a mechanical drive going against the P4800X SSD. Then Intel proclaimed their Optane product performance multitudes faster than the competition. By hiding the slides and videos from the presentation, the tech press can only go on memory when writing articles about the product. Charlie implies that it is deceitful and a PR stunt to mislead.

This editorial on Semiaccurate is a must read as it contains many details and some of the missing slides! How do you feel when corporations intentionally mislead their customers and the tech press? Are we just used to it? I think it was sleazy to do so in such a manner as to use the tech press to push your deceitful numbers and dubious testing methodology. Other corporations have done this in the past and it's never okay. Again this is an editorial that deserves a good reading!

News Image

What did Intel do? They put out a briefing with lots of slides, data points, and fine print in the briefing. These gave the impression that the products were far better and more impressive than they were. When the slides were released, several key ones on the P4800X were absent, including almost every one that had real world non-synthetic test results. Worse yet on the M.2 SSD slides, over half were missing including every single one that contained testing data, configurations, and information necessary to back up the claims made in the webcast. This is unacceptable behavior in the best of circumstances.

Moving on, numerically backwards, to the P4800X slides we have the one above, also pulled. It may look innocuous but to legal it probably isn’t. Slides that state benefits without backing data are usually forbidden because it invites lawsuits. Here Intel made three distinct statements for the P4800X and didn’t back them up. Pulling it was probably right but presenting it to the press, making those claims, and then pulling the slides was probably intended to make the press write the claims ‘in their own words’. This is what we called the sleaziest of PR tactics, trying to get the press to write things you know you can’t legally say or claim. Unethical in the extreme.