There may still be some fringe skirmishes but the great war between Intel and AMD is over. And as so ever, the clinching factor comes not from the Socratic method of questioning or the cut and thrust of legal counsels' argument, nor even the quality of mercy droppeth-ing as the gentle rain of heaven. Cash on the nail -- oodles of the stuff -- has done the job instead.

For 20 years now, Intel and AMD have been the George and Mildred of microprocessors, bickering away and scoring points with jabs and jibes, in an occasionally amusing manner. Intel called AMD the Milli Vanilli of semiconductors, AMD condemned Intel as despicable. The nagging became white noise, the ticking of the clock and birdsong.

And (switching similes seamlessly), like boxers that have badmouthed each other to hype a bout, now that the fight is over, Intel and AMD will hug it out and occasionally drop by respective ranches for iced tea to laugh about the old days. AMD will drop all its complaints, including suggestions that regulators pursue Intel for hurt done to consumers that were effectively locked in to a single choice of chip maker for their PCs.

The fact is that, in technology at least, checks and balances tend to work best for the buyer; the courts work well for lawyers and, sometimes, litigants. What's most remarkable is that consumers enjoy tremendous benefits from competition and from the mere threat of such antitrust challenges. PC prices are eye-watering bargains, software has in many cases become free or charged for at a nominal sum.

As I've outlined here before, there will always be legal challenges from smaller companies feeling hard done by, but the consumer is gaining the benefits from a market that ensures, as Intel founder Andy Grove entitled his memoirs, Only The Paranoid Survive.