The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is preparing an antitrust lawsuit against Intel Corporation, makers of the world's most popular microprocessors. According to a report in USA Today on Tuesday that cites sources close to the investigation, the FTC will file a suit based on Intel's practice of withholding key technologies and information from companies it is fighting with. Intel has come under fire recently from Digital, which it settled with, and Intergraph, makers of high-end PC workstations. When Intergraph sued Intel for patent violations, Intel withheld access to pre-release materials regarding upcoming microprocessors.

When asked about the suit, Intergraph CEO Jim Meadlock said it made sense.

"I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "I think the judge's ruling where he said he thought we would prevail in the contention that they did have a monopoly position--that's what's of concern to the FTC."

The FTC is also investigating whether Intel was forcing PC manufacturers to buy special Intel parts--the motherboard and other chips--that were needed to work with Intel's latest Pentium II microprocessors. Before the Pentium II, PC makers were free to use parts from a variety of vendors