Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (abbreviated AMD; NYSE: AMD) is an American company that manufactures semiconductors. It is based in Sunnyvale, California and was founded in 1969 by a group of former executives from Fairchild Semiconductor, including Jerry Sanders, III, Ed Turney, John Carey, Sven Simonsen, Jack Gifford and three members from Gifford's team, Frank Botte, Jim Giles, and Larry Stenger. The current chairman and chief executive officer is Dr. Héctor Ruiz and the current president and chief operating officer is Dirk Meyer.
AMD is the world's second-largest supplier of computer processors based on the x86 architecture, and the third-largest supplier of graphics cards and graphics processing units (GPUs), after taking control of ATI Technologies in 2006. AMD also owns a 21% share of Spansion, a supplier of non-volatile flash memory. In 2007 AMD ranked eleventh among semiconductor manufacturers.
AMD started as a producer of logic chips in 1969, then entered the RAM chip business in 1975. That same year, it introduced a reverse-engineered clone of the Intel 8080 microprocessor. During this period, AMD also designed and produced a series of bit-slice processor elements (Am2900, Am29116, Am293xx) which were used in various minicomputer designs.
During this time, AMD attempted to embrace the perceived shift towards RISC with their own AMD 29K processor, and they attempted to diversify into graphics and audio devices as well as EPROM memory. It had some success in the mid-80s with the AMD7910 and AMD7911 "World Chip" FSK modem, one of the first multistandard devices that covered both Bell and CCITT tones at up to 1200 baud half duplex or 300/300 full duplex. While the AMD 29K survived as an embedded processor and AMD spinoff Spansion continues to make industry leading flash memory, AMD was not as successful with its other endeavors. AMD decided to switch gears and concentrate solely on Intel-compatible microprocessors and flash memory. This put them in direct competition with Intel for x86 compatible processors and their flash memory secondary markets.
It has been reported in December 2006 that AMD along with its main rival in the graphics industry nVidia, received subpoenas from the Justice Department regarding possible antitrust violations in the graphics card industry, including the act of fixing prices.
Litigation with Intel
AMD has a long history of litigation with former partner and x86 creator Intel.
- In 1986 Intel broke an agreement it had with AMD to allow them to produce Intel's micro-chips for IBM; AMD filed for arbitration in 1987 and the arbitrator decided in AMD's favor in 1992. Intel disputed this, and the case ended up in the Supreme Court of California. In 1994, that court upheld the arbitrator's decision and awarded damages for breach of contract.
- In 1990, Intel brought a copyright infringement action alleging illegal use of its 287 microcode. The case ended in 1994 with a jury finding for AMD and its right to use Intel's microcode in its microprocessors through the 486 generation.
- In 1997, Intel filed suit against AMD and Cyrix Corp. for misuse of the term MMX. AMD and Intel settled, with AMD acknowledging MMX as a trademark owned by Intel, and with Intel granting AMD rights to market the AMD K6 MMX processor.
- In 2005, following an investigation, the Japan Federal Trade Commission found Intel guilty on a number of violations. On June 27, 2005, AMD won an antitrust suit against Intel in Japan, and on the same day, AMD filed a broad antitrust complaint against Intel in the U.S. Federal District Court in Delaware. The complaint alleges systematic use of secret rebates, special discounts, threats, and other means used by Intel to lock AMD processors out of the global market. Since the start of this action, The Court has issued subpoenas to major computer manufacturers including Dell, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Sony, and Toshiba.
Merger with ATI
AMD announced a merger with ATI Technologies on July 24, 2006. AMD paid $4.3 billion in cash and 58 million shares of its stock for a total of US$5.4 billion. The merger completed on October 25, 2006 and ATI is now part of AMD.
AMD x86 processors
8086, Am286, Am386, Am486, Am5x86
In February 1982, AMD signed a contract with Intel, becoming a licensed second-source manufacturer of 8086 and 8088 processors. IBM wanted to use the Intel 8088 in its IBM PC, but IBM's policy at the time was to require at least two sources for its chips. AMD later produced the Am286 under the same arrangement, but Intel canceled the agreement in 1986 and refused to convey technical details of the i386 part.
AMD challenged Intel's decision to cancel the agreement and won in arbitration, but Intel disputed this decision. A long legal dispute followed, ending in 1994 when the Supreme Court of California sided with AMD. Subsequent legal disputes centered on whether AMD had legal rights to use derivatives of Intel's microcode. In the face of uncertainty, AMD was forced to develop "clean room" versions of Intel code.
In 1991, AMD released the Am386, its clone of the Intel 386 processor. It took less than a year for the company to sell a million units. Later, the Am486 was used by a number of large OEMs, including Compaq, and proved popular. Another Am486-based product, the Am5x86, continued AMD's success as a low-price alternative. However, as product cycles shortened in the PC industry, the process of reverse engineering Intel's products became an ever less viable strategy for AMD.
 K5, K6, Athlon (K7)
AMD's first completely in-house x86 processor was the K5 which was launched in 1996. The "K" was a reference to "Kryptonite", which from comic book lore, was the only substance that could harm Superman, with a clear reference to Intel, which dominated in the market at the time, as "Superman".
In 1996, AMD purchased NexGen specifically for the rights to their Nx series of x86-compatible processors. AMD gave the NexGen design team their own building, left them alone, and gave them time and money to rework the Nx686. The result was the K6 processor, introduced in 1997.
The K7 was AMD's seventh generation x86 processor, making its debut on June 23, 1999, under the brand name Athlon. On October 9, 2001 the Athlon XP was released, followed by the Athlon XP with 512KB L2 Cache on February 10, 2003.
Athlon 64 (K8)
The K8 is a major revision of the K7 architecture, with the most notable features being the addition of a 64-bit extension to the x86 instruction set (officially called AMD64), the incorporation of an on-chip memory controller, and the implementation of an extremely high performance point-to-point interconnect called HyperTransport, as part of the Direct Connect Architecture. The technology was initially launched as the Opteron server-oriented processor. Shortly thereafter it was incorporated into a product for desktop PCs, branded Athlon 64.
Dual-core Athlon 64 X2
AMD released the first dual core Opteron, an x86-based server CPU, on April 21, 2005. The first desktop-based dual core processor family — the Athlon 64 X2 came a month later.
In early May, AMD had abandoned the string "64" in its dual-core desktop product branding, becoming Athlon X2, downplaying the significance of 64-bit computing in its processors while upcoming updates involves some of the improvements to the microarchitecture, and a shift of target market from mainstream desktop systems to value dual-core desktop systems.
The latest microprocessor architecture, also known as "AMD K10" is AMD's new microarchitecture. The "AMD K10" is the immediate successor to the AMD K8 microarchitecture. The first processors released on this architecture were introduced on September 10, 2007 consisting of nine quad-core Third Generation Opteron processors. K10 processors will come in dual, triple-core and quad-core versions with all cores on one single die.
| ||This article contains information about scheduled or expected future computer chips. |
It may contain preliminary or speculative information, and may not reflect the final specification of the product.
Bulldozer and Bobcat
After the K10 architecture, AMD will move to a modular design methodology named "M-SPACE", where two new processor cores, codenamed "Bulldozer" and "Bobcat" will be released in the 2009 timeframe. While very little preliminary information exists even in AMD's Technology Analyst Day 2007, both cores are to be built from the ground up. The Bulldozer core focused on 10 watt to 100 watt products, with optimizations for performance-per-watt ratios and HPC applications and includes newly announced SSE5 instructions, while the Bobcat core will focus on 1 watt to 10 watt products, given that the core is a simplified x86 core to reduce power draw. Both of the cores will be able to incorporate full DirectX compatible GPU core(s) under the Fusion label, or as standalone products as a general purpose CPU.
After the merger between AMD and ATI, an initiative codenamed Fusion was announced that merges a CPU and GPU on one chip, including a minimum 16 lane PCI Express link to accommodate external PCI Express peripherals, thereby eliminating the requirement of a northbridge chip completely from the motherboard. It is expected to be released in 2009.
Other platforms and technologies
- See also: Comparison of AMD chipsets
Before the launch of Athlon 64 processors in 2003, AMD designed chipsets for their processors spanning the K6 and K7 processor generations. The chipsets include the AMD-640, AMD-751 and the AMD-761 chipsets. The situation changed in 2003 with the release of Athlon 64 processors, and AMD chose not to further design its own chipsets for its desktop processors while opening the desktop platform to allow other firms to design chipsets. This is the "Open Platform Initiative". The initiative was proven to be a success, with many firms such as Nvidia, ATI, VIA and SiS developing their own chipset for Athlon 64 processors and later Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX processors, including the Quad FX platform chipset from Nvidia.
The initiative went further with the release of Opteron server processors as AMD stopped the design of server chipsets in 2004 after releasing the AMD-8111 chipset, and again opened the server platform for firms to develop chipsets for Opteron processors. As of today, Nvidia and Broadcom are the sole designing firms of server chipsets for Opteron processors.
As the company completed the acquisition of ATI Technologies in 2006, the firm gained the ATI design team for chipsets which previously designed the Radeon Xpress 200 and the Radeon Xpress 3200 chipsets. AMD then renamed the chipsets for AMD processors under AMD branding (for instance, the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset was renamed as AMD 580X CrossFire chipset). In February 2007, AMD announced the first AMD-branded chipset since 2004 with the release of the AMD 690G chipset (previously under the development codename RS690), targeted at mainstream IGP computing. It was the industry's first to implement a HDMI 1.2 port on motherboards, shipping for more than a million units. While ATI had aimed at releasing an Intel IGP chipset, the plan was scrapped and the inventories of Radeon Xpress 1250 (codenamed RS600, sold under ATI brand) was sold to two OEMs, Abit and AsRock. Although AMD states the firm will still produce Intel chipsets, Intel had not granted the license of 1333 MHz FSB to ATI. Considering the rivalry between AMD and Intel, AMD is less likely to release more Intel chipset designs in the foreseeable future.
On November 15, 2007, AMD has announced a new chipset series portfolio, the AMD 7-Series chipsets, covering from enthusiast multi-graphics segment to value IGP segment, to replace the AMD 480/570/580 chipsets and AMD 690 series chipsets. Marking AMD's first enthusiast multi-graphics chipset. Discrete graphics chipsets were launched on November 15, 2007 as part of the codenamed Spider desktop platform, and IGP chipsets will be launched at a later time in Spring 2008 as part of the codenamed cartwheel platform.
AMD will also return to the server chipsets market with the next-generation AMD 800S series server chipsets, scheduled to be released in 2009 timeframe.