TechSpot: The Rise and Fall of AMD

There is no single event responsible for ousting AMD from its lofty position in early 2006. The company's decline is inextricably linked to its own mismanagement, some bad predictions, its own success, as well as the fortunes and misdeeds of Intel.

AMD has long been subject of polarizing debate among technology enthusiasts. The chapters of its history provide ample ammunition for countless discussions and no small measure of rancour. Considering that it was once considered an equal to Intel, many wonder why AMD is failing today. However, it's probably fairer to ask how the company has survived so for long -- a question we intend to explore as we revisit the company's past, examine its present and gaze into its future.

AMD's Rise

Founded in May 1969 by seven Fairchild Semiconductor employees headed by Jerry Sanders, Fairchild's director of marketing, you could say AMD established itself as an underdog from the get-go by focusing its early efforts on redesigning parts from Fairchild and National Semiconductor instead of creating new products as Intel did with the iconic 4004. Though it came close during the early 2000s, as we'll discuss shortly, the company has largely struggled to shake the image of being Intel's shadow.

Read: The Rise and Fall of AMD

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I'm waiting to see if the Excavator, granted it's only a reworked Bulldozer brings to the party, but seeing initial numbers on the Vishera, I'm not ready to declare AMD dead and buried yet...
Guess time will tell.

every AMD pc I have ever repaired even new ones worked like crap (at least 1,000 I have in the last 18 years) the capacitors blow on the board doesn't matter how clean it is inside or brand or low end or high end in a year to two years (other than the original Athlon) I'm thinking the reason for this though is AMD is marketed as the underdog cheaper CPU so I guess you get what you pay for . and you go to a pc recycling center and all the 286 on up Intel's are chugging along just like Apple's early-mid eighty's Mac's and Apple ][

Performance and everything aside, I think Intel has always been >>>> AMD in terms of marketing. (I think the same could be said for NVidia vs ATi as well)

Back when I was a total nub (I was young) buying OEM machines (as PCyr said), I (and i'm sure others too) leaned towards Intel because of their catchy marketing. For example, Intel's blue man group ads. I saw these ads on TV, and when I went to a store I would be like 'oh, this computer has Intel, I've heard of that, never heard of AMD'.

Its the same phenomenon that contributes to Apple's success.

So - on top of everything else, I think marketing had something to do with their demise...

The story is simple.. its called what has Intel done lately. That's what determines AMD's value..
I'd guarantee if your old enough you jumped over to AMD long ago when they started beating out Intel then the tables turned and since then not much has changed..
A story about AMD has to have a story about Intel's competing products and the time lines they were released at in order to keep things in perspective.
Putting blame on them because of ATI or something is just dumb.
Its always been a space race of technology and Intel had break throughs in R & D
combined with the limitations and pro's and con's of the technological angle they chose to pursue. To some extent i would say Intel kinda got lucky and that kinda made for bad business for AMD. Once you have a reputation of being better its a hard uphill climb..
I don't know too many people that bought Intel chips when AMD was owning with 1ghz cpu's (unless they were nubs buying an oem machine)

I', a happy AMD user wince I can't remember.... I only have had two intel processors so far, a really horribler p4 prescott at 3.0 ghz and a very nice one on my RAZRi, however my current laptop is a 3410mx apu which is really fast once overclocked, comparable to core i5. Is really too bad that they aren't doing well, but for my needs, AMD will be top priority rather thanm a intel processor simply because I prefer to buy SSDs or better gfx with the huge amount of money that I save from buying amd rather than intel.

If everyone remembers -- AMD was good up until it purchased ATI -- ATI was good by itself but somewhat went down after that purchase. I think AMD put it's resources on the video side and let the cpu slip a little bit.

Ironically it might be their saving grace... the APU chips are a bright spot, they have the jump, just depends if they can take advantage in the near future

redvamp128 said,
If everyone remembers -- AMD was good up until it purchased ATI -- ATI was good by itself but somewhat went down after that purchase. I think AMD put it's resources on the video side and let the cpu slip a little bit.


I agree. It sort of killed both companies....

redvamp128 said,
If everyone remembers -- AMD was good up until it purchased ATI -- ATI was good by itself but somewhat went down after that purchase. I think AMD put it's resources on the video side and let the cpu slip a little bit.


The drivers did improve tho
AMD is allot better at providing drivers for their products then Ati was.

Shadowzz said,

The drivers did improve tho
AMD is allot better at providing drivers for their products then Ati was.

I don't know I always didn't have any issues with Sapphire Cards made by ATI (they also made the true ATI branded card) . They also used to supply drivers that supported their line of cards better.....

I was a pretty diehard AMD user back in the days of the K6 and the Athlon.. but these days despite Intel chips being fairly pricey, they're pretty much all I'd use on my home PC.

Sad times. Hope AMD manage to sort themselves out.

The K line of chips made me hate AMD back in the day, had a few systems with them, in addition to equivalent Intel systems at the same time... AMD's just felt sluggish, didn't seem like they could work as well, had more crashes in OS's with them... and 3DNow (SIMD instructions) almost felt like a joke compared to Intels MMX, SSE extensions

It always depends: at a given budget, whoever has the best performance gets my money.

Until now it's been AMD but I'm kinda tired of the 'cheapo feel' of having to go to 4ghz to equal what Intel does at 3.3 and struggling to convince myself that i'm not sacrificing performance in any area nonetheless.

In the late 90s, there was nothing better. Quite simply, if you had an intel, you were an idiot . AMDs were faster and cheaper! What happened AMD, what happened!

n_K said,
In the late 90s, there was nothing better. Quite simply, if you had an intel, you were an idiot . AMDs were faster and cheaper! What happened AMD, what happened!

The K6 family of chips was pretty meh, it wasn't until the Athlon vs the P4 that AMD was on top and that wasn't necessarily because AMD was so good, it was just that the Pentium 4 was so terrible.

TRC said,

The K6 family of chips was pretty meh, it wasn't until the Athlon vs the P4 that AMD was on top and that wasn't necessarily because AMD was so good, it was just that the Pentium 4 was so terrible.

I still remember when AMD called bull**** over benchmark numbers for the Core 2 Duo series (Conroe). Conroe started the downfall of AMD.

n_K said,
In the late 90s, there was nothing better. Quite simply, if you had an intel, you were an idiot . AMDs were faster and cheaper! What happened AMD, what happened!

It was more than just the late 90s; AMD enjoyed the performance crown with K7 and K8 until Intel's Core 2.

jwmcpeak said,

It was more than just the late 90s; AMD enjoyed the performance crown with K7 and K8 until Intel's Core 2.


I stayed with the K6-2's for a long time then got an athlon server which was 1Ghz or so I think? Missed out P3 completely then went back to intel for P4. Not sure about speedwise but the tradeoff from what I remember was apparently they got much better performance but at the cost of giving out a hell of a lot more heat.

To be honest, i don't really care because i am an intel fanboy...

I have been using Intel processor since 1997..

lomas said,
To be honest, i don't really care because i am an intel fanboy...

I have been using Intel processor since 1997..

Those Pentium 4's sure were awesome chips! /s

abysal said,

Those Pentium 4's sure were awesome chips! /s

What's not to like about a slow CPU that doubles as a stove-top heating element?

lomas said,
To be honest, i don't really care because i am an intel fanboy...

I have been using Intel processor since 1997..


Intel has kicked AMD's ass in some way, shape, or form ALWAYS.

pes2013 said,

Intel has kicked AMD's ass in some way, shape, or form ALWAYS.

No. AMD was faster than Intel until the latter one introduced multi core processing technology.

Jose_49 said,

No. AMD was faster than Intel until the latter one introduced multi core processing technology.

Erm intel faked dualcores with P4's with their crappy HyperThreading. The P4 architecture was so horrible, they dropped it and used the P3 architecture for further development.
AMD was the first with actual multi-core.

Draconian Guppy said,
This article give's me teh creeps... No performance products releases in 2013... Man, we are going to return to the p3-p4 price days

Bought a C2Q Q6600 almost half a decade ago, good over clocker, still running strong at 3.6 GHz (on Air) without giving me any feel for upgrade !!

Good to see computer industry slowing down in terms of performance increase as it will save us, the users a lot of money as the software guys now need to work hard to make faster software in already available hardware

Choto Cheeta said,

Bought a C2Q Q6600 almost half a decade ago, good over clocker, still running strong at 3.6 GHz (on Air) without giving me any feel for upgrade !!

Good to see computer industry slowing down in terms of performance increase as it will save us, the users a lot of money as the software guys now need to work hard to make faster software in already available hardware

Slowing down is good, but not when there's only one player in the desktop department, say what you want, but AMD is barely playing catchup in performance desktops, meanings higher prices for consumers in the end.
AMD could lower their prices, but intel won't as they have a superior product.
Don't get me wrong, I want AMD to survive, but it seems that AMD won't make it to 2020.

Draconian Guppy said,

Slowing down is good, but not when there's only one player in the desktop department, say what you want, but AMD is barely playing catchup in performance desktops, meanings higher prices for consumers in the end.
AMD could lower their prices, but intel won't as they have a superior product.
Don't get me wrong, I want AMD to survive, but it seems that AMD won't make it to 2020.


They did play allot of catchup. And on proper benchmarks, the new Piledrivers rival the best i7 Intel has to offer.
And there's more to come. i7 is an aging platform, whereas Piledriver is relatively new and still has allot of development for it.
With this platform going 28nm and a new generation being released next year.
Intel has to up their game to stay ahead, and they are focusing mainly on the lowpower section lately, and here AMD is already king. (X86 that is)
And within the year AMD should be releasing the Kabini line... I wonder if Intel has any answer to that.

Draconian Guppy said,

Slowing down is good, but not when there's only one player in the desktop department, say what you want, but AMD is barely playing catchup in performance desktops, meanings higher prices for consumers in the end.
AMD could lower their prices, but intel won't as they have a superior product.
Don't get me wrong, I want AMD to survive, but it seems that AMD won't make it to 2020.

Dont you think its bit tricky to judge since processors are for devices and PC / NoteBook segment it self is slowing down in front of tablet sales.

I think 2020 figures would not going to indicate winner via mainstream processor rather those who has chip for overall market leading devices and in this case, tabs and smart phones.

Shadowzz said,

They did play allot of catchup. And on proper benchmarks, the new Piledrivers rival the best i7 Intel has to offer.
And there's more to come. i7 is an aging platform, whereas Piledriver is relatively new and still has allot of development for it.
With this platform going 28nm and a new generation being released next year.
Intel has to up their game to stay ahead, and they are focusing mainly on the lowpower section lately, and here AMD is already king. (X86 that is)
And within the year AMD should be releasing the Kabini line... I wonder if Intel has any answer to that.

Which piledriver? Because the FX8350 barely tackles an i5:

"The FX-8350 is an improvement over Bulldozer, but doesnt disrupt Intel's dominance of the enthusiast CPU segment
"However, the overall result, while not as disheartening as the FX-8150, is still a distant second to Intel's Core i5-3570K and associated Ivy Bridge architecture. It doesn't so much change the status quo as reinforce it. "

The overall result is pretty bad reading for AMD, with an overall tally of 1,660 points at stock and 1,914 points when overclocked. While this is at least faster than Intel's Nehalem based i7-920 at stock, it's a long way behind Intel's Core i5-3570K , which score 2,248 points at stock and 2,851 points when overclocked. The only plus point we can really take is that the gap between AMD and Intel hasn't grown; overall the FX-8150 was 26 per cent slower at stock than the i5-2500K, and the FX-8350 maintains this gap to the i5-3570K, despite it's £50 comparative price cut.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardwa.../11/06/amd-fx-8350-review/8

I'm still with AMD I have an aging phenom x2 555.

It's fairly slow but it's good enough and I can't justify upgrading my whole system.

Having said that, seeing as when I need to upgrade again, I'll need a new mobo because of AM3+, I'm probably going to jump ship to intel, probably permanently.

Had only AMD processors till two months ago. AMD Duron , Sempron , Athlon , Phenom and now Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i5 . I must say that I am impressed over Intel power consumption and performance even for a few bucks + . If there is a solid system in my eyes.. it would Intel and nVidia based. Right now I saw benchmarks with A8, A6 from AMD and they are dissapointing compared to what Intel offers. However back in the years , AMD was a powerhorse runing everything like a muscle car. Intel is just.. elegant and precise.Like quality now.

deadheadline said,
Had only AMD processors till two months ago. AMD Duron , Sempron , Athlon , Phenom and now Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i5 . I must say that I am impressed over Intel power consumption and performance even for a few bucks + . If there is a solid system in my eyes.. it would Intel and nVidia based. Right now I saw benchmarks with A8, A6 from AMD and they are dissapointing compared to what Intel offers. However back in the years , AMD was a powerhorse runing everything like a muscle car. Intel is just.. elegant and precise.Like quality now.


Intel and Nvidia here.... I just got a new system that's got an Ivy Bridge Core i5 3570K and a Geforce 650Ti.
I used to have an AMD Phenom x4 9550 and a Geforce 8800GT

I used AMD chips since the first Athlon's and loved the performance and price. I bought new machines every year or so and did one simple thing. Looked at performance, $100 either way didn't sway my decision, performance did. Since the introduction multiple cores and the intel "i" series, I've used nothing but Intel in all my machines. Next year, if AMD has the best chip, I'll be using them again...can't speak to what they're doing on a server and enterprise markets.