As in the case of Intel, so is the history of AMD processors very interesting and very rich. A few months ago we published an article devoted to the review of ten processors from the chip giant that went down in the history of the PC world on their own, and today we’re going to do the same as thaton ten AMD processors that has also reserved an important place in this story.
AMD (Advanced Micro Device) was founded on May 1st, 1969 by Jerry Sanders. He wasn’t alone, this electrical engineer was the Marketing Director for Fairchild Semiconductor, and he had the help of seven colleagues from that company to carry out his project. This adventure went through various phases that gradually shaped the giant of Sunnyvale.
In its first phase, AMD was a second vendor of microchips developed by Fairchild and National Semiconductor. This means that there were no AMD processors at the time, as the company focused on making logic chips that were developed by another company and revolved around one clear goal: to meet the US military quality standard. United. I know it may sound strange today, but we’re talking about the sixties A time when it was very difficult to get really reliable microchipsand therefore this business was profitable.
It may surprise you, but at the time, AMD processors rely on that RISC architecture. The Sunnyvale giant wanted to bring such architecture to the mainstream consumer market, and did it with AMD 29000 series, a family that was competing with Intel’s 80960 (RISC) line at the time, although by the end we already know that both companies were focused on the x86 architecture.
In order to use this architecture in its processors, AMD had to sign a License agreement with Intel. This agreement had a relatively straightforward first phase, but things got complicated over time. That agreement had critical moments that got AMD on the ropes because when Intel realized the growing weight of the x86 CPU sector, it tried everything to stay the only player in the field, in fact not sharing the Sunnyvale company even that Details of the 386 processor with.
As you might have imagined, AMD didn’t stay to see them come. The company took Intel to court as it saw it a breach of the contract they both signed. In the end, a court agreed with AMD, and Intel had no choice but to pay AMD a large sum of money. From that moment on, a fierce battle began between the two companies to lead the x86 processor market at both a general consumer and professional level.
AMD processors had really brilliant moments, although it is true that if we take an average rating and consider all the key moments that the industry has been through, Intel was at the top more often and longerThis is a reality that has allowed him to hit that day as a true silicon giant, although it is also true that AMD processors are currently more solid value for money and that the company that runs the business is Lisa Su It’s not easy for the chip giant.
After this brief but necessary introduction, we are ready to discover these ten AMD processors That was a turning point, and it was possible to enter the history of the PC world on its own.
We are before a clone of the Intel 8086 that AMD managed to reverse engineer itself and that it shared its most important features with him.
It was started in 1974 with a production cost of 50 cents for each chip. A silicon wafer produced around 100 functional chips, which were then sold to the military market at a price of 10% $ 700 each. Yes, it was very profitable.
It deserves to be on the list of top AMD processors in the PC world because it was the first from the company to use the x86 architecture.
2. AMD AM386
We are facing another clone of an Intel processor, especially the 386 from the chip giant. This AMD processor arrived in 1991 with a 32-bit configuration and broadly shares the basics of the Intel model, albeit with one important nuance: The Sunnyvale company was able to market a model that is 100% compatible with the Intel chip, but more powerful.
The Intel 386 ran at 33 MHz, while the AMD chip was able to 40 MHz. At this point, this 7 MHz difference was significant enough to have a significant impact on raw performance and processor life.
We can say that this processor was a big win for AMD, and not just because the company was able to create a 386 that is more powerful than Intel’s and overall compatible with your platform (it worked on the same motherboards) but also because won a major legal battle against Intelwho tried to block AMD’s 386 from being released.
Intel wanted Limit the x86 license to 286. If it had been up to him, the future of AMD processors would have been very different from what we all know.
3. AMD K5
We are facing the first generation of x86 processors entirely designed by AMDand also against the direct rival of the Intel Pentium, one of the best processor generations that the Santa Clara company has brought onto the market in its entire history.
If we focus on the architecture, we can say that the AMD K5 series was closer to the Pentium Pro than the Pentium design. This generation had one RISC processor with an x86 decoder unit This converted all x86 commands into RISC commands. It added five integer units and an integrated FPU and had speculative execution out of order to improve performance.
In general, this architecture was superior to that used in the Pentium series, but its design was very complex and AMD could not handle all of the challenges that lay ahead of us. This, along with some bugs at the L1 cache level in the first few units, affected the number of chips it could produce, forced a launch delay to 1996, and failed to convince PC manufacturers to offer you a reference to give. appreciate that a K5 at 100 MHz ran like a Pentium at 133 MHz, However, based on our comments, this was a failure for AMD.
4. AMD K6
Without a doubt one of the most interesting and competitive AMD processor families. This generation started from the base of the previous one, that is, from the AMD K5, but AMD didn’t make the same mistakes and it became a success.
This was made possible by a much simpler basic architecture. The architecture used by these AMD processors is known as a Nx686Maintain compatibility with motherboards Socket 7, increased the frequencies significantly and integrated the MMX multimedia instructionswhich marked a real revolution in the second half of the nineties.
His working frequency was from 166 MHz to 300 MHz. In terms of performance They were above the Pentium MMXHowever, they did not exceed the Pentium II, which had a more powerful floating point unit and achieved much higher operating frequencies.
5. AMD K6-III
We are facing a generation of AMD processors that bring applications a major overhaul AMD’s K6-II architecture used in processors that compete with the Pentium II.
AMD processors based on the K6-III architecture were selected to fill this position as they were the first to integrate in the company 256 KB L2 cache in the processor package. This was a major turning point as moving the L2 cache from the motherboard to the processor drastically reduced latency and improved performance significantly.
They arrived in 1999, they used socket 7, they had MMX and 3D Now! and they were able to work at a maximum of 550 MHz. You couldn’t really hit the Pentium III at the same frequency as they relied on the motherboard’s built-in L3 cache setting to catch up, but they performed well and were very affordable.
6. AMD Athlon K7
We are at the beginning of a true revolution from AMD That ended with the AMD processors, which we’ll see in the next point.
With this generation of AMD processors, he had a clear goal: improve the floating point unit, one of its large pending accounts to outperform Intel on gross performance and we can say that it was able to perform without major issues. The first AMD processors based on this architecture arrived in the second half of 1999 at a frequency of 500 MHz, but they were the first to break later. the GHz barrier.
The AMD Athlon K7 series processors used socket A, which was not electrically compatible with Intel’s Pentium III, and many models had one Card design This not only made it easier to dissipate the heat generated, but also gave it the space it needed to incorporate a great deal of it 128 KB L1 cache and 512 KB L2 cache. The model that exceeded the GHz frequency was considered to be the most powerful x86 CPU currently available.
7. AMD K8: Athlon 64
A myth and without a doubt one of the best architectures AMD has created to date. With this architecture AMD processors made the jump to 64 bit, Thanks to the inclusion of AMD64 instructions and what seemed impossible, it got Intel on the ropes.
The AMD Athlon 64, processors based on the K8 architecture, were compatible with 64 bit, had a cooler operation than the Pentium 4 and offered additional services much higher performance. To give you an idea of the enormous difference between the two, a simple comparison is enough, and that means that the Athlon 64 2000+ was able to perform at the level of a Pentium 4 at 2 GHz at a real frequency of 1 GHz GHz to work The Athlon 64 3000+ with 2 GHz outperformed a Pentium 4 with 3 GHz.
When Intel tried to stretch its hotter and slower Pentium 4 and get extreme frequency boosts to push the MHz race at AMD to its limits, they showed it Its K8 architecture was literally in a different league.
The Athlon 64 also included that Cool’n’Quiet technology, This reduced the voltage and operating frequency of the processor when performing less demanding tasks, which significantly reduced consumption. They arrived in 2003. I think it’s fair to consider them to be the best family of AMD processors in all of history.
8. AMD Athlon 64 X2
If the Athlon 64s were a coup of authority, the Athlon 64 X2s were the definitive wake-up call Intel needed to understand The matter was very seriousand that she had to recharge if she didn’t want to be completely overwhelmed. His arrival took place in 2006.
The Athlon 64 X2 retains the basis of the K8 architecture, but uses a monolithic dual core design that was Light years from the MCM design (two glued cores) of the Intel Pentium D.that were nothing more than two 64-bit Pentium 4 connected together.
These new processors have integrated two cores in a single package. Each core had its own resources and could process a thread. It also had nothing to do with the HyperThreading technology that Intel had used in the Pentium 4, which allowed the kernel to handle a thread in addition to a process. The most powerful versions reached the 3,200 MHz per core.
9. AMD Jaguar
I know what you are thinking. Why are we putting a low-power, low-performance architecture that competes with the Intel Atom series on such a list? Well very easy because it was the basis of PS4 and Xbox Oneand also PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.
The Jaguar architecture is the successor to Bobcat. So it keeps a very low consumption and presents an excellent cost-to-core ratio. This made it an ideal choice for next generation consoles as it meets all of Sony and Microsoft’s requirements: low power consumption, high number of cores, and low cost. To display a button, the PS4 APU, which has an eight-core Jaguar CPU and a Radeon GPU, which is superior to the HD 7850, cost roughly only $ 100.
Both PS4 and Xbox One and their successors PS4 Pro and Xbox One X mount a Jaguar CPU from eight cores at frequencies of 1.6 GHz from PS4 up to 2.3 GHz Xbox One X. It has a very low CPI but has been able to bring life to the entire current generation of consoles so it undoubtedly deserves to be on this list.
10. AMD Zen
It was clear that the last space should be reserved for this architecture. We could have brought the Zen 2 architecture here, which allowed AMD to catch up with Intel on IPC and deal a heavy blow to the chip giant, but we chose the first generation for a very simple reason: represented a great revolution A true turning point that enables AMD to initiate a seemingly impossible recovery.
Zen architecture gives up the monolithic core design in favor of an MCM design (multi-chip module) in which we find the CCX units. Each CCX drive has a total of four cores with their own L1, L2 and L3 caches. We can combine a maximum of four CCX units that are connected to one another via an Infinity Fabric system. This leaves a chip with 16 cores. Note, however, that each four-core block can only use its 8MB portion of the L3 cache.
Thanks to the changes AMD has introduced at the design and architectural level, Zen Outperformed Bulldozer Architecture’s IPC by Up To 52%made the leap to 14 nm and gave life to processors with up to 16 cores and 32 threads at very competitive prices. Skylake’s CPI was not exceeded but the value for money was unmatched. One of the best families of AMD processors out there.