Remember when AMD threatened Intel’s supremacy?

end of line pentium laptops open a box of memories from the nineties and 2000s, a time when we had fun assembling desktop computers, and there were computer assembly and maintenance courses on every corner. It was also a period when AMD, Intel’s main competitor, was closing in on the first place.

Remember when AMD threatened Intel’s supremacy?

Photo: Vitor Pádua / Tecnoblog / Tecnoblog

Intel has always been a major player, but since the late 1970s it has jumped ahead of the competition. The decisive factor in this was the partnership with IBM, which he chose Intel 8088 as the processor of its first generation personal computers. From there, Intel became an opponent to beat.

The Pentium wouldn’t appear until a little later, in 1993, and would become the most widely used personal computer processor in the years that followed, according to PCMag. Starting in 2006, Intel began prioritizing the Core line; The Pentium, previously the company’s flagship model, ended up migrating to entry-level PCs.

And that passage through the lane was necessary for Intel to regain its supremacy. After all, before the introduction of the Core line, AMD became a distraction.

History of clones and megahertz

The relationship between the two companies is old: in addition to being founded less than a year apart, AMD has produced several clones of Intel’s chips.

The IBM deal required Intel to license its technology to other companies to ensure it could meet demand. But even before that, AMD made other of its chips from Intel chips, in a lengthy process of reverse engineering (it must be said that other companies did this too).

Over the years, Intel licensed other chips made by AMD, but in 1985 the two became embroiled in a legal tangle. AMD wanted to produce its own clone 80386but Intel argued that the agreement between the two only went so far 80286. In the end, AMD won the competition and launched their own AM386 1991. And, lo and behold: the clock of this clone was faster than the original.

Processor seen up close

Processor seen up close

Photo: TobiasD/Pixabay/Tecnoblog

This dispute over MHz continued for years, with companies hailing each small increase as a major differentiation of their products. But even with AMD leading the way in this regard, Intel had a strong marketing game in its favor. This has never been more clear than with the Pentium line. For the first time, the processor also became a branda name that everyone recognized.

This is one of the reasons why the Pentium withdrawal was a surprise. It is about a nearly thirty-year history, one of the company’s strongest brands. The Pentium was synonymous with good performance, a term that even laymen could recognize. AMD could have had it all, but it didn’t.

But then the game turned…

In 1995, AMD bought a small NexGen, a company that developed processors comparable to the Pentium. This acquisition would prove to be decisive in enabling competition with Intel.

The first fruits were harvested in 1997, when K6 arrived on the market. AMD’s processor rivaled the Pentium 2 – the best Intel could offer at the time – in both speed and price. The launch was highly celebrated. Review of Tom’s Hardware doomed time: the arrival of the K6 made the Pentium newer completely out of date.

The next model, the K7, was named after Athlon, for which he was best known. This gave AMD an important symbolic victory over Intel, as the first of the two exceeded the 1 GHz operating clock. And by the end of production, the line would manage to reach an incredible 2.33 GHz. In other words: in terms of performance, the Pentium has found a rival.

But AMD’s competitive peak came with the launch of the K8, or Athlon 64. As the name implies, it was a processor with 64-bit instructions, which changed the game at the time. Later, Intel itself licensed AMD64 extensions for its own use, that’s how good the technology was.

On top of that, AMD’s new architecture performed very well not only on desktops, but also on servers, reaching a quarter of the industry. For enthusiasts, it was clear that the company’s chips were the best on the market.

…and then he turned around again

However, AMD did not know how to take advantage of a good moment. A number of management issues got in the way; maintaining the company’s factories also ate up a lot of money. And Intel, in turn, began to leave the Pentium behind.

Architecture netburst, which powered the Pentium 4 line, did not deliver good results. It lost in performance to the Athlon 64, in addition to consuming more energy. The next step was actually a step backwards: Intel planned its new line of chips not from the Pentium 4, but from the Pentium 3. corewhich has since been marked by the company’s top-of-the-line chips.

Intel Core chip

Intel Core chip

Photo: publicity / Intel / Tecnoblog

The tide has since risen again for AMD, especially with the launch of the Core 2. Intel has once again been on top, and its rival, still dealing with internal issues, has seen the distance widen. Two old opponents were returning to their places.

But the memory remains: once upon a time, AMD made Intel sweat. And it changed the market in the process.

Were you Team Pentium or Team Athlon?

On Tecnocast 261, we’re doing a Pentium in Notebook (RIP) retirement to talk about the good old days of computing (someone still uses that word) in the 1990s and 2000s.

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Remember when AMD threatened Intel’s supremacy?

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