AMD (Advanced Micro Devices)

What is AMD (Advanced Micro Devices)?

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is a semiconductor company, known for designing and developing computer processors and graphics technologies. Founded in 1969, the company is based in Santa Clara, Calif., with a significant operation in Austin, Texas.

Instead of making its own products, AMD started out by retooling existing microprocessors and other products to make them faster and more efficient. Through growth and acquisition, AMD is now a top provider of CPU technology for desktop computers, as well as servers, GPU graphics technology, high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) processors, field programmable gate array (FPGA) processors and network accelerators.

AMD's chief competitor is Intel Corporation. The founders of both companies were veterans of a company called Fairchild Semiconductor.

AMD has projected sales of approximately $26 billion for 2022.

History of AMD

In 1982, AMD entered a technology cross-licensing agreement with Intel that allowed AMD to supply second-source chips to Intel, which provided microprocessors to IBM for its new personal computers for consumers. This agreement ended in 1982. In 1991, Intel and AMD entered a legal battle over AMD's Am386 microprocessor, which Intel suggested was too similar to its own 386 microprocessor. In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in AMD's favor. The same year, Compaq contracted with AMD to exclusively provide chips for its computers.

In 1996, AMD acquired NextGen, another microprocessor company. This helped the company stay competitive and move away from primarily producing Intel-compatible chips.

AMD released its Athlon processor, which was the first 1 GHz (gigahertz) microprocessor on the market, in 2000.

In 2003, AMD released its Opteron chip, which was created for use in servers. The result was the possibility of server consolidation, which was the first step before the advent of virtualization in the cloud.

In 2006, AMD announced a $5.4 billion acquisition of ATI Technologies, which manufactured video graphics cards for PCs and brought the company into the world of high-performance PCs used for gaming.

In 2008, AMD began the process of separating its manufacturing and design businesses. Its manufacturing operations were divested to GlobalFoundries, Inc. in a multibillion-dollar deal with Advanced Technology Investment Company -- now known as Mubadala, a state-owned holding company based in Abu Dhabi. This allowed AMD's manufacturing arm to be fabless, in which the fabrication of its chips would be outsourced to a third-party manufacturer.

The company struggled through the 2008 global recession until around 2014 with several significant layoff periods and three different CEOs. In 2014, AMD restructured into two business groups: computing and graphics and enterprise, embedded and semi-custom. The computing and graphics group focuses on PC processors and GPUs. The enterprise, embedded and semi-custom focuses on more specialized processors, such as server and embedded processors, gaming console technology and semi-custom system-on-chips (SoCs).

In February 2022, AMD acquired technology and semiconductor company Xilinx for an estimated $50 billion.

Popular AMD products

Popular AMD products include the following:

Ryzen -- AMD's desktop and laptop processors. They are available starting at 4 and up to 64 cores. Because of their excellent performance, Ryzen processors are especially popular with gamers.

Epyc -- AMD's server processor. With 64 cores, it is a major competitor with Intel's Xeon processor, which only has a maximum of 28 cores. Therefore, one socket 64-core Epyc server can bring more processing power than a dual socket Xeon with 56 total cores.

Radeon -- AMD's GPU business. The company's major GPU competitor is Nvidia.

Instinct -- AMD's HPC coprocessor. Instinct is based on Radeon technology, but targeted at the data center for high-end computing.

FPGA -- AMD now has a complete line of FPGA processors thanks to its acquisition of Xilinx. FPGAs are particularly popular in compute situations where a simple task is done over and over at a very high speed. FPGAs are also reprogrammable to change how they function. AMD inherited three product lines from Xilinx: the Virtex (high-end), Kintex (mid-range) and Artix (low-end).

Data processing units (DPUs) -- as of this writing, AMD is entering the DPU market with the pending acquisition (May 2022) of Pensando. Its chips are used in SmartNICs, which employ intelligent network packet routing to offload the task from the CPU.

This was last updated in May 2022

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