Timeline: How AMD changed over the past 39 years

The note of AMD’s CEO Dirk Meyer that AMD is in the midst of its most significant transition in its history prompted us to take a closer look at AMD’s past to get a better idea of the transformation of the company that took place over the past 39 years. Here is a compressed timeline highlighting key events as well as the company’s most significant achievements.  

The 1960s to 2000s

1969: A group of former executives of Fairchild Semiconductor, including Jerry Sanders, found Advanced Micro Devices on May 1, 1969, with and initial investment of $100,000.
The company’s focus was the design of logic chips.

1970: AMD introduces the Am2501 logic counter, its first proprietary device.

1972: AMD goes public.

1975: AMD enters the RAM chip business, reverse-engineers the Intel 8080 microprocessor and creates bit-slice processor elements for minicomputer designs.

1979: AMD joins the New York Stock Exchange and opens its new manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas.

1982: AMD becomes an Intel-licensed second-source microprocessor supplier of 8086 and 8088 chips for IBM. AMD creates the 80286 clone called Am286, based upon Intel’s design and microcode.

1985: ATI (later acquired by AMD) develops its first graphics controller and first graphics board product. AMD enters the Fortune 500 list.

1986: Intel cancels its license agreement with AMD and refuses to divulge technical details of the i386. An eight-year legal battle follows.

1987: AMD acquires Monolithic Memories and enters the programmable logic business.

1988: AMD established the AMD Submicron Development Center which would later supply next-generation technology to all AMD fabs worldwide.

1991: AMD debuts a reverse-engineered alternative to the Intel 386 processor dubbed Am386, which sold more than one million units in less than one year.

1993: AMD launches Intel 486 processor clone Am486. NOR Flash joint venture with Fujitsu founded.

1994: AMD lands major long-term deal with Compaq to supply Am486 processors.

1992: ATI subsidiary in Germany established, the first VESA and PCI products brought to market and Mach32 unveiled, ATI’s first graphics controller and accelerator on a single chip.

1994: Legal fight with Intel over the 386 chip ends and the Supreme Court of California sides with AMD.

1995: K6 launches as Intel Pentium rival and first independently designed CPU.

1996: AMD acquires microprocessor company NexGen for rights to their Nx series of x86-compatible processors, a move that put AMD into direct competition with Intel in the microprocessor market. Plans of construction of Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany, announced.

1997: AMD introduces the K6 processor as an answer to Intel’s Pentium II.

1998: K6-2 launched. AMD announces partnership with Motorola to co-develop a copper-based semiconductor technology that would become the foundation for the K7 manufacturing process.

1999: AMD debuts the Athlon (K7) microprocessor. The processor was designed by a former DEC team led by Dirk Meyer who was one of lead DEC Alpha engineers and would become AMD CEO in 2008. AMD demonstrates the first 1 GHz processor at 1016 MHz.

Read on the next page: The 2000s

The 2000s

2000:  AMD unveils mobile AMD-K6-2+ processors with power management. Jerry Sanders recruits the president of Motorola’s semiconductor business, Hector Ruiz, to become AMD’s president and COO. ATI acquires ArtX and integrates its future CEO Dave Orton into the company. ATI introduces its Radeon series of graphics cards. AMD begins revenue shipments from its 200 mm Fab 30 in Dresden.  

2001: AMD intros the Athlon MP, its first workstation processor. HyperTransport is adopted by Agilent, Apple, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, IBM, nVidia, Sun, and Texas Instruments.

2002: AMD acquires Alchemy Semiconductor and its low-power, embedded processor technology. The Athlon XP integrates AMD’s  Cool’n’Quiet technology. Hector Ruiz succeeded AMD co-founder Jerry Sanders.

2003: AMD and IBM partner on future generation manufacturing technologies. 64-bit technology debuts with Athlon 64 and Opteron processors, the company’s first true server processor. AMD acquires National Semiconductor’s x86 business and announces a strategic alliance with Sun Microsystems. AMD and Fujitsu form a new flash joint-venture called Spansion.

2004: AMD demonstrated its first x86 dual-core processor and establishes subsidiary in China with Beijing HQ.

2005: Turion 64 for notebooks as well as the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 and dual-core Opteron processors are announced. 300 mm Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany opens. AMD files antitrust litigation against Intel for illegally abusing its monopoly to exclude and limit competition. Spansion goes public.

2006: AMD announces $5.4 billion merger with ATI and announces plans for the 2010 Fusion processor. ATI CEO Dave Orton is named Executive VP of Visual and Media Businesses. Dell announced AMD-based systems. AMD demonstrates its quad-core x86 server processor based on the Barcelona core and establishes Shanghai Research and Development Center to focus on mobile platforms.AMD transitions to 65 nm CPUs and promises to reduce the manufacturing distance to Intel. Production plans of 32 nm fab in New York State announced.

2007: Dave Orton resigns. Opteron and Phenom quad-core processor launch with TLB bug. AMD announces triple-core CPUs, claims first 45 nm processors manufactured. The company loses billions of dollars in a processor price war with Intel in an effort to retain its market share.

2008: AMD introduces triple-core processors and launches its 4800 of graphics cards. The second generation of Barcelona Opteron processors without TLB bug. AMD begins selling non-core businesses as well as 200 mm manufacturing assets. Production of first 45 nm processor started. President and COO Dirk Meyer replaces Hector Ruiz as CEO. AMD announces to split into two companies – a chip manufacturing company and a chip design firm.