post #131 of 131
Originally Posted by jsc1973 View Post

AMD started out as basically just a semiconductor fab. Intel's x86 processors were so popular that Intel couldn't make enough of them, so they made deals with AMD and Harris Semiconductor to make the 8086, 8088, 80186/8, and 286 processors as a second source. Later on, Intel had enough fab capacity to make them all on their own, but the feds made them keep the AMD and Harris contracts so Intel wouldn't have a monopoly. A few other companies like NEC also got x86 licenses in the 286 era.

What happened is that AMD was only allowed to make direct copies of Intel CPU's up to the 286, and the feds didn't force Intel to license the 386. So AMD used their broad-based x86 license to make their own 386, via a clean-room reverse engineering process. Intel tried all sorts of stuff to stop them. They even attempted to trademark the term "AMD 386" so AMD couldn't use it. Finally, they lost in court, and made an agreement whereby AMD could make any x86 CPU they wanted to, as long as they used no Intel microcode in so doing. (AMD had copied Intel's 386 microcode for its own 386.) Later on, Cyrix and Centaur Technology cut the same deal with Intel; both ended up as part of VIA, and VIA inherited their x86 licenses.

AMD later reverse-engineered the 486 in the same manner, before finally developing its first-ever original design with the K5. Later on, they made deals with Intel for the rights to add the various multimedia extensions developed at Intel (MMX, SSE1/2/3/4), but also agreed to stop using Intel socket infrastructure after Socket 7. And they got better terms on their licensing when they created x86-64 and Intel was compelled to adopt it. The companies are in a situation of "mutually assured destruction" now if they had a total falling out. AMD can't make any x86 without Intel's blessing, but Intel can't make any 64-bit x86 without AMD's. Intel would probably have bought out AMD long ago, and ended the situation, if the feds would ever allow it. They've tried many times before to just make AMD's business unviable to continue.

Wow I never knew this, thanks +Rep
Edited by TopicClocker - 2/25/14 at 2:16am