Athlon

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Athlon is the brand name applied to a series of x86-compatible microprocessors designed and manufactured by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). The original Athlon (now called Athlon Classic) was the first seventh-generation x86 processor and, in a first, retained the initial performance lead it had over Intel's competing processors for a significant period of time. The original Athlon also had the distinction of being the first desktop processor to reach speeds of one gigahertz (GHz). AMD has continued using the Athlon name with the Athlon 64, an eighth-generation processor featuring x86-64 (later renamed AMD64) architecture, and the Athlon II.

The Athlon made its debut on June 23, 1999. Athlon is the ancient Greek word for "Champion/trophy of the games".

Contents

Background

AMD ex-CEO and founder Jerry Sanders developed strategic partnerships during the late 1990s to improve AMD's presence in the PC market based on the success of the AMD K6 architecture. One major partnership announced in 1998 paired AMD with semiconductor giant Motorola.[1] In the announcement, Sanders referred to the partnership as creating a "virtual gorilla" that would enable AMD to compete with Intel on fabrication capacity while limiting AMD's financial outlay for new facilities. This partnership also helped to co-develop copper-based semiconductor technology, which would become a cornerstone of the K7 production process.

In August 1999, AMD released the Athlon (K7) processor. Notably, the design team was led by Dirk Meyer, who had worked as a lead engineer on multiple Alpha microprocessors during his employment at DEC. Jerry Sanders had approached many of the engineering staff to work for AMD as DEC wound down their semiconductor business, and brought in a near-complete team of engineering experts. The balance of the Athlon design team comprised AMD K5 and K6 veterans.

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