The first AMD processor of the Athlon K7 series was released in 1999 and seriously competed with the then Intel chips, practically defeating its competitor Pentium III. And a quarter of a century later, inquisitive researchers discovered on AMD Athlon K7 chips an engraving in the form of a revolver, a bullet flying out of it, and the silhouette of the state of Texas. This discovery was made Fritzhens Fritz (Fritzchens Fritz), a lover of macro photography and studying processor crystals.
The images are likely a reference to AMD’s facilities in Austin, Texas. Or is this a hint of an upcoming “duel” with Intel. Apparently, one of the chip’s creators was no stranger to the romance of Westerns and the charm of the Wild West. And such a person may well be Jim Keller, who had a hand in creating the K7, widely known as one of the leading chip architects of recent decades and the developer of the current AMD Zen architecture.
It was the Athlon K7 that for the first time put AMD on an equal footing with Intel in terms of performance. It had the same 600 MHz peak clock speed as the Pentium III and performed excellently in benchmarks, including floating point calculations, which were previously the preserve of Intel’s best processors.
In addition, the AMD Athlon K7 turned out to be faster than the Pentium III in Quake III, providing just under 120 frames per second in the game, while the Pentium III could not even produce a hundred. This had a huge impact on the consumer processor market. Many gamers and computer enthusiasts are taking a fresh look at AMD products.
To imagine how far the semiconductor industry has come since 1999, it is enough to remember that the Athlon K7 was created using a 0.25-micron process technology (250 nm) and contained 22 million transistors. Today, AMD produces processors using TSMC's 5nm and 4nm processes, and its Phoenix APU contains 25 billion transistors.
AMD overtook Intel in market capitalization in June 2022. Today, AMD is worth about $270 billion, and Intel is valued at $180 billion. This would have been impossible to believe in 1999, given that Intel's market capitalization has remained virtually unchanged since 1999, and AMD was then worth only a couple of billion.