AMD's CTO has written about 55 years of AMD innovation. And the most common topic is obviously 'AI' despite not really saying much about 'AI' for the previous 54 years

AMD Ryzen shot from AMD
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD is 55 years old. Only a little bit older than myself and, also like myself, few people expected it to last much beyond 45 years. Just a decade ago—with a meagre datacentre business, and a ropey CPU architecture that was the subject of a $12.1 million class action lawsuit because it kinda wasn't what it said it was—AMD was on a knife edge. 

But with strong, smart leadership, and a solid track record of delivering time and again on its promises, AMD has turned it around. It is now one of the darlings of the tech industry, looking down on the Intel behemoth which once trampled it underfoot.

And so, to celebrate this milestone AMD chief technical officer and master of papers, Mark Papermaster, has penned a blog post titled: "Celebrating 55 years of AMD innovation."

So, what would be his take on five whole decades of silicon engineering? Five decades of swinging violently between brilliance and mediocrity, and back again? Five decades of doggedly holding Intel off from completely monopolising the CPU market and the industry as a whole? What should we be really celebrating in all this, Mark?

Oh, you just want to focus on the last five years and that's all been about AI, has it? That's what we're celebrating? Something that AMD is only now basing its entire world-view around because it's the current big topic in the industry and worth a chonk bag of cash? Think back a year or so and AMD wasn't making any real noises about AI being its guiding star, and yet here we are and AI is the one word/phrase/initialism that Papermaster uses more than any other in his entire 1,000+ word "celebration". 

AI, explained

OpenAI logo displayed on a phone screen and ChatGPT website displayed on a laptop screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on December 5, 2022.

(Image credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

What is artificial general intelligence?: We dive into the lingo of AI and what the terms actually mean.

I get it, though. Artificial intelligence is going to be the biggest thing to happen in computing over the next few years, and probably beyond, and it's understandable AMD wants to show off what a strong position it has in the market, even when its Nvidia rival is seen as the only ticket in town. 

But maybe that's something to focus on in a blog talking about the next 55 years of AMD innovation. Because the company is arguably in the strongest position it's ever been in and there's no concern about its longevity these days.

Just look at the level of R&D from 2019 to 2023. Papermaster explains that its investment in that field "has nearly quadrupled, from $1.5B in 2019, to $5.9B in 2023, and we plan to continue to invest in developing groundbreaking technologies that show early promise." Though it is worth noting that's around the level of yearly R&D spending that Intel is still stumping up each quarter.

But they've still got fabs, and these days, do real men still have fabs, Jerry?

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.