The AMD Athlon.

Those three words meant the loss of the performance throne for Intel. All of the sudden the name that was associated with low-cost, budget or poor gaming PCs now held a new definition. There was no arguing the fact that AMD’s Athlon was the fastest desktop x86 processor on the market. But was this really the first time?

In terms of overall performance, it has been a long time since we’ve been able to say that about an AMD processor, but time and time again AMD has taken the performance throne away from the mighty Intel.

Remember the K6? Upon its release AMD provided Intel with some very serious competition to their Pentium MMX and, in some cases, their Pentium Pro line of processors.

Remember the K6-2? Back in 1998 the initial benchmarks of the K6-2 had it beating an equivalently clocked Pentium II in Quake 2.

And how can we forget the K6-3? In December of that same year we took a look at the performance AMD’s K6-3 offered and watched it give new meaning to the performance we had come to expect from the Super7 platform.

With all of those successes under their belt, why aren’t we seeing AMD-inside commercials on TV?

A month after the release of the K6, Intel retook the throne with the release of the Pentium II. After E3 in 1998, Intel released the Pentium II 400 at a performance level AMD’s K6-2 333 could not compete with across the board. And in February, Intel outpaced AMD once again in the clock speed lane by releasing the Pentium III 500.

Just like a tennis match, the two companies have been serving products back and forth with hopes that the other player would screw up eventually. The ball was last in AMD’s court and they returned it with so great of a force that the laughable release of Intel’s Pentium III 533B and 600B couldn’t even hope to stop it.

The ball is in Intel’s court and it’s their turn to serve; should AMD be worried? Not incredibly, as they still have a few fingers on the performance throne. But AMD should definitely beware since the other fingers on the throne now belong to Intel.

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