Original Athlon (K-7) (500, 550, 600,
650,700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000, and 1200 MHz) - This CPU was
first shipped to vendors on 24 June 1999 at speeds of 500, 550, and
600 MHz . A 650 MHz Athlon was announced on August 9th and a 700 MHz
Athlon was announced on October 4th. A 750 MHz Athlon shipped on November
29th, an 800 MHz Athlon shipped January 6th, and an 850 MHz Athlon
shipped February 12th. On March 6th, AMD announced it was shipping
the 900, 950, and 1000 MHz (1 GHz) Athlon processors. The 1.2 GHz
Athlon shipped on October 16, 2000.
Features. The 32 bit Athlon is designed for a new type of
motherboard - Slot A. It has a 200MHz bus based on an Alpha EV6 design,
128KB of on-chip level one (L1) cache (which is four times the size
of the Pentium III processor's L1 cache), a programmable high-performance
512 KB backside L2 cache interface (which will eventually be increased
to 8MB), and a very fast floating point engine.
The AMD Athlon processor includes specific enhancements to the
3DNow! instruction set. Enhanced 3DNow! adds 24 new instructions19
to improve MMX integer math calculations and enhance data movement
for Internet streaming applications and 5 DSP extensions for soft
modem, soft ADSL, Dolby Digital, and MP3 applications. Per AMD, this
new DSP functionality of the AMD Athlon is not supported by the Pentium
|AMD K-7 Athlon Slot A
Pentium III 600 MHz tested against the AMD K-7 Athlon 600 MHz
- Athlon slightly faster?. A host of sites have posted their Pentium
III 600 vs. the AMD Athlon 600 MHz speed tests.
The clear consensus is that the AMD Athlon is from 2-20% faster
in most tests depending on the systems and software used to run the
test. Its greatest performance difference occurs in 3D graphics
at 640X480 resolutions. At resolutions of 1024X768 there is virtually
no speed difference in the two CPUs (Gamecenter claims this results
because the video card performance is maxed out). The Athlon does
not overpower the Pentium III in any of the tests (in most test there
is less than a 5% speed difference), and curiously, all of the sites
seemed to get varying results.
Note: Do not rely on speed tests made by AMD. AMD used
an optimized Athlon 3DMark 99 MAX test for speed claims. The creator
of the 3D test, Futuremark, now says AMD used an Athlon optimized
version of the test to show the Athlon was 30% faster than the Pentium
III in 3D graphic performance. Futuremark also says that other vendors
did not have access to, and did not use, optimized versions of the
Pentium III E outperforming Athlon at higher clock speeds.
Unfortunately, performance of the 750 and 800 MHz Athlon processors
is not up to par as compared to the 750 MHz (and faster) Pentium IIIs.
PCWorld and others have found that the 750 MHz Pentium III is faster
than the 750 and 800 MHz Athlon (See our December
29th news item for more information). Even AMD is not claiming
with its usual bravado that the 800 MHz Athlon is the fastest CPU
So why aren't the latest Athlon's keeping up with the Pentium III's?
The problem is that the CPU is starting to outrun the rest of the
system. AMD's current Athlon chipset only supports 2X AGP and 100
MHz SDRAM. However, Pentium III's with the Camino chipset have AGP
4X and up to 800 MHz Rambus DRAM. AMD is supposedly solving the RAM
problem by working on double data rate DRAM chipsets, and hopefully,
they will also boost their graphics port speeds to AGP 4X.
Developments. Originally we expected the Athlon CPU
to be produced in low volumes until AMD's new FAB 30, in Dresden,
Germany, came on-line in mid 2000 (please see our related story, Can
AMD Deliver the K-7?).
AMD Athlon MP
On October 15, 2001 AMD introduced its newest processors for multiprocessing
servers and workstations, the high-performance AMD Athlon MP
processors 1800+, 1600+ and 1500+. On December 12, 2001 the 1900+
Athlon MP was introduced and on March 13, 2002 AMD introduced the
On June 19, 2002 AMD shipped the 2100+ Athlon MP and on August 28,
2002 the 2200+ was released.
A key advantage of AMDs multiprocessing platform is Smart MP
technology, which greatly enhances overall platform performance by
increasing data movement between the two CPUs, chipset and memory
system. Smart MP technology features dual point-to-point, high-speed
266MHz system buses with Error Correcting Code (ECC) support designed
to provide up to 2.1GB per second per CPU of bus bandwidth in a dual-processor
system. Smart MP technology also has an optimized Modified Owner Exclusive
Shared Invalid (MOESI) cache coherency protocol that manages data
and memory traffic in a multiprocessing environment.
The AMD Athlon MP processor features the patented QuantiSpeed
architecture, which includes a high performance full-speed cache with
hardware data pre-fetch, a fully pipelined superscalar floating point
engine, and an exclusive L2 Translation Look-aside Buffer (TLB). The
processor also incorporates 3DNow! Professional technology,
which has 51 new instructions that extend AMDs 3DNow! technology,
enabling smoother, richer and more lifelike images, more precise digital
audio and an enriched Internet experience.
The AMD Athlon MP processor is compatible with AMDs stable
Socket A infrastructure, and supports DDR memory technology.
AMD Duron ("Morgan" core).
On August 20, 2001 AMD introduced The 1GHz AMD Duron processor for
desktop PCs based on the new core codenamed "Morgan." On
October 1, 2001 the 1.1 GHz Duron was introduced. Then, on November
15, 2001 the 1.2 GHz Duron was announced, followed by the 1.3 GHz
Duron on January 21, 2001.
The enhancements to the new AMD Duron processor, which supports the
Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system, means that users
can immediately enjoy the benefits of additional multimedia instructions
for better performance on photo, music and Internet applications.
Like all AMD processors, the new 1GHz AMD Duron processor supports
AMD's Socket A platform, a stable infrastructure which can help IT
managers lower the cost of ownership.
About the AMD Duron™ "Morgan" Processor
The AMD Duron processor is a derivative of the award-winning AMD Athlon
processor and is designed to provide practical performance for everyday
computing for business and home users. Employing an innovative design,
the AMD Duron processor features a sophisticated cache architecture
with 192KB of total on-chip cache, a high-speed 200MHz front-side
bus, and a superscalar floating point unit with 3DNow! Professional
technology, and hardware data pre-fetch.
The AMD Duron processor offers buyers access to technology and performance
that stands out among other processors in its class. It reflects AMD’s
30 years of design and manufacturing expertise and sales of more than
175 million PC processors. AMD Duron processors are manufactured on
AMD’s 0.18 micron process technology in Fab 25, Austin, Texas
Original Duron - (600,650, 700, 750, 800,
850, and 900 MHz) On June 5th, AMD released the Duron processor at
speeds of 600, 650, and 700 MHz The AMD Duron uses the new Socket
A CPU interface and is not compatible with the Athlon Slot A connector.
The AMD Duron processor is derived from the AMD Athlon(TM) processor
core and features full-speed, on-chip L2 cache memory, a 200MHz front
side system bus, and enhanced 3DNow!(TM) technology. The AMD Duron
processor features 128kB of on-chip L1 cache memory and 64kB of full-speed,
on-chip L2 cache memory.
On September 5, 2000 AMD began shipping the 750 MHz Duron and on October
17, 2000 the 800 MHz Duron shipped. AMD shipped the 850 MHz Duron
processor on January 8, 2001, the 900 MHz Duron on April 2, 2001.
Per AMD, "The AMD Duron processor is a derivative of the AMD
Athlon processor. Although the two processors are related, there are
key differences, reflecting the requirements of their target markets.
Specifically, the AMD Athlon processor is targeted at the performance
segment, and as such will have more cache memory and higher clock
The Duron was developed by AMD to compete against Intel's Celeron.
While the Duron will eventually replace the K6-2 and K6-3, AMD says
they currently have no plans to discontinue production of the K-6
AMD says the difference between the Duron and Athlon is that the Athlon
has higher clock speeds and more full-speed, on-chip cache memory.
AMD claims the Duron is 25% faster than a Celeron at the same clock
K6-3 (Sharptooth) - (400 and
450 MHz). - AMD began volume shipments of the 400 MHz K6-3 on 22 February
1999. At that time, the K6-3 450 MHz was sent out in test quantities
to computer manufacturers. The K6-3 is used in Socket 7 and Super
7 motherboards. Like the K6-2, the CPU has the 3DNow! multimedia instruction
For some unknown reason (production cost?), AMD has chosen not to
increase the speed of the K6-3 above 450 MHz.
What's different about the K6-3? Per AMD it's the K6-3's
"Trilevel Cache"; a full-speed 64KB Level 1 (L1)
cache (a standard feature of the AMD-K6 processor family), an internal
full-speed backside 256KB Level 2 (L2) cache, and a 100-MHz frontside
bus to an optional external Level 3 (L3) cache on the Super7 motherboard
(which can be as large as 2MB). As a result of the full speed 256KB
L2 cache, the AMD K6-3 is outpacing Intel Pentium III and Pentium
II CPUs (which have half-speed 512 KB caches) in non-graphics business
application speed tests.
Tests by PCWorld compared the performance of 5 AMD K6-3 systems against
the performance of 3 Intel Pentium III systems and found that "the
fastest K6-III-400 performed like a Pentium III-450, and the fastest
K6-III-450 performed like a Pentium III-500 in non-graphics business
applications", however the AMD K6-3 was up to 44% slower
than the Pentium III and Pentium II in multimedia and 3D graphics
<Why is this so? The K6-3 is faster in business applications due
to its faster full speed 256KB L2 cache vs. the half speed L2 cache
of the Pentium II and Pentium III. However, graphics applications
do not receive much benefit from L2 cache because they do not reuse
CPU instructions like business applications. Graphics programs depend
on a fast floating point unit (FPU) for their speed, and right now,
the Intel CPUs (including Celerons) have the fastest FPUs.>
What's the same? The K6-2 and K6-3 are identical in their
architecture except for the new 256KB full speed L2 cache on the K6-3.
Both CPUs get a graphics speed boost of up to 12% in 3DNow enabled
software or any software that uses DirectX 6 or higher.
(Photo Courtesy of AMD)
Ready to upgrade your K6-2 to a K6-3? Your motherboard has
to be capable of 2.2v CPU core voltage (consult your motherboard manufacturer's
web site for further upgrade instructions).
AMD K6-2 - Sometimes called the K6-2 3D,
uses Socket 7 and Super 7 motherboards. This CPU has been produced
in speeds of 266, 300, 333, 350, 380, 400, 433, 450, 475, 500, 533
and 550 MHz K6-2s designed to run in the Super 7 motherboard (450
MHz and faster) use the 100 MHz system bus and PC100 SDRAM.
This chip has its own proprietary 3D instructions (it has 17 MMX-like
3D instructions called 3DNow!) and runs almost as quickly as an equivalent
Pentium II CPU in business applications and slower than an Intel Celeron
in graphics applications. Applications written for Microsoft's new
DirectX 6 and DirectX 7 standard will take advantage of the faster
geometry processing power of the 3DNow! instructions which provide
about a 5-10% speed increase.
Windows 95 Bug Fix - On September 29, 1998 AMD
announced a bug fix for the K6-2 350 MHz, and higher speeds, running
Windows 95. Apparently under certain circumstances the 350 has been
crashing during boot up under Win95 only. The cure is a patch to windows,
and must be obtained through some arcane procedure through Microsoft
Support (described at the AMD link above). Another alternative is
to update to Win98.
(Photo Courtesy of AMD)
AMD 750 - The AMD-750™ offers 200 MHz Athlon system bus, 2X
AGP, PC-100 SDRAM with ECC, PCI, UDMA/66, 4 port OHCI USB, SMBus and
ACPI. These features have been created to enable systems that are
Microsoft® PC99 compliant.
AMD 760 - The AMD-761 system controller features the AMD Athlon
system bus, DDR-SDRAM system memory controller, accelerated graphics
port (AGP4X) controller, and peripheral component interconnect (PCI)
bus controller. The AMD-766 peripheral bus controller features four
primary blocks (PCI-to-ISA/LPC bridge, OHCI USB host controller, EIDE
UDMA-33/66/100 controller, and system management logic), each with
independent access to the PCI bus, a complete set of PCI interface
signals and state machines, and the capability of working independently
with separate devices.
AMD-760™ MP - The AMD-760 MP chipset, the world’s first AMD
Athlon multiprocessor chipset to support DDR memory technology, is
AMD’s high performance two-way multiprocessor core logic solution
for the AMD Athlon™ MP processor. It consists of two chips—the AMD-762™
system controller (northbridge), and the AMD-766™ peripheral bus controller
(southbridge). The AMD-760 MP chipset unleashes the power of DDR memory
technology, which combines with other sophisticated core logic in
data, memory and I/O control as well as system and power management
to provide a powerful solution for server and workstation platforms.
The AMD-760 MP chipset supports up to two AMD Athlon MP processors
with independent 266MHz front side buses, as well as PC2100 DDR memory
and AGP 4x graphics.
AMD-760 MPX Chipset
The AMD-760 MPX chipset is a high performance, two-way multiprocessor
core logic solution for the AMD Athlon MP family of processors,
offering Multi-Processor eXtended (MPX) performance compared to its
predecessor, the AMD-760 MP chipset. The AMD-760 MPX chipset
offers extended performance through a 66MHz/64-bit/32-bit PCI bus
and a feature-rich peripheral bus controller that provides PCI-to-PCI
The AMD-760 MPX chipset consists of two chipsthe AMD-762
system controller (northbridge), and the AMD-768 peripheral
bus controller (southbridge). The AMD-760 MPX chipset unleashes the
power of DDR memory technology, which combines with other sophisticated
core logic in data, memory and I/O control as well as system and power
management to provide a powerful solution for server and workstation
The AMD-760 MPX chipset supports up to two AMD Athlon MP processors
with independent 266MHz front side buses, as well as PC2100 DDR memory
and AGP 4x graphics.
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