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AMD Processor History: An overview from the K5 to the Athlon XP

AMD Processor History: An overview from the K5 to the Athlon XP

Spring 1999: Short guest performance of the K6 III

So on November 16, 1998 the one in October announced variant of the K6-2 with 400 MHz released for sale. Along with this announcement, the K6-2 with 380 and 366 MHz was also presented. Another variant with 450 MHz followed on February 26, 1999. Although the architecture had actually reached the limit of what was feasible and had actually already been replaced by another successor to the K6 generation, the 475 MHz processor followed on April 5th and the 500 MHz fast K6-2 processor on August 30th. Even a K6-2 with 550 MHz was introduced in January 2000. Most of the time, however, these CPUs ended up in OEM devices and not on the free market. Replaced because AMD even before the sales launch of the K6-2 with 450 MHz, to be precise on February 22, 1999, the K6-III with 3DNow! and the integrated L2 cache. And at the beginning of 2000 the K7 had long since started its triumphal march.

K6 K6-2 K6 III production (µm) 0.35 and 0.25 0.25 0.25 transistors 8.8 Million 9.3 million 21.3 million CPU sockets Socket7 Super Socket7 Super Socket7 Clock rates 166 - 300 MHz 266 - 550 MHz 400 - 450 MHz Front-Side-Bus 66 MHz 66, 95, 100 MHz 100 MHz L1- Cache 64KB 64KB 64KB L2 cacheup to 2048KB 'on board' up to 2048KB 'on board' 256KB 'on the' L2 cache clocking bus clock bus clock CPU clock L3 cache no no up to 2048KB 'on board' VCore 2.1 - 2.3V 2 , 1 - 2.3V 2.2 - 2.4V instruction sets MMX MMX/3DNow! MMX/3DNow!

While the K6-2 processors were comparatively cheap with an average introductory price of around 200 US dollars, a total of 476 US dollars had to be paid for the K6-III with 450 MHz. Since the complete L2 cache with a size of 256kb was accommodated on the processor core itself, the number of transistors of the processor had more than doubled compared to the predecessor with 21.3 million and the production effort and the failure rate had increased significantly - the price rose. The memory, which was initially soldered on the mainboard as a Level2 cache, could now be used as a third buffer between CPU and RAM. With the help of this 'TriLevel Cache Architecture' it was possible to significantly increase the performance of the processors in some applications and were now also prepared for Pentium III with Katmai core, which three days after the K6-III was introduced by Intel with a cycle of 450 and 500 MHz was launched. The main innovations of the Pentium III processor included 70 new commands, which were designated as Internet Streaming SIMD Extensions, or ISSE for short. Further variants of the K6-III were never presented, henceforth the K7, which reached the market under the name 'Athlon', should be the flagship processor from AMD.

AMD K6-III 450
AMD K6-III

On the next page: Summer 1999: The Athlon