AMD Processor History: An overview from the K5 to the Athlon XP
Summer 1999: The Athlon
June 23, 1999 was certainly a big event for many AMD fans, because on this day the delivery of the new seventh generation microprocessor, the 'Athlon', began. The processor was available at 500, 550 and 600 MHz, although there were major bottlenecks in the supply of this processor, especially at the beginning. By choosing the product name, AMD wanted to emphasize that the new processor had a performance format that was well above the level of the previous K6 processor family. The Athlon not only had more L1 and L2 caches (128KB and 512KB respectively) than its predecessors, it also came with an extended 3DNow! Instruction set, which is still known as 3DNow! was conducted. The first series of the Athlon processor were manufactured in 0.25 µm, later the switch to the 0.18 µm technology, which is now gradually becoming the standard, also came here. The Athlon offered a bus clock frequency of revolutionary 200 MHz, which it generated from a real clock rate of 100 MHz using a trick. The EV6 protocol developed by DEC for the Alpha processor and licensed by AMD for the Athlon enabled data to be sent on the falling as well as the rising clock edge based on the principle of the 'Double Data Rate' (DDR), which doubled the FSB and thus effective 200 MHz made possible. And according to the motto 'new CPU,new socket ', the Athlon also required a new mainboard. But not the socket, no, as with Intel, it should be the slot. Christened SlotA, the slot, which is extremely similar to the Intel Slot1, was allowed to be the gigantic circuit board The large L2 cache and technical backlogs that did not allow the memory to be placed on the 'Die' for little money had caused this development, with half the CPU speed on the slower and 1/3 to 2/5 of the clock with the faster SlotA Athlons, the L2 cache clock was also rather conservative.
Nonetheless, within With the new architecture, AMD was only able to increase the clock frequency of the new top model to 650, 700 and ultimately to 750 MHz towards the end of November for just four months. In terms of performance, AMD finally achieved the breakthrough with the Athlon and the Athlon became a serious competitor for Intel. However, AMD had not only caught up with Intel in terms of performance, the two competitors were also able to shake hands for the first time in terms of pricing. For example, when the Athlon was released with 750MHz and 1,000 units were purchased, 799 US dollars had to be put on the table. From now on, both companies engaged in a tough battle for the fastest processor on the market. On December 20, 1999, Intel presented the Pentium III with 750 and 800 MHz, both of which were already manufactured in 0.18 µm and their L2 cache was installed directlythe processor. So Intel was finally able to start the new year with the highest clocked processor. On January 6, 2000, exactly two years after the K6 processor was presented, AMD added an Athlon to its processor series with a processor speed of 800 MHz and thus caught up with Intel again.
Hardly had AMD on March 6, 2000 started delivering the 0.18µm, the fastest and last SlotA Athlon with a GHz, followed by Intel two days later. However, Intel officially had to admit that this processor will only be available in limited numbers. In July 2000, Intel tried to win back the speed crown for itself. However, the 1.13 GHz Pentium III for slot 1 had to be withdrawn from the market shortly after its introduction due to serious errors.
2000: Athlon Thunderbird
As part of the technical development, a new Athlon was presented on June 5, 2000, in which the 'Thunderbird Core' should do its work from now on. This was characterized by a 256KB L2 cache integrated in the processor (embedded) operated at full CPU speed, which made the large SlotA board of the first Athlon generation useless again after a short guest performance. For cost reasonsAMD dug up the old socket and created the slightly modified socket A. However, a small series of SlotA-Thunderbird CPUs also changed hands, because they did not want to mess up with the target group of angry Slot-A owners. The Duron processor, which, according to AMD, represents the 'optimized solution for price-conscious home and business users', was announced on that day. It is based on the same technology as the Athlon, but its core was named 'Spitfire' to distinguish it. This low-cost processor, trimmed to 64KB in the Level2 cache, should compete in the lower price segment against Intel's technologically inferior Celeron with clock rates of up to 700 MHz initially.
On the next page: 2001: Palomino replaces Thunderbird