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AMD K7 snatches at Intel high-end crown

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AMD's forthcoming K7 processor is set to tackle Intel's high end CPUs head on, with a ground-up new core design, high-speed system bus technology, a multi-processing oriented architecture and a Slot 1 configuration. K7 supports clock speeds of 500MHz and up. Initially, it will support bus speeds of up to 200MHz, using the Alpha EV6 bus technology, developed by Digital, but that will rise to 400MHz in the next release, said Dirk Meyer, AMD's director of engineering for K7. The chip's new core will also feature the "world's most powerful FPU in the x86 architecture", added Meyer, and support 512K to 8MB of L2 cache. Unlike forthcoming chips from Cyrix and Rise Technology, K7's L2 cache is currently off the chip, but Meyer said future K6 processors would bring the L2 onto the die, suggesting K7 may ultimately follow this trend too. Performance of MMX and 3DNow is improved with three superscalar multimedia extension units. Meyer would not be drawn on whether the chip will ultimately also support Intel's forthcoming Katmai multimedia extensions, due Q1 1999. "We'll evaluate them when more details emerge," said Meyer. However, he added, until then the Great Satan Wannabe is happy to continue pushing 3DNow, confident of its head-start over Katmai. "By the time Katmai ships, we'll have over ten million [K6-2 and above CPUs] out there," he said, and predicted total shipments of over 30 million by the end of next year. Meyer also claimed K7 would receive strong support from chip-set and motherboard vendors, and promised K7 boards from "leading vendors" at the chip's launch, currently pegged for the rather wide timeframe of first half 1999. He also said the chip will be made available on a daughtercard containing backside L2 cache and which connects to the motherboard via a Slot 1-type connector. Asked if a Socket 7 version would be made available, Meyer simply said Socket 7 was adequately supported by AMD's K6 series. A further sign of K7's emphasis on the high end is its claimed ability to be easy to use in multi-processor systems. "With K7 we'll be able to attack this market, which we've never addressed before," said Meyer. ® Click for more stories

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