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I spoke to Dana Krelle , AMD's vice president of marketing, and he gave me the latest scoop on AMD's plans. K6-3 is supposed to ship very close to Intel's Pentium III launch. AMD is trying to release this new CPU with 256 kB on-die L2 cache already prior to Intel's Pentium III release. Most of you know that K6-3 will run on the same Socket7-motherboards that currently host K6-2 CPUs, you may only require a BIOS update. The performance of K6-3 will be high enough to make it very competitive to Intel's Pentium III, the K6-3 version at 450 MHz will most likely outperform the new Pentium III 500 in many benchmarks. The highly official version says that K6-3 will definitely ship in Q1/1999, but we know that Q1 ends on March 31. Let's hope K6-3 will be available earlier than this.
K7 is also still on track, planned release time is Q2/1999. This seems surprising, because the delay of K6-3, which was expected in January 1999. K7 will be running in a new unique platform using a slot called 'SlotA', which is mechanically identical to Slot1, but using a completely different bus protocol. Thus K7 will not run in Slot1-boards and no Intel CPU will run in SlotA-boards. K7 will require its own new chipset and AMD will be the first supplier of one. The bus protocol used by K7 is called 'EV6', known from Digital's Alpha CPUs. The EV6-bus of K7 is supposed to run at 200 MHz, offering a significantly higher bandwidth than the 100 or later 133 MHz bus clock used by Intel's Pentium II and Pentium III CPUs. The performance of K7 is expected to be significantly above Pentium II or Pentium III level, in office, multimedia, 3D as well as floating point intensive applications. For more information about K7 please look at 'Why AMD's K7 will be Intel's toughest competitor ever '.
I also asked about the K6-2 pricing. You may remember that Intel's Celeron 366 for Socket370 is currently cheaper than a K6-2 400, although it is faster than its competitor from AMD . So far K6-2's pricing was adjusted to Intel's Pentium II pricing, but Intel's new Celerons provide very similar performance to a Pentium II at the same clock at a significantly lower price. Thus one would expect that AMD would now adjust the prices to Celeron to stay competitive. Mr. Krelle denied that AMD is having any actual planes to do so. "K6-2 is selling extremely well and we don't see any actual reason to lower K6-2-pricing. We will respond if the market should force us into price changes, but so far we cannot see that ."
Dana could also give me some more information about the K6-2 AFR66, the batch of K6-2-CPUs that is only supposed to run at 66 MHz system bus clock. The vast majority of this batch of several hundred thousand CPUs went to OEMs and thus into complete systems that automatically use the correct bus clock. Mr. Krelle stated that only a very small minority should have gone into the retail market for single CPUs. This might be the reason why I only received very few emails of people who bought an AFR66-version. I would still like to remind you though, that a K6-2 300 AFR66 is not the same as a normal K6-2 300, since it does not run reliably at 100 MHz bus speed in all the Super7-boards out there. Make sure that you don't find the marking 'AFR66' on a K6-2 CPU that you buy, unless you are aware that you have to run it at 66 MHz bus clock.