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Sooner or later, everyone has to face the problem that their computer is not fast enough. The conventional way to solve this by buying a new one or upgrading the current one quickly becomes expensive and is only seldom justifiable. However, home users have the option of tuning their systems using all the tricks in the books. Yes indeed, we're talking about traditional overclocking.
During the days of the AMD K5 and the Pentium MMX, this was still child's play because the multiplier could be freely selected most of the time. It wasn't seldom that a Pentium 166 MMX could be run at 200 MHz or even 233 MHz, because ultimately, the chips came from the same production line and were labeled according to the demand, and it's the same with chips today.
Because this tuning method was unproblematic, it quickly became a popular sport, and it cost the manufacturers a pretty penny - even if AMD used this "freedom" as a way of gaining market shares. This is the reason why Intel has been burning a fixed multiplier into its processors since the Pentium III, so that overclocking is only possible by increasing the system clock. With the higher speed, however, you risk having an unstable system because the processor, its bus and, depending on the system, the system memory, the AGP bus and the IDE controller are all overclocked.
With the Pentium 4, nothing can be done with the multiplier, while AMD's Athlon XP always gives you possibilities . These vary with the Thunderbird and Barton cores, though. Upgradeware now offers a small adapter that lets you freely select the multiplier with all Athlon XP models - and it's only limited by the multipliers that the processor recognizes.