The New Athlon Processor: AMD Is Finally Overtaking Intel


The New Athlon Processor - AMD Is Finally Overtaking Intel

Back in October 1998 at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California, the PC-world watched and listened in amazement to Dirk Meyer's first presentation of K7's or now Athlon's architecture. It was quite obvious to experts as well to most other listeners, including Intel employees, that this new AMD processor would mark a new era in the processor world, if AMD could make its promises come true. Now finally, the waiting is over and we can look at a new processor that is indeed living up to all the positive expectations that arose at the end of last year.

Later on in this article you will find that the AMD Athlon beats the Intel Pentium III in virtually any benchmark we've ran, but before we get into those benchmark numbers, I'd like to take the time and explain why the concept of Athlon is indeed more than 'just another new CPU', but a milestone in the whole processor scene.

Athlon's Micro-Architecture

The AMD Athlon is manufactured in 0.25µ technology and consists of no less than 22 million transistors.

I will try and make a comparison between the architecture of Athlon and Pentium III as far as it's possible, so that we can see why Athlon beats Pentium III in pretty much any benchmark. I'll discuss the internal units first, followed by the caches and the bus protocol, finally closing with Athlon's chipset 'Irongate'.