|It was always the same, AMD would launch a new processor and Intel
reacted by making their performance eqiuvalent their entry model. Thereby
slashing prices and make it very difficult for AMD to get a decent share
of the market. When the K5-100 came to marked, Intel already was at speeds
of 200MHz. When AMD finally had the performance to battle Intel with the
K5-166, Intel left the Pentium Classic market and concentrated on the next
generation Pentium MMX.
And then there was the K6, with this CPU things changed a little.
AMD's 6th generation processor was available at speeds of 166, 200 and
233MHz. Intel was still relying heavily on the Pentium MMX and yet ready
to move on to the save realm of the Pentium II. The K6 took everyone by
surprise, Intel, the consumers and even AMD themselves!
In 1994 AMD bought a small but innavative chip design company
NexGen which pioneerd the use of RISC core designs for x86 use. NexGen
only released one CPU until then, the Nx586 which was a modest commercial
succes. But work on the design for their next generation processor had
already begun. It would be called the Nx686 and should be able to rival
Intel's next generation CPU performance. When AMD aquired NexGen, the
design of the Nx686 was changed to make it Socket7 compatible and the
name was changed to K6.
The CPU market longed for a good performing Intel alternative,
the K6 met that demand. When the K6 was lauched in April 1997 there was
a big demand for the CPU and AMD struggeled to meet it. Early K6's were
manufactured at 0.35µ but this manufacturing process gave AMD endless
troubles resulting in low yields. Only after the switch to the new 0.25µ
manufacturing process in Q4 of 1997 the yields improved and AMD was finally
could meet the demand for the K6.
Speeds ranged from 166 to 300MHz, second level cache was installed
on the motherboard and could be as big as 1MB. The FSB ran at 66MHz and
the CPU used the 321 pin Socket7 to interface with the motherboard. The
K6 also had an MMx implementation which was slower than that of the Pentium
MMX. But as only a handfull of programms used these instructions there
was no serious performance hit.
Overall performance was more or less equal to that of the Pentium
MMX. The FPU performance was a little behind that of the Pentium MMX and
the Integer performance was better than that of the Pentium MMX. The integer
performance of the K6 could even rival with Intel's next generation CPU,
the Pentium II.
Available models :
K6 166MHz (K6), 2.5 x 66MHz
K6 200MHz (K6), 3.0 x 66MHz
K6 233MHz (K6), 3.5 x 66MHz
K6 266MHz (Littlefoot), 4.0 x 66MHz
K6 300MHz (Littlefoot), 4.5 x 66MHz
AMD K6 pictures