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THE AMD ATHLON PROCESSOR
Last updated: 11/22/99

The Athlon has a 200 Mhz System bus.  The block diagram to the right shows the Athlon with AMD's 750 chipset consisting of the 751 Northbridge System Controller and 756 Southbridge Peripheral bus controller.  Remember, the cache' is inside the CPU.  The System Bus goes between the processor and the Northbridge.  The Northbridge interfaces to the three additional buses: the memory bus to main memory (100 Mhz, PC-100), the AGP bus going to the AGP graphics slot (66 Mhz, AGP 2X), and the PCI bus (33 Mhz).  The Southbridge hangs off the PCI bus.  The System Bus or Front Side Bus (FSB) is the data expressway or funnel which carries all of the data to and from the CPU from the other buses via the Northbridge.  The System Bus consists of three independent, synchronously-clocked 200 Mhz
high-speed channels:

  • 13-pin processor request channel

  • 13-pin system probe channel

  • 72-pin data transfer channel (8-bit ECC)

The bus is capable of transferring peak data rates of  1.6 Bytes per second and 64-Bytre Burst data transfers.  In short, the Athlon has a 200 Mhz System Bus between it and the Northbridge chip.

The Athlon has Slot A infrastructure design.   The Athlon processor plugs into a Slot A socket which looks like, but is not electronically the same as an Intel Slot 1 socket.  The Athlon has an electrical interface compatible with 200-MHz AMD Athlon system bus, which is based on DEC's (Compaq) Alpha EV6 bus protocol.  Do not plug this CPU into a Slot 1 motherboard.  However, the Athlon can use the same mechanical components (heat sinks, fans, etc.) as the Intel Slot 1 CPUs.  In short, the Athlon uses a Slot A motherboard and can use Slot 1 heat-sink/CPU fans.

SUMMARY

  • The Athlon is the first seventh generation X86 processor.

  • X86 instructions are decoded into Athlon instructions.

  • The Instruction Control Unit is a managed buffer between the decoders and schedulers.

  • Two execution schedulers manage the execution pipelines.

  • There are nine independent execution pipelines.  Three of them are floating point units.

  • The Athlon implements Enhanced 3DNow!™ with SMID.

  • The Athlon has advanced branch prediction logic

  • 128 Kbytes of L1 and 512 KBytes of L2 cache' are built-in.

  • There is a 200 Mhz System Bus between the CPU and the Northbridge chip.

  • The Athlon uses a Slot A motherboard and can use Slot 1 heat-sink/CPU fans.

BOTTOM LINE

The Athlon is the fastest X86 CPU I've ever seen!

Larry

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Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.