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HardwareZone's 10th Anniversary: The 1998 - 1999 Era

The CPU Evolution - 1999

The CPU Evolution - 1999

For AMD, 1999 would be a significant year. It was the year that its new K7 micro-architecture was launched to critical acclaim from hardware enthusiasts and reviewers around the world. We even got hold of the very first version tested and reviewed - the AMD Athlon K7 500MHz . Featuring a new RISC, out-of-order CPU that had a double data rate memory bus and a super-pipelined triple-issue floating point unit among other innovations, the Athlon was clearly faster than Intel's current Pentium III models. As a result, sales of the Athlon were strong and AMD was soon on the lips of enthusiasts.

 AMD showed that it was no longer content to follow Intel's lead with the Athlon Classic.

While we were equally enthusiastic about the Athlon when it was released, we also took the time to explore if its performance was affected by a change in L2 cache speed, a measure which was implemented by AMD with certain of its models due to the cost and the technological limitations of the memory used for that L2 cache. As our HardwareZone article by Dr Jimmy Tang pointed out, there is indeed a slight performance difference, though "the effect of a slower L2 cache is very small, especially in normal office applications. However, if you're using CPU intensive software (e.g. graphics, multimedia or simulation), the performance would be affected."

Obviously, this was a minor issue that did not adversely affect the sales of the Athlon, which grew further in popularity with the debut of the Thunderbird core the following year. Intel's Pentium III was unable to compete, even with the newer Coppermine variants. The undisputed advantage held by AMD was to last until 2001 when the Intel Pentium 4 became available.

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