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K8 Details 101

Urban Dragon writes "Cnet has a story on how AMD will be giving details of it's K8 chip next week. The K8 will be competing with Intel's Merced chip. It should be interesting to see which comes out first. " Maybe it won't run as hot, either. I mean, I'll want one regardless, but...
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K8 Details

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  • by SmokeyDP ( 78134 )
    So much for the K7 eh? Shame...cause I was going to upgrade my K6....
  • is it going to be 32 or 64 bit?
    And will be 18-micron?
  • My - you certainly can't read, can you? :)

    It's going to be competing with Merced (64bit), and they even SAID it can do 64 bits/clock.

    As for .18 (not 18, there's a huge difference) micron, it doesn't say :).
  • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Friday October 01, 1999 @04:55AM (#1645896)
    This is just pure speculation, but if the K8 is going to be a 64bit chip it'll need a new instruction set. Isn't the Alpha a pretty damn good 64bit chip with and instruction set that's already supported by Linux, NT 4.0, VMS, and Tru64? Why doesn't AMD either use the same instruction set or start making Alphas (or RISC chips that can also run x86 binaries)? Basically, we have x86, RISC (and many RISC platforms, by the way), and Merced/McKinley. Why are we going to need another instruction set? Maybe AMD will just highly optimize their x86 processors. I'd rather see that than yet another platform.
    By the way, wouldn't it be nice if an EV7 motherboard could handle either a K7 or Alpha? We could buy one motherboard and choose between CISC or RISC. Imagine upgrading from an Athlon to an Alpha. There are so many cool things AMD could be doing right now. I just wish we could see some action.
  • Well, if the K8 is to compete with Merced, it will have to be 64-bit. AMD will have to reduce the die size also, if they don't want them to roast right through the motherboard.
  • by Ikan ( 72659 )
    Don't worry about the K7, it will remain on the top of the processor heap for a while. I have much more faith in the longetivity of AMD's products compared to that of Intel's. Merced is being rushed to market in order to compete with AMD's Athlon (K7), but while Intel tries to play catch up, they're being surpassed by the K8. Both companies are familiar with this game, but it's AMD's turn to be on top.
  • I would wonder how AMD would name it's next gen chip. K9?(I know it's off-topic but....)
  • The K8 isn't even close to a production line of any kind. We already have problems getting the K7, let alone any 64-bit CPU. I think the K8 announcements are just market stimulation, to keep the folk talking about AMD and to prove that AMD is keeping up the pace with Intel (if not exceeding Intel, technologically). If their K7 is a success (which it isn't right now), maybe AMD will have a chance to kick some Intel butt.

    Competition is good. Go buy an Athlon! I'm picking mine up next week!
  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Friday October 01, 1999 @05:01AM (#1645901)
    Following its architectural triumph with the Athlon chip, Advanced Micro Devices next week will detail the K8, a 64-bit chip that will compete against Intel's Merced.

    Very nice, unfortunateley it's not a question of having a good CPU architecture, but to a much larger degree a marketing question. I don't doubt that AMD can design a good K8 chip, but in order to do that, they first have to make the K7 a success. They are pretty strapped for cash and unless they can stop bleeding red ink, they might not even be around long enough to see the introduction of the K8. So they can design decent CPUs. This is good, but hardly news. In the past they had good chip designs falter due to manufacturing problems. Lets hope they can ramp up K7 production fast enough so they have a product to sell.

    Having said that with a light undertone of sarcasm, I should probably note that I am/was a satisfied AMD customer. I wish them well because Intel deserves some competition, but they need to be careful not to repeat past mistakes. They have to become profitable soon, which is no easy task when you face a giant like Intel.

  • I noticed that the article makes brief reference to the problems AMD have with getting the Taiwan industries to provide the motherboard support, whihc could cripple AMD's speed to market gain. This would be a shame; when I bought my K6-2 a while back, I think my bangs-for-bucks versus Intel was extremely good.

    I would have liked a much more in-depth discussion of the motherboard support required - can any of you solder-heads out there enlighten me?

  • If it's competing with Merced that pretty much means that it'll be a 64-bit chip.
    Everything tht I've seen/heard about this thing leads me to believe that it'll be at LEAST .18u, and possibly smaller, copper, etc. I'm beginning to wonder if Intel realizes that AMD is making a very strong case to NOT use Intel CPUs for the time being...After all, AMD is stockpiling 800Mhz K7s as we speak :)
    Coppermine? 700 and 733? WTF? That's slow man. When ya have parts being tested at 900Mhz and 1 Ghz already (ie, we're STILL talking .25u and non-copper) and over clocking said parts to 1.1Ghz with NORMAL cooling (amdzone.com), something was designed right, and implemented right.
    AMD is also supposedly getting REALLY good yields right now. Intel should be worried about CuMine, Willamette and Foster making ANY sort of dent in the IA32 performance arena with AMD crankign about monsters like this.
  • The chip will rock if they can get production lines going. They will need all the help they can get though. Maybe they should talk to IBM and Motorola whose Power PC already has specs for 128 Bits and clock cycles of 1 & 2 gigahertz. The company has had a long history of playing catch-up with Intel. They can pull ahead in terms of speed and cost if they just produce enough chips. Personally, I always liked the company and its products. I still have a 486 DX4-100 from them. It zooms along just fine.
  • I'm taking it as something of a given that AMD hasn't really gotten a decent break on the Athlon. CNET's article points out that despite the fact that the Athlon chips have regluarly beaten the pants off Pentium IIIs, but they haven't been able to make a comperable dent in the market, largely due to their inability to procure parts. Hardly anyone is making Athlon mobos, which is a damn shame.

    That being the case, what are the chances for the K8? They'll be intended for a much more limited market than the Athlons to begin with. I can't see a mobo manufacturer nervous about ponying up resouces to make Athlon stuff being sold on the K8. Throw in the tendency of corporate users to by the safest solution, and AMD may be screwed.

    I really hope we're not in for yet another round of the "superior tech can't get an even break" game.
  • Sounds to me like the details are spotty so far, and the point of this article is that it will EVENTUALLY be detailed at that conference.

    Patrick Barrett

  • - which was obvious anyway. There's no sense in designing a new 32-bit processor at this point.

    As for the size, that will depend on what's available when it arrives.

  • Working at an OEM, I thought that I'd be able to get my hands on an Athalon right away. No dice. But it's not because of any manufacturing difficulties. From what we've heard, it's because the larger OEMs (Dell, Compaq, IBM) bought up the first couple of batches. Maybe soon though....
  • I sincerely hope that the K9 chip debuts in a dog shaped grey case on wheels, and wanders about saying "Master?"
  • Maybe AMD plan to license Transmeta's technology to emulate IA-64.
  • Well the K8 is touted as a 64 bit chip but this can mean different things to marketing weasels than to engineers. If it is a true 64 bit ISA then it will be very interesting to see what they did. AMD had two choices in making a 64 bit chip.

    The first is to build an IA-32 x86 chip and then add a mode that extends the x86 ISA with 64 bit registers, integer and logical operations, and flat addressing ("64 bit x86").

    The alternative is to build a bilingual CPU that can execute both IA-32/x86 in one mode and a 64 bit ISA in another. There is really only one choice for the latter that makes sense - Alpha. AMD already licenses EV6 interface technology from Compaq and an Alpha ISA license would be an extension of it. It couldn't be Intel's IA-64 for two simple reasons: 1) details of IA-64 are only gradually entering the public domain, and 2) Intel has many aspects of IA-64 patented and cloning it would be like entering an infinitely deep legal minefield.

    I suspect the K8 is the former, a 64 bit extended x86 although the apps and os software availability problems seem formidable. M$ has its hands full with x86 and now IA-64 versions of windoze and there already is an ideal 64 bit ISA to run Linux on - Alpha :)
  • FYI, last I heard the Coppermine is a very misleading name in that the chips will NOT be copper. Still aluminum for now. Anyone have a clue why they named it coppermine? I'd like to know.

    Patrick Barrett

  • That would be a dog of a processor.

    (play Macintosh HD::System Folder::Sounds::sosumi.snd)
  • Except the fact that there is no "K7". Athalon is AMDs answer to the whole Pentium/Celeron naming scheme. Unfortunately for them the media and the general populous have refused to let it die.
  • FYI, last I heard the Coppermine is a very misleading name in that the chips will NOT be copper. Still aluminum for now. Anyone have a clue why they named it coppermine? I'd like to know.

    Not the chips, but the interconnects between layers. If I'm not mistaken, coppermine refers to how the interconnects are done. Usually they're done with (I believe) tungsten plugs, but the coppermine chips use copper.

    Someone will correct me if I'm mistaken, I'm sure. :-)
  • AMD is kind of strapped for cash. They've never been as successful as Intel, even when they were the official second source for Intel devices, so they've never had a cash cow to give them the kind of capital and access to engineering expertise Intel got from DRAM and then from the x86. Last year they haemoraged money trying to keep the price of the K6-3 down. Athlon might give them access to some cash, but I wouldn't count on it. This all means they can't swan off for a few years throwing money after some blue-sky project like and Alpha/x86 crossover, nor can they expect to get a whole new 64 bit instruction set adopted widely.

    My guess would be that they'll either go for some kind of adaptive system like the one Transmeta seems to be working on, or they'll adopt the EPIC instructions that Merced will use. Alpha is something of an outside chance - they never really took off so there's a lack of software, and it doesn't have the inbuilt parallelism that the HP-Intel VLIW-only-not-called-that approach has.
  • It seems to me that a year ago I was reading how the K6-3 and eventually the K7 would be bring AMD out of the low-end desktop market into the high-end desktop market. They could be *gasp* faster than Intel on the desktop. The K6-3 did that and has been selling well.

    Now the line is that the K8 could bring them into the server and multi-processor market. Never quite good enough for the journalists, eh? No one seems to be noting that this company has gone from making 486 clones after the 486 was being fazed out by Intel to creating a chip that was cheaper and faster than Intel's best offering (excluding the Xeon's which are only overpriced Pentium III's with tons of L2 cache).

    On top of that, they are selling! AMD beat Intel in retail sales for a quarter! Big guys like Compaq, Gateway, and Intel are selling them in their systems! If you would have told me 2 years ago that AMD would beat Intel in sales and that you could buy one in a Compaq, I would have tried to sell you some nice swamp land in Florida.

    As far as AMD bleeding red, look at any company playing catch up or expanding as quickly as AMD and you will always see a trail of red.

  • by asa ( 33102 )
    The Athlon is testing at 900megahertz and 1000megahertz. AMD has boxed and ready to go large shipmets of 800megahertz Athlons. I'd say that any investment in an Athlon is a safe one. Just think, buy that Athlon 600 Monday when the 700 is released, get a great deal on a processor that outperforms a PIII650 and have a system that you can upgrade to 800 or 900 by the end of the year or early 2000.
  • One strange thing I've seen with Athlons..
    Several companies round here actually have the Athlon chips in stock.. They're advertising them across the web by mail order...
    Yet not a one of them advertises a mother board...
    As far as I can see, this is going to kill enthusiasm faster than anything else... People going out to buy the chip and board, seeing the chip present, but not being able to do anything with it other than use it as a paperweight...
    Womething has to be afoot to keep the motherboard manufacturers at bay like this... It seems AMD have the chips there, but the M/board manufactures are holding back..
    I'm still drooling here, and waiting, but feeling more disenchanted as the days pass, and still not board to be had...
    So, any motherboard makers out there.. Get into gear guys, there's easy money to be had...

  • Coppermine is a river on the West Coast. Intel has been code-naming their CPUs after rivers since the "Klamath"... This trend will continue with the Williamette, etc.

  • Actually if they want to be compatible with the Merced (IA-64), then instead of using Alpha technology they will need to clone HP PA-RISC, which is what the 64 bit part of IA-64 is largely based on. If AMD chooses for the K8 not to be IA-64 compatible, then they may have a lot of problems competing with the IA-64, since it is unlikely that Microsoft will be able to support the K8, and they will still be in direct competition with other 64-bit RISC architectures in the *nix market (UltraSparc, PA-RISC, Alpha, MIPS, etc).
  • Might have been more interesting if it were the actual detail announcement. Things like number of simultaneous real-world instructions per clock, support for predicated instructions, register counts and windows, demands upon compilers...

    Pure clock speed ain't enough, folks. Judging from (dated) info about the IA-64 architecture, there's a lot of nifty stuff that AMD has to at least match if they want to claim any sort of lasting advantage.
  • Just a guess but I think it's named after the Coppermine River, a Northern Territories river that joins the Arctic Ocean at a town called Kugluktuk (formerly named Coppermine). This would fit with Intel's other river coenames like Merced and Willamette, etc. But that's just a guess.
  • Good for running a Beo-woof cluster!

    (Sorry... I just felt some strange, inexplicable need to make that bad pun...)


  • its so nice to see someone giving intel some real competition!
    now intel needs to remove that little "watermark" that is present in pIII chip in the merced chips.
    maybe ill consider buying a new pentium then, until then its going to be AMD for the x86 machines.

    and lately everytime i think of chips g4 lingers in my mind. no matter how much you dislike macs all of us have to admit g4s make you horny. well unless you can afford a alpha heh

  • Doctor Who! >:) I wish they would bring back that series... The 3rd Doctor just Rocked....

    'Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!'
    Gotta love Dahleks.>:)

  • "I don't doubt that AMD can design a good K8 chip, but in order to do that, they first have to make the K7 a success."

    i think k7 has done pretty good. considering the fact intel completely owned the cpu market 4 or 5 years ago. i dont know if the k7 is going to go much further than it already has. although with intel's "watermark" of their pIII chips... if im in the cpu buying mood it won't be a pIII.

  • I've said it before; [slashdot.org] all sorts of vendors have come up with nifty new CPUs over the years, but without a source of economical motherboards, people can't build systems.

    The slowness of release of Athlon-based systems appears to be related to, surprise, surprise, a dearth of availability of motherboards. I wouldn't want to be accusative of Intel for formenting this, but I'm sure they're very grateful at the inability of AMD to sell massive quantities of Athlon chips...

    Every time a new CPU comes out, the real insight comes from looking to the motherboards...

  • I along with anyone would buy the AMD chips if I could over clock them more than a pentium chip. AMD has a good design but manegerial problems and problems managing finances. I would also like to see some good competition for Intell so chip prices could go down so I could afford to build a duel processor machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As of Oct 4 price cut Athlon 600s are going to be much cheaper than Intel 600s. Numerous reviews have showed that Athlon is 10 to 40 % faster than Intel's whimpy P3. What we see now is a great product that is early in its life span and introduction. With VIA KX133 chipset and more proven motherboards I look for K7 to dominate in certain market segments like scientific computing and artistic rendering. There are a lot of people taking a wait and see approach to the Athlon. And most of the early motherboards have been rock solid. Once Tyan releases their motherboard in November and is able to get good quantities then more OEMs will start to switch. Dresden has been a giant financial weight around AMDs shoulders that should lift once it comes into production Q1 00. The P3 will simply not be able to keep up. Athlon 800s are already in production. It will be interesting to see how long Intel stalwarts like VA Systems can hold off from AMD once the SMP Athlon boards are out that provide 50 to 100 speed difference over sucky Intel GTL+.
  • This is an announcement of an announcement of a product I doubt is barely in design. The only point of it is to say that big new is coming at the Microprocessor Expo. Even then its going to be vaporware to the nth degree. I doubt that the feature set is even fully hammered out yet.

    I think it is closer to the Detriot Auto expo where GM, Ford, etc get together and show off concept cars that will likely not be produced within the next 10 years.

  • Sorry, but IA-64 goes way beyond PA-RISC. There are a number of features in IA-64 that are not in PA-RISC and are the subject of patents. These include the way the predicate registers are saved, the advanced load mechanism, the way NAT bits are used and so and so on. Cloning PA-RISC 2.0 gets you nowhere.

    IMHO a 64 bit x86 is an abomination that should never see the light of day. But unless AMD has long term plans to abandon the general purpose desktop MPU business for low and medium performance embedded control applications they have to be a player in 64 bits. A bilingual x86 CPU with an Alpha mode makes more sense to me but even there AMD would have to be careful not to infringe on IA-64 IP.
  • The K7 is fairly overclockable. I know a 500 can be clocked to a 700 and I've even heard peole getting them up to 800s. MAD designed this thing to ramp well.
  • and don't forget, in addition to buying a motherboard, you'll most likely also need a new power supply.

    The Athlon needs a minimum of a 300W peak PSU, and i don't know of any cases outside of big server cases that ship with 300W+. Most desktops and small towers have 200W, and midi/full towers tend be around 230-250W. Run an athlon in one of those and it'll be unstable as hell.

    High power PSU's are pretty tricky to find aswell.
  • by SEE ( 7681 )
    This is just pure speculation, but if the K8 is going to be a 64bit chip it'll need a new instruction set

    Why? It could just extend the x86 instruction set to 64 bits, especially given how the RISC86 architecture is set up. The 64-bit Alpha uses mostly the same instruction set as the old 32-bit Alphas; same with Sparcs.

    And, this gives AMD a market niche -- a 64-bit x86-optimized chip would outperform anything else running x86 software. So all those legacy apps would constitute a reason to buy AMD instead of Intel...
  • Not the chips, but the interconnects between layers. If I'm not mistaken, coppermine refers to how the interconnects are done. Usually they're done with (I believe) tungsten plugs, but the coppermine chips use copper.

    Chips are silicon... interconnect has usually been aluminum (as is the case with coppermine). 'copper' chips use copper interconnect and coppermine will not use copper interconnect.
  • Coppermine is a river, and all the IA-32 chips designed in Oregon are named after rivers.

    Some of the more clueless people around here think that calling it Coppermine is false advertising. Coppermine is an internal name for the project (it will be marketed as Pentium III), so there's no "advertising" involved.

    Furthermore, the Coppermine project was started (and named) long before IBM had announced that they were using copper. It's not like Intel could have known that at that time that copper would be the latest buzzword in the industry when the part came out. It's 100% coincidence.
  • by JCholewa ( 34629 ) on Friday October 01, 1999 @08:07AM (#1645948) Homepage
    Just a quick comment on that, AMD doesn't have a problem with finance management, at least not any more than your typical company. Their problems largely rooted in the following two factors:

    1) AMD's sixth generation processor design was put together decently, but with a very shallow pipeline. This means that with your typical ramping schema, it should be at about the same MHz level as the Cyrix chips (300MHz) or the WinChips (250MHz). As it is, AMD has an immensely aggressive ramping team which has managed to bring AMD's K6 family to just under Intel's P6 family in MHz, which has a couple effects:
    (a) Because the K6 family has been historically about two clock bins lower than the P6 family, and because Intel's pricing schema involves tremendous gulfs between the top two clock bins and all below it, AMD's cpu Average Selling Prices could not help but drop lower and lower as time progressed.
    (b) Due to the K6's low pipeline and the fab team's uncomparable (and absolutely necessary) aggressiveness, the bin split of the K6 family parts are HORRENDOUS. Before AMD's recent jump to their cs44e7 hybrid process (quarter micron with some 180nm features), the top bin being produced was 475MHz and the bottom bin was still way down at 333MHz or so, with over half the parts still binning below 400MHz. This added more shame to their ASPs, as anything below 400MHz was under a hundred bucks, which means something like only fifty dollars profit per chip, at best.
    (c) As a result of the aggressive ramping they needed (to compete with Intel's more easily rampable design), yields were kept lower than comparable Intel parts (though for the most part not horrendous, save for the little "incident" in February). This means that they get lower quantity to sell than they could have gotten otherwise, which means that, in addition to ASPs, they're making very low amounts of revenue.

    2) There really is no way to get past problem 1a without making a newer cpu core with a deeper instruction pipeline. And to get past the problem in 1b, while that newer cpu core will help, it'd really be the wiser choice to expand your capacity, so AMD has forced themselves to spend a whopping, Intel-like amount of money (in R&D and in building a whole new megafab) so that, while they hurt in current quarters, they can thrive in future quarters. Would this strategy work? It's not guaranteed, but it's a hell of a lot cooler than the old "play it safe" mentality. If AMD had played it safe and not done all this fab or R&D stuff, then they'd have easily made profits (I believe) off the K6 series in every quarter of 1998 and 1999. The only problem is that they'd be lagging in clock speed at this point and they'd have no real future technology with which to compete. In effect, though they'd be profiting, they would be writing their own tombstone. The way they're doing it now, they've lost lots of money but they *finally* have superior technology to work with. Even without that newer fab, as soon as they ramp K7 to at least 60% capacity, they'd be making a pretty solid profit. With the newer fab, they'll be able to profit very nicely and retroactively fund these projects that they so unharmoniously dumped cash into all these years. They'd also be able to afford their future plans, which is a nice byproduct.

    PC News'n'Links
    http://www.jc-news.com/pc [jc-news.com]

    PS: This stuff is largely my opinion, though I believe it to be largely based on fact. It isn't merely a pipe dream that leads me to believe that the K7 is the first design since the 486 that offers everything AMD needs to absolutely thrive in the market.
  • You are quibbling about details. I am sure that IA-64 goes beyond PA-RISC (otherwise why bother doing anything more than sticking a 32-bit x86 core in for backwards compatibility and calling it good). However, if AMD wants to clone IA-64, they would have to start by basically cloning PA-RISC and adding the same extentions to that architecture as Intel is. My point was that cloning PA-RISC is far more logical starting point for them in building an IA-64 than licensing Alpha would be. I did not mean to imply that it was everything they had to do, nothing is ever quite that simple.

    I would agree about 64-bit x86 being an abomination (and I think it would be a marketing flop as well). I don't, however, think that splitting the market with an Alpha variant would be successful for AMD either. If for no other reason than I doubt that AMD could do much differently in getting long-term cooperation from Microsoft for an Alpha derived architecture than Compaq did.

    Not only do I think that the abandonment of the desktop and server MPU market by AMD would be disasterous for the industry (competition for Intel has been a very good thing for consumers and system vendors), I think it would be disasterous in the long run for AMD, as it would permanently relegate them to being only a niche player. I think AMD's only option in the long run is to take Intel on directly with an IA-64 clone. There are ways of getting around the patent issues, although they certainly won't be easy and probably not cheap either. There are a lot of features of the current and previous generations of x86 designs that are the subjects of patents, and it hasn't stopped companies from building clones (AMD, Cyrix and IDT).

    It may at some point become not so advantageous for Intel to have all of the clone chip builders drop out of the market, as it could start or re-start a move against them on anti-trust grounds. There are other ways that having a certain amount of healthy competition is good for a company too.

  • Coppermine? 700 and 733? WTF? That's slow man. When ya have parts being tested at 900Mhz and 1 Ghz already (ie, we're STILL talking .25u and non-copper)

    You are making the very common mistake of comparing production parts to prototype parts. The 700 and 733 Coppermines are PRODUCTION. Intel has managed to fab them at high yields, and they are bug free.

    The 900 Mhz and 1 GHz K7 parts are PROTOTYPES. They may have various bugs, and they are probably not able to fab them at high yields. They may get one or two working parts per die. They are NOT parts which are ready for production and are NOT parts which can be fabbed in quantity.

    I have no doubt that Intel is testing parts at those frequencies also (they demoed a 1 GHz Coppermine at the beginning of the year). Intel is a very private company and doesn't announce their parts until they are ready for production, so you don't hear about them until they are ready for production.

    Also, your comment about K7 being 0.25 is wrong: the shipping K7 uses a hybrid 0.18/0.25 process, where the transistors are 0.18 and the lines are 0.25. This means the full 0.18 shrink of K7 will have a much lower boost than a full 0.25 to 0.18 transition (e.g. Katmai -> Coppermine). AMD advertises it as 0.25, probably to mislead people into thinking that the 0.18 shrink is going to gain them so much, and that the current part is just a preview.

    Third, while Coppermine is debuting at only 700/733 those are the first parts. K7 debuted at 500/550/600 but that doesn't mean only those parts will be available for the future.

  • No H. "Dalek" is an anagram of "Kaled", remember.

    I liked the fourth doctor (Baker #1) best, myself. Most of the time. Pertwee was cool in his own way, though, if maybe a bit... dunno.
    Berlin-- http://www.berlin-consortium.org [berlin-consortium.org]
  • by VAXman ( 96870 ) on Friday October 01, 1999 @08:48AM (#1645952)
    A year and a half ago, all we heard was "K7 is going to put Intel out of business. They are going to be for sale signs on all of Intel's fabs and they stock is going to tumble".

    A year and a half later AMD losses are at an all time high, K7 hasn't made any dent in sales, and I can't even see one at Best Buy.

    This is largely due to the pre-announcement effect: everybody heard about K7 and delays purchases of AMD chips(when they would have bought a K6).

    Now they announce the K8 when the K7 is barely ready for production. This is going to have the same effect. Consumers are going to say, "Why should I buy K7 now when K8 is coming out Really Soon Now?" They'll probably just buy Intel.

    Willamette/Foster will be out by the time K8 is. What has the world heard about that? Very little. Almost no details have been made public.

    Intel never makes the details of a processor public to the industry until it it ready for VOLUME production. Often their published figures are lower than expected, so the compeititors feel comfortable and slack off, then they grab the crown from out of nowhere (P6 is the prime example, and Willlamette/Foster will do the same).

    This is the reason Intel is more successful than AMD - they don't preannounce, so they can sell chips they can fab in volume NOW, and not tell customers "don't buy what we have now just wait a little while longer and we'll have this whiz-bang part" (OK, they didn't do this with Merced, but they have with everything else)
  • by SEE ( 7681 )
    Ooops -- mental gear slip. Now if I could only remember what my original example was...

    Still, the point stands that you don't need an all-new instruction set for the transition from 32 to 64 bits.
  • Do you know how the x86 cloners got around Intel's x86 patents? Basically they build them in a fab whose owners have patent cross licensing agreements with Intel (AMD is a special case but that is a story for another day). A landmark legal case established that a fab owner's license covered an x86 clones built in that fab regardless of whose design it was.

    Intel was sure steamed about that ruling and has taken steps to ensure that no one can gain access to IA-64 in the same way. IA-64 has dozens of features that are patented or in the process of being patented. It is not good enough to be able to build a CPU that is 99% compatible with IA-64. Look at Lexra; they designed a MIPS clone embedded core but couldn't include the unaligned load and store instructions because SGI/MIPS had patents on the concept and implementation. In the end Lexra couldn't claim MIPS compatibility. This doesn't seem to have hurt Lexra but the embedded control world is a completely different market than desktop computers, servers, and workstations.

    Aside from that, IA-64 is huge creaking edifice designed by a two company committee. In terms of ease of implementation Alpha is a much simpler and streamlined design. And with equivalent semi technology the EV68 Alpha wipes up the floor with the merced IA-64 and is much compact too (roughly half the die size). Alpha can likely be licensed by AMD and design assistance, both official and unofficial, would flow in AMD's direction. Also, many of AMD's key designers are ex-Alpha designers. Contrast that with IA-64 where much of the ISA will be hidden in secret "Appendix H's" and the public information will not always correspond to Intel hardware. Intel tied up AMD in court on and off for a decade over x86. They will be happy do the same for IA-64 and will have the benefit of the legal lessons learned in the first war.
  • The Athlon needs a minimum of a 300W peak PSU

    Okay, I know that a CPU cannot possibly be drawing that much power. I imagine this specification is due to the fact that AMD expects the Athlon to be in big, hefty machines, with lots of drives, memory, etc. Throw your average (i.e., total crap) PC case at that, and yes, you'll undervolt.

    and midi/full towers tend be around 230-250W

    Maybe the ones you buy. :-) Even my personal machine, a full tower, has a 300W PSU.

    High power PSU's are pretty tricky to find as well.

    PC Power & Cooling [pcpowercooling.com]

    A/Open [aopen.com] (I have the HX-08 [aopen.com] case)
  • As of Oct 4 price cut Athlon 600s are going to be much cheaper than Intel 600s. Numerous reviews have showed that Athlon is 10 to 40 % faster than Intel's whimpy P3.

    Not to mention the fact that the P5-III/600 and 650 lines seem to be having heat and power problems due to Intel rushing them out the door to compete with Athlon.

    Reminds me of an old FidoNet tagline...

    Pentium = (P)arts (E)xist (N)ow (T)hough (I)nvariably (U)ndergo (M)eltdown
  • A year and a half later AMD losses are at an all time high,

    As already pointed out by someone else, the reason AMD had such a high loss this year is because they decided to build a brand-new fab with new technology to better compete with Intel. This is great move for their future, but they have to eat the cost right now.

    Intel took high losses before they took over the world, too.

    Now they announce the K8 when the K7 is barely ready for production.

    This is pure FUD. The Athlon has been in production for a couple of months now.

    Intel never makes the details of a processor public to the industry until it it ready for VOLUME production.

    Ummmm, hello? Merced is so late it is starting to make Windows 2000 look good. Intel has been raving about IA-64's features since when the Pentium Pro was hot. Originally, the SEC designs of the PII and PIII were slated for Merced, but it fell so far behind they decided the Pentium was worth it.

    Remember KNI? MMX? I seem to remember the popular trade press going on and on about how Intel's new instruction sets were going to blow everyone out of the water. Twice.

    This is the reason Intel is more successful than AMD.

    Ha! The reason Intel is more successful then AMD is quite simple. First, they were there first. Anyone who has been in this industry for more then a minute will tell you installed base is the second most important factor in the world. With market-share, you get market-share.

    This enabled them to have lots of money to pay for the most important factor in the world: Marketing. Thanks to "Intel Inside" and silver-suited disco dancers, the average consumer thinks that AMD is to Intel as the Yugo was to Lexus. Joe Consumer walks into Wal-Mart to buy a computer, is all set to go for the cheaper model, when he finds out it doesn't have Intel inside. "Hey! I don't want any of this A-M-whatever stuff, I want good, quality Intel Inside!"

    Finally, with Intel having a near monopoly on the processor market, they can lean hard on third-parties to try and restrict competition. They're more subtle about it then Microsoft, but we have seen it plenty of times.

    Where do you get this stuff? Do you work for Intel or something? Given your handle I would expect a bias for DEC, maybe, but Intel?

  • A few places have motherboards, I've seen online
    shops selling FIC, Gigabyte, and MSI boards. However I've heard there is a bug in the AMD-750 chipset and that these boards will be recalled shortly. Personally I'd wait for the ASUS board anyway.
  • okay....

    I think you're missing out on something. Sure, the new board/chip may take more power than a comparable k6-2/3 system, but if you're taxing the system too much take something out. For instance, my main machine only has 2 drives and a cd-rom drive (as well as sound card, ethernet, and voodoo3) -- if you've got a decked out system, you may need a bigger power supply, but I've yet to see a motherboard that takes more power than 50 watts or so.... jeeesh...

    heck, even the compaq 166's here at work (cheap, dear god cheap) have only 110watt power supplies, and they run fine.... (not that the power supplies are good quality....)

  • The K8 will most likely be a 64-bit Athlon Ultra that may or may run on a Slot-B configuration. 64-bit capabilities on an Athlon would be nice, but since there aren't very many 64-bit operating systems out there, and even less software packages to accompany those, a 64-bit CPU isn't all that wonderful at this current time--give it about 3-4 years before a 64-bit CPU might start to look appealing for home use. But the K8 will be analogous to Intel's Xeon processor as was the Pentium Pro--it's a server chip, not one for your home CPU. -JGene
  • Seems to me that they only have eyes for Merced and not the end user. They definetely need a good marketing strategy, out of 23 people in my Data Comm class three had _heard_ of AMD, only one was informed enough to know that it was a better chip.

    It's a sad fact that in this game it's rarely the superior technology that wins, just look at Microsoft.

    People are starting to come around as regards to software, but not many 'lay' people understand the difference between RISC and CISC etc.

    Saying that, I guess good marketing is the key, not education.
  • The Merced has always been thought of by Intel as a way for them to transition into the 64bit RISC market while still keeping the 32bit CISC market open. The McKinely will be the real ass-kicker, while Merced is more of a warm-up bout. I've heard rumours about Intel not even actually producing the Merced and skipping right to the McKinely because everyone who currently uses the IA-32 is well on their way to porting their stuff to IA-64 which would mean backwards compatibility would be awaste of core space. I think skipping Merced would be more beneficial to them than releasing it them a year later come outwith the McKinely. Sure AMD might be able to kick Intel's ass with the K7 for now Intel could easily pop out the McKinely and leave AMD waaaay behind since the K8 wouldn't be ready for production any time close to when Intel could release McKinely.
  • the word for roman is
    romana, -ae

    And if memory serves, Romans go home can be said many diffrent ways, and, mainly, it depends on whos home their going to, if it was their own homes, it would be

    romanae ii domuum

    ofcorse, i barly remember latin, and was so lazy that i only looked up 4th declension

    anyway, back to the chip, err, start
    anyway, they schould, lets just all hope their k8 chip dosent need to be in a 32bit emulation mode to run 32 bit proggies
  • ouch tough moderation, where are all those great meta-moderators i heard about? How is that off-topic? Now THIS is offtopic. Let's just insert something so it's not and so i don't lose any MORE karma... Does anyone have any information as to the theoretical limits of such a monster processor? When will it be available for my house? How much will it cost?

    Patrick Barrett

  • His comment was not flamebait.
  • What would be the point of that, though? No existing x86 software would be able to use the 64-bit x86 extensions, and no Intel chip supports them, so there is no compatibility gain with using a 64-bit x86 ISA. What would *really* be nice would be a chip that uses the Alpha architecture with some extensions to help out translation of x86 code, such as condition codes and sub-longword operations.
  • This is just pure speculation, but if the K8 is going to be a 64bit chip it'll need a new instruction set

    Why? It could just extend the x86 instruction set to 64 bits

    Which amounts to, in effect, a new instruction set, in that it adds new instructions, or a new 64-bit mode.

    That would require people to write or compile their code for 64-bit x86 in order for it to be useful; I'm not sure whether how much interest there'd be in Yet Another New Instruction Set whose name doesn't begin with "IA-".

    a 64-bit x86-optimized chip would outperform anything else running x86 software.

    But if the chip never runs any of the new instructions (or, if it's done with a mode bit, never runs in the new mode), what does the extension of the instruction set buy you?

  • However, if AMD wants to clone IA-64, they would have to start by basically cloning PA-RISC and adding the same extentions to that architecture as Intel is.

    IA-64 is not PA-RISC 2.0 plus some stuff added on; some aspects of it may be inspired by PA-RISC, but PA-RISC didn't, last I looked, have 128-bit bundles containing 3 instructions plus template bits.

    As such, it's not clear to what extent AMD, were they to try to create an IA-64 implementation, would benefit from first doing a PA-RISC implementation, rather than just going straight to IA-64.

  • Contrast that with IA-64 where much of the ISA will be hidden in secret "Appendix H's"

    And your evidence that this will be the case, rather than that just being a possibility (Intel has, of course, done that in the past), being?

    (No, the fact that they currently aren't documenting the stuff needed to do an OS kernel doesn't count; I think they've said that All Will Be Revealed, at least to the extent that the source to ports like the Linux port will be available, by the time they ship.)

  • I've yet to see a motherboard that takes more power than 50 watts or so.... jeeesh...

    Assuming you mean mobo+chip... My 164SX board with a 533 MHz 21164PC draws 90 watts. Of course, you probably meant PC motherboards. :-)

  • I thought the IBM finding of "copper in chips" was actually being able to get silicon and copper to mix together - which hasn't been possible before.
  • The problem that AMD faces right now is marketing. They have garnered the interest of the public and have proven that the K7 is as good, and in many cases, better than the P3. But if the product isn't actually available, they won't make the sales. Currently, there aren't too many motherboards manufacturers making Athlon boards, particularly since the large earthquake in Taiwan has disrupted the motherboard supply. When those manufacturers have to decide between appeasing Intel's request for more boards to be created for their Pentium line or AMD's request to support their new, unproven product, which way do you think that they are going to direct their efforts? And who is going to buy a CPU that can't be used because they cannot get a motherboard for it, particularly when considering the OEMs who need them in quantity to stock their customers' stores?

    I would very much like to see what AMD can accomplish in the 64 bit processor market, but I'm not going to hold my breath on a release until I see the Athlon make some real strides in the marketplace.

  • everything about the K8 architechture there is
    just 100% rumor and speculation.
    Somebody thinks "64bits is better than 32 bits,
    intel is desgning 64 bit chip (merced),
    so of cource AMDs next chip should also be 64bit.
    But this has nothing to do with reality. the register said this same hoax first, when they understood they were wrong, they posted "amd has changed their k8 architechture...". But too many people read the hoax, and didn't read the "correction"
    extending x86 to 64 bits - nonsense.
    noone would support it, and the lack of registers, not the size, is the major problem.
    When AMD does the announcement, We'll all see, that it's just a nother normal (3/x)86 processor. The futrher the rumors get before that, the more false information is on the move.
  • Does one need supportive evidence to predict that a duck will quack rather than bark?

    For starters Intel has gone to unusual lengths to delay filing IA-64 patents as long as possible and when they did file it was often under shell companies like Idea Corp. (Cupertino Ca) to further hinder disclosure of IA-64 features. Also the IA-64 design team includes lawyers specializing in IP (MPR, look it up yourself)

    This does not suggest that Intel is in any hurry to make IA-64 an open architecture. It does suggest that Intel is laying the groundwork for a tough legal offensive against anyone attempting to clone IA-64.

    Quack, quack.
  • by SEE ( 7681 )
    Well, to quote the Register [theregister.co.uk], "The K7 design worked out well and a K8 based on that can re-use x.86 compilers, thus bringing a product to market quicker than expected or usually feasible."

    And AMD has a history of extending the x86 instruction set. Remeber that they were the first to begin work on MMX instructions, and 3DNow is their baby.

    Finally, even Intel says Merced will not be as good as their future IA-32 chips at running x86 instructions.

    So, an AMD K8 that simply extends x86 to 64-bit is:
    1. Consistent with what AMD is rumored to be doing
    2. Consistent with AMD actions in the past
    3. Produces a chip that will probably outperfom Merced on IA-32 operations
    4. Requires minimal re-engineering of support software like compilers, making acceptance easier
    5. Does not require the massive resources cloning IA-64 would
    6. Does not require the licensing or cloning of anybody ele's design
    7. Maintains the current engineering investment in the RISC86 (Nx586/K6/K7) design
  • So, an AMD K8 that simply extends x86 to 64-bit ... Requires minimal re-engineering of support software like compilers

    It requires more support software than just compilers.

    It also requires operating system support, and could require application vendors to port their software to it - this might mainly just be a recompile, but it's still another platform they have to support.

    Maybe they're doing that, but it's hardly a trivial task from the software standpoint; I've no idea which OS suppliers (the free UNIX-flavored OSes, perhaps, but what about Microsoft, Sun, SCO, etc.?), compiler suppliers (GCC, perhaps), and other software suppliers (e.g., Oracle) will be willing to back them.

  • Does one need supportive evidence to predict that a duck will quack rather than bark?

    Intel have quacked and barked in the past; they may be more likely to quack than bark, but that doesn't prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they will.

    I don't think Intel has any plans to make it easy for anybody other than themselves or HP to build IA-64 implementations; I have no reason to believe that this necessarily means that they'll keep stuff secret forever - I suspect they'll make heavy use of patents, instead.

  • by SEE ( 7681 )
    It requires more support software than just compilers.

    Really? I thought all you needed for a new viable platform was a compiler!

    Last I checked, it *was* trivial getting protected-mode 16-bit 286 programs, even operating systems, to run on 32-bit 486es, even without emulators or access to the source code or compilers. Why? Because the 486 supports the 286's instruction set.

    If, as the Register states in the article I linked to, the K8 is going to be a re-engineered K7, why in the world would they break its support for the IA-32 instruction set? So, like the 486 in 1992, the K8 would be the fastest x86 available and support all the old x86 programs. Now, it would additionally have support for an extended 64-bit mode. Like the 486, the additonal bits aren't the primary selling feature -- the selling point is speed and backwards compatibility.

    And Linux, already with a single codebase supporting several 64-bit processors in addition to IA-32, would be a natural candidate for a K8-64 port, and it's a major OS for the kind of inexpensive servers the K8 would likely be found in initially. This at least gives the K8-64 a potential future...
  • If, as the Register states in the article I linked to, the K8 is going to be a re-engineered K7, why in the world would they break its support for the IA-32 instruction set?

    I have no reason to believe they would. (If you thought I did, you read more into what I said than I put there....)

    Like the 486,

    (Or the 386....)

    the additonal bits aren't the primary selling feature

    The additional bits in the 386 weren't the primary selling feature for 16-bit OSes. If there's never a 64-bit OS for x86-64, they might as well just do a really fast implementation of boring old 32-bit x86.

    So the only thing that'd make a 64-bit version of the x86 instruction set worthwhile would be, err, umm, an OS that supports the 64-bit mode, and compilers to generate 64-bit code - and, for at least some applications, probably other 64-bit software, e.g. 64-bit database software.

    And Linux, already with a single codebase supporting several 64-bit processors in addition to IA-32, would be a natural candidate for a K8-64 port, and it's a major OS for the kind of inexpensive servers the K8 would likely be found in initially.

    Maybe a 64-bit Linux port, say, would give its 64-bit mode a use; however, I'm not sure "inexpensive servers" would need a processor with a 64-bit virtual address space (they might want a processor and OS that supports more than 32 bits of physical address, but you can get such an x86 processor from Intel and, presumably, AMD now; I'm not sure what OSes support it - allegedly, W2K will, and I assume Sequent's Dynix/PTX supports it, albeit probably only on Sequent's big NUMA machines.

  • by Myself ( 57572 )
    Then what does J&J Patient Care rename their lubricating jelly to?

    I have a novel idea: It's an electronic component, right? Let's give it an electronic-style part number. Since it's compatible with the 8086 processor, let's call it something like the 80986 or the 81086 shall we?

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal