Inside AMD's Hammer: the 64-bit architecture behind the Opteron and Athlon 64

@ 2005/02/02
In my architectural history of the Pentium line, I characterized the P6 architecture as crown jewel of Intel's x86 processor line. From its first incarnation as the Pentium Pro to its latest incarnation as the Pentium M, the P6 core has been an enormous success by both commerical and performance standards. Intel has the P6 core to thank for a large part of its market dominance over the past decade.

AMD owes a similar debt to the K7 core, the main architecture on which the company has staked its processor business since the launch of the Athlon line in 1999. Like the P6, the Athlon line — and the K7 architecture on which it is based — has been a commercial and performance success story. The K7 vaulted AMD to the top of the performance ladder, enabling the company to take the performance lead from Intel and to hang on to that lead for some significant stretches of time.

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