K6-III FP performance?
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Dear CPU Scorekeeper

I was told by a usually reliable source that AMD has improved the FP performance in the the K6 III line. I don't see how this is possible without changing the entire K6 category. I also haven't seen anything in the tech news about it.

Is there there something to this?

- - Michael, June 1999

See the questionCPU Scorekeeper Responds

The floating-point execution speed of AMD's K6-III line is not inherently faster than that of the K6-2. The main performance improvement in the K6-III is achieved through the incorporation of an on-chip, full-speed CPU cache.

Most processors use at least two levels of CPU cache memory to improve their execution speed: 'level 1' (L1) storage built into the chip and 'level 2' (L2) storage that normally resides within the supporting chip set on the motherboard. L1 cache runs at the same speed as the CPU, but is costly and thus small. Both K6-2's and K6-III's have 64kB of L1 cache. The L2 cache in the K6-2 series is built to run only at the speed of the system bus (either 66MHz or 100MHz, depending on the system). In the K6-III, 256kB of L2 cache is brought right into the CPU and can operate at the full speed of the chip (currently up to 450MHz). The K6-III will also employ any cache storage in the chip set as a 'level 3' or L3 cache, hence their touted Tri-Level Cache design.

The speed improvement can be quite dramatic (check our CPU Comparator to see the difference). However, the performance increase applies equally to both integer and floating-point operations. AMD provided a real floating-point improvement with their Athlon design.

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