Through 1999, Intel's competitors continued to use the Socket 7 design for CPU interface used in most Pentium CPUs. This meant that most competing CPUs used L2 caches on the motherboard rather than the CPU (the exception being AMD's K6-III), and these CPUs were limited to the 32-bit, 4GB memory address space of Pentiums. In terms of speed, though, some of these CPUs compete with CPUs through mid-range Pentium-IIIs. CPUs in this range include
• AMD K6 The K6 was based largely on designs developed by NexGen for the never-released Nx686. It includes MMX technology and approaches Pentium II speed when run at the same clock rate.
Some early K6 CPUs contained a bug that caused occasional unreliable operation. This bug isn't Linux-specific, but for various reasons it manifested itself frequently when using the GCC compiler, and it could cause Linux kernel compiles to fail sporadically, among other problems. If you have an early K6 CPU, therefore, you might want to replace it rather than run Linux on it.
• AMD K6-2 and K6-III The K6-2 and K6-III are faster versions of the K6 CPU. They both run at faster clock rates and include changes to improve performance when the CPUs are run at the same clock rate.
• Cyrix MII The MII is basically a 6x86 run at a higher clock rate. The MII also incorporates MMX instructions. I include the MII CPU here rather than in the Pentium section mainly because it can run at faster clock rates than Intel's Pentium.
• Transmeta Crusoe Transmeta (http://www.transmeta.com) is the latest entrant in the x86 CPU sweepstakes. The Crusoe is distinguished by its low voltage requirements, which makes it well-suited for use in portable devices such as laptop and palmtop computers.
In addition to these CPUs that run in Socket 7 motherboards, AMD in 1999 introduced the Athlon, which uses a slot connector similar to (but incompatible with) the one used by Pentium-II and Pentium-III CPUs. The Athlon includes many advanced features, and competes directly against Pentium-III systems. In fact, in late 1999 and early 2000, the fastest x86 computers available were powered by Athlon CPUs. Like Intel's post-Pentium x86 CPUs, the Athlon includes an L2 cache on the CPU module and uses 36-bit memory addresses.
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