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AMD Athlon (Thunderbird) Whitepaper
Date: Sunday June 04, 2000
Category: Press Release
Manufacturer Link: AMD Discus -- BBS
The AMD Athlon (Thunderbird) whitepapers include in depth technical information on the new processor.
200MHz System Bus

The Industry's First 200-MHz System Bus for x86 Platforms

The 200MHz AMD Athlon processor system bus-the fastest front-side bus implementation for x86 platforms-leverages the high-performance Alpha? EV6 system interface technology to significantly boost system performance and provide ample headroom for today's and tomorrow's applications. By licensing the Alpha? EV6 interface from Digital Equipment Corp., AMD has answered an industry challenge to deliver a reliable, high-speed system interface that offers unprecedented performance for x86 platforms without sacrificing legacy x86 compatibility.

The flexible AMD Athlon processor system bus provides advanced features, such as source synchronous clocking for high-speed 200 to 400 MHz operation, point-to-point topology for peak data bandwidth independent of the number of processors, packet-based transfers for maximum transaction pipelining, large 64-byte burst data transfers, ECC protection of data and instructions, low-voltage swing signaling for low-cost motherboard implementations, and the ability to address more than 8 terabytes of physical memory.

The 200MHz system bus implemented in the AMD Athlon processor is capable of delivering a peak data transfer rate of 1.6 Gbytes/sec-compared to only 1.06 Gbytes/sec of today's Intel's P6 bus. AMD's 200MHz system bus also provides 64-byte burst transfers, while the Intel P6 bus supports only 32-byte transfers. With its source synchronous clocking capability, the AMD Athlon processor's front-side bus is scalable to operate beyond 400 MHz. The Intel P6 bus uses a common clock, which is limited in operating frequency due to transport delay limits. With source synchronous clocking, the sender of the data also sends a clock so that the transport delay is negligible. AMD's advanced system bus technology, along with the Socket A or Slot A infrastructure, enables a cost-effective and scalable system superior to that of Slot 1/Slot 2-based systems. (See the "AMD Athlon Processor System Bus" white paper for more details.)Three out-of-order, superscalar, pipelined integer units


Table 2:  200-MHz AMD AthlonT Processor System Bus Advantages


AMD Seventh Generation

Intel Previous Generation


AMD AthlonT Processor (Socket/Slot A)

Pentiumr III Processor **(Slot 1)

 Number of pins



 Bus operating frequency

200 MHz - 400 MHz +

66 to 133 MHz

 Data bus width

64 bits

64 bits

 Data bus integrity

8-bit ECC

8-bit ECC

 Clock technology

Source synchronous


 Peak bandwidth

1.6 to 3.2 GB/s+

533MB/s to 1.06 GB/s


Yes, point-to-point

Yes, shared

 Max. system processors

Unlimited (by chipset)

Unlimited (by chipset)

 Dedicated snoop channel



 Cache Control Policy



 Outstanding transactions

24 per processor

4-8 per processor

 Machine check architecture



 Physical memory support

8 TB*

64 GB

 Burst transaction size

64 byte

32 byte

*The size of supported physical memory depends on the specific processor and chipset implementation.

** Includes estimates for the Intel 0.18-micron Pentium processor.

 The AMD Athlon processor system bus offers a significant advantage for multiprocessor systems: it is a high-frequency point-to-point bus, with no conflicting traffic, rather than a shared bus as used in the P6 bus architecture (see Table 2). Other advanced system features that enable the AMD Athlon processor system bus to deliver superior multiprocessor performance include a dedicated snoop port to reduce snoop traffic interruptions, large 64-byte cache line transfers (twice the size of Slot 1 or Slot 2 designs), MOESI cache control protocol, and 8-bit error ECC data integrity. By combining AMD's system bus and high-performance cache design, the AMD Athlon processor can manage transaction-based applications with ease and enable superior data throughput for data-intensive applications, such as video or web servers and transaction-based systems.

Ultimately, the AMD Athlon processor system bus gives system designers the flexibility to design a broad range of reliable, powerful x86 system platforms, from high-end desktop systems to uniprocessor and multiprocessor workstations and enterprise servers. When powered by the AMD Athlon processor, these platforms will be able take advantage of high-bandwidth peripherals, such as digital video, cable modems, ADSL, IEEE-1394, and Gigabit Ethernet, without limiting system performance.

Previous Next

Page 1: AMD Athlon (Thunderbird) Whitepaper
Page 2: Processor Architecture Diagram and Summary
Page 3: High Performance Cache Design
Page 5: Application Optimizations and Infrastructure
Page 6: Summary and AMD Overview

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   11 / 22 / 2019 | 10:01AM
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