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PC World

Game developers rally behind the AMD-K6


A dozen designers update games for AMD's fast graphics chip.

February 17, 1999
Web posted at: 11:37 a.m. EST (1637 GMT)

by JoAnne Robb

(IDG) -- You don't need the Motley Fool to know a good return when you see it -- especially if you're a gamer.

Way back in the summer of 1998, you invested in an AMD-K6-2-based machine in hopes that soon software would support the nifty 3D graphics technology -- called 3Dnow -- that those AMD chips promised. Well, here's the payoff. This week, 12 game publishers and developers announced 3DNow-optimized titles for release this year.

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So if you plan to play games like id's Quake III Arena, GT Interactive's Duke Nukem Forever, or Eidos's TombRaider III on a machine that packs an AMD-K6-2, you should get faster and smoother performance than you'd otherwise see. That's because the 3DNow technology included on the K6 chip has 21 instructions that are designed to speed the way 3D graphics are processed.

Think of it this way: Every image you see as you shoot your way through a game exists because of a complex set of mathematical calculations performed by the CPU. The processor has to figure out stuff like the coordinates for each triangle on your screen or changes to the image based on lighting. With the 3DNow instructions, the CPU can do that math faster than before, so images should appear on your screen more quickly.

Of course, you have some other options if you're interested in speeding these games. Intel's Pentium III chip -- which is due to arrive in new machines at the end of this month -- also has a set of instructions to move 3D graphics quickly. The one big difference between the Intel and AMD options? The Pentium III chip will initially appear only in high-end machines that will cost a bundle. The AMD-K6-2 -- along with the AMD-K6-3 and the AMD-K7, which are both due out by the middle of this year -- will be in more moderately priced systems. In fact, the number of people who use an AMD chip with 3DNow technology is expected to outrank Intel PIII users for about another year, according to Linley Gwennap, editorial director of the industry newsletter MicroProcessor Report. And that's pretty good incentive for game manufacturers to continue to pump out entertainment that's optimized for the 3DNow instructions in AMD's chips.

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Can AMD's new K6-2 beat Intel's Pentium II?
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