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  • RageMage's Hardware/Software/Programming/games/and more...
    Welcome Visitor #
    Introduction CPU Manufacturers
    CPU Reviews Back to home page
    The CPU PAGE
           For those of you who dont know what the CPU is. This brief section is for you. CPU stands for Central Processing Unit , and basically that is what it is. The CPU executes your program , preforms your computations and calculations and costs you anywhere from 80-1000$. The CPU can be thaught of as the brain of you computer, even though it doesnt really think. There are many CPU's on the market and chosing a CPU is a difficult task. Before i get in to chosing a CPU , read the next section on CPU manufacterers. (PC chips only) 
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    The CPU makers
    Who makes CPUS?
        I will discuss the three major PC compatible manufacters in this section. The main three are INTEL , AMD , and CYRIX. 

    AMD -  AMD , or Advanced Micro Devices have been making PC compatible chips since the 70s with the 8088 clone. Who cares about the 8088? Lets get on to the good (and bad) stuff. AMD has not been a major threat to intel with their 8088 and their 80386 and 80486 clones , since these were exact copies of the Intel chip. However , When AMD released their K5 , things began to change. The K5 is AMD's first true Pentium clone. It sits on a Socket-7 motherboard (check out motherboard reviews for info on what this is) and could had similar features to the pentium. AMD released a first group of K5's running at 75,90,and 100 mhz. These chips were named the AMD k5-pr75,pr90,and pr100. Unfortunately , these chips did not preform as well as expeceted so AMD released their second version of the k5. These where named the k5pr100,k5pr120,and k5pr133. These chips ran at the same clock speeds as the pr75,90,and 100 , however , they were supposed to preform as well as a 100mhz Intel Pentium , 120mhz , and 133mhz respectively. Thus the PR denotes the P-rating (A lame marketing ploy in my mind) which is supposed to denote how fast the chip runs in comparion to intel. For example a chip with a pr150 rating may run at 66mhz but is supposed to preform as fast as an intel pentium running at 150. Get it? Later on , AMD released their final k5 , the pr166. This chip was said to preform as fast as the Intel P166 or even faster , while running at a clock speed of only 116.5mhz! Wow! you may be saying , but even though AMD managed to outpreform a 166mhz Intel chip with a 116.5mhz chip that cost much less , the K5 had its own set of problems. First of all , the K5 runs execptionally hot , which is one of the reasons AMD couldnt get their chip past the 120mhz range. Also , it had a poor FPU (floating-point-unit) Something that the Prating doesnt take into consideration. (or else every AMD & CYRIX chip would be rated pr90). Nevertheless , AMD fixed most of these problems (except for the FPU) in their big hit , the AMD k6. The k6 was AMD's answer to the Intel Pentium w/MMX. The chip runs on 166,200,and 233mhz and boasting a 64K L1 cache , double that of the Pw/MMX and 4x that of the Pentium Classic. With a 266mhz version coming out soon. The 166 and 200 versions of this chip managed to outpreform their Intel counterparts in most common applications , especially business. However they lagged behind slightly in 3d , CAD , and other CPU-intensive programs. The 233 however , was not much of a success when compared to the Intel P w/MMX 233mhz. For some reason , the 233mhz Intel chip seemed to outpreform the K6-233 significantly in many areas where the lower speed k6's preformed very well against the Intel chip. This is still a mystery to me... Anyway , thats about it for AMD. Now on to CYRIX. 

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    CYRIX-  Cyrix corp. Cyrix has been making chips since their the early 90s or late 80s , i forget exactly(ill get you the dates soon). There first true Intel challenger chip was the 6x86. (Not to be confused with a Pentium Pro clone , as the name suggests (another marketing ploy i really hate) This chip sits on a socket 7 and is a pentium clone. The 6x86 came out in many flavors. The slowest being the 6x86-PR90 , which ran at 80mhz (You wont find this chip around much because many motherboards dont support it , Cyrix has no information on it either , but it exists) The PR120 , which runs at 100mhz , the PR133 , which runs at 110mhz , the PR150 , which runs at 120mhz , the PR166 (runs at 133) and the PR200 (which runs at 150mhz with a 75MHZ bus speed. The top official speed prior to this was 66mhz , so this is one big thing about the cyrix chip , except for the fact that i have this chip) The cyrix chip , like the k5 boasted Pentium equivalent preformance at a slower clock rate. However , like the k5 , this chip uses lots of power and overheats easily , plus its FPU is simply pathetic (my pr200's FPU is the equivalent to that of my Intel P90mhz). In order to remedy the first problem , Cyrix released the 6x86L , which uses less voltage than the original 6x86 , thus reducing the heating problems significantly. They still havent fixed the FPU problems , even not in their new 6x86mx... The New 6x86mx was Cyrix responce to the battle between the k6 and the Pw/MMX. The chip came out in three speeds , the PR166(133mhz) the PR200(150mhz using 75mhz bus or 166 using the traditional 66mhz bus) and the PR233( running at 187.5 using the 75mhz bus or 200 using the 66mhz bus) These chips have AMAZING business preformance but fall behind in high end CAD and graphic programs due to their weak FPU and slow MMX. The chips have less problems with overheating but because the 64k L1 cache (yes the 6x68mx also has 64k) is unified , meaning that the CPU decides how to split it up between read and write , there can be inbalance between the read and write operations causing some instability , even though generally , this unified cache will increase the 6x86mx's preformance. 
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    INTEL -  INTEL corp , the biggie. These guys started it all. Right now they have 4 competitive chips on the market , the Intel pentium classic , the Pentium w/MMX , the Pentium Pro , and the Pentium II , or a Pentium Pro w/MMX and 32K L1 cache. All these Intel chips have some common properties , including excellent FPU preformance , great  high-end and game preformance , and excellent stability. The Pentium Classic , Intels first chip of the Pentium family , brought the PC to the 64bit level with its 64bit address bus. It also added many features such as super pipelined architecture and excellent branch prediction. The Pentium Classic comes in many different shapes and sizes ( you know what i mean) There is the P60&P66(the number is mhz for Intel chips , no Prating) which were what i like to call the "beta" versions. They ran on a different motherboard than the rest of the Pentiums do and they used a different voltage. These chips are largely obsolete. The next generation of Pentiums range in speeds from 75-200mhz. (75/90/100/120/133/150/166/180/200) These chips would be the basis of all the future chips to come. Next chip to come was the Pentium Pro. Introduced in 1995 , this was basically a Pentium with enhanced branch prediction L2 cache ON-CHIP running at CLOCK speed (unlike other chips' cache which runs at BUS speed) This chip ranged in speed from 150-200 (120&133"beta" versions) and is still one of the fastest CPU's on the market. Pentium w/MMX. This is a Pentium with 32K L1 cache , a slightly new design and new 57 MMX instructions (Multi Media eXtensions). This chip came out in 166/200/233mhz version and we will soon see the 0.25micron version of the p w/MMX , codenamed 'Tillamook' (whatever the hell that is) running at 266mhz. On to the Pentium II w/MMX. Basically take the Penium w/MMX and replace it with Penium Pro and you get the Pentium II. This chip doubled the Pentium Pro's cache  from 16K to 32K , and added the MMX instructions as well. This chip is currently available in 233/266/300mhz versions and a 333 will be coming out very soon. The one problem with this chip is that the cache was moved out of the CPU and onto a card , only running at 1/2 clock speed (still faster than the competition). This is why a PPro200mhz w/512K cache can outpreform a PII w/MMX running at 200. All in all , every one of these chips is excellent in all aspects. I would only recommend buying a non-Intel chip if money is an important issue , because these chips are more expensive (thats because they are better... you get what you pay for (usually)). 
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    Well , thats it for the manufacterers , I might add info later , but for now , this is it. ( I wanna get this page up and FAST!) 

    CPU Reviews

    AMD K6 
    Cyrix 6x86 
    Cyrix 6x86MX 
    Intel Pentium w/MMX 
    Intel Pentium Pro 
    Intel Pentium II  
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    THE AMD K6: On April 2nd , 1997 , AMD released their ultimate chip , the AMD K6. Running at clock speeds of up to 233mhz and with a whopping 64k L1 cache this chip was actually the TOP chip for a month , until INTEL released it's killer Pentium II. Even with the Pentium II around , this 8,8 million transistor monster is still one of the best CPU's around. With full MMX compatiblity and the best branch prediction , the AMD k6 is one of the best , if not the BEST all around Socket 7 chip. 

    Here are some brief specs of the chip , i will add more detailed stuff later. 

    CPU type: Socket 7 
    SPEEDS: 166/200/233mhz 
    BUS: 66mhz 
    Transistors: 8.8million 

    Thats it for now! 

    The Amd k6 gives you great Business preformance , excellent compatibility with INTEL and excellent overall preformance for an excellent price. 

    The AMD k6 has few weaknesses. One of these is it's preformance in high end 3D CAD , games (actually not so bad in games) and pure MMX. Though the chip is still fast in these areas , it is outpreformed by the intel chip , and now , with intel cutting prices , if you are interested in high-end intense programs such as CAD , you should go with the intel. Another thing that concerns me with the K6 is it's overpriced 233mhz version. Mostly because it is high in demand. Many vendors may charge more for a K6/233 than an Intel 233mhz version , which isn't how it was meant to be (at least i hope not) 

    Overall , the K6 is a great deal , for any purpose. With it's excellent overall preformance , this chip is definetly worth looking at. 

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    THE CYRIX 6x86: Cyrix realized that their 5x86 (Pentium for a 486 MB) wasn't up to par w/ the newer faster Pentium's and the Pentium Pro , Cyrix released their first 'biggie' in 1996. The Cyrix 6x86. At first , the 6x86 suffered from many flaws including a weak FPU and extreme heating problems. The latter was fixed (somewhat) however , the weak FPU is still haunting Cyrix. Other than it's weak FPU , the 6x86 is an excellent chip ( I own one). It has amazing business preformance compared to the Pentium and the AMD k5 (reviews coming soon) , an excellent price ,  plus it is the first chip to utilize a 75mhz bus speed! (The 6x86pr200 (150mhz only , what i have!) This new bus speed added new oportunities for the overclocker. Because of its excellent business preformance , the 6x86 is a great choice for the budget minded PC buyer. However , if gaming and high-end CAD is your main purpose , the 6x86 is not a good choice. 

    CPU type: Socket 7 
    SPEEDS: PR90-200 , 80mhz/100mhz/110mhz/120mhz/133mhz/150mhz 
    BUS: anywhere from a pathetic 40mhz (PR90) to a whopping 75!(PR200) 

    Excellent overall business preformance with an even more excellent price. Nowadays you can probably get a PR200+ for under 70$! 

    Weak FPU (make that EXTREMELY weak , runs as fast as my INTEL P90mhzs FPU) Not that great for high-end and gaming uses. Also this chip isn't that great for overclockers becuase it only supports a multiplier of either 2x or 3x , no 2.5x. 

    If you are the average PC user who is mostly interested in word , excel , business programs and surfing the net , the 6x86 is all you'll need. However  , if you are interested in high-end CAD and games (especially quake , dont ask me why , in my opinion the game sucks) then I would stay away from Cyrix. (Unless you have a monster 3D or some pretty damn good 3D acceleration) 

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    THE CYRIX 6x86MX: By the time Cyrix had began marketing their 6x86 successfully , Intel had already began selling their new Pentium w/MMX and AMD was working on their K6. In order to keep up with the competition , Cyrix announced their new 6x86MX. This chip , released in 1997 was a little late , however , for the budget concerned user , it was worth it! Like it's predecessor , Cyrix employed the Prating on this chip. They came out with 3 flavors , PR166 , PR200 , and PR233. What is interesting about these chips is that 2 PR200's for example would run at different clock speeds. (either 2.5x66 or 2x75 , 2.5x66 being significantly faster ... an interesting note about cyrix chips is that a slower bus doesn't seem to cripple the chip. My 6x86 OCed to 180mhz (3x60) runs noticeably faster than the 2x75 version. However , still not as fast as 75x3 (my record OC). This  chip had many improvements over the original 6x86 , the major one was its 64k unified cache. Unified makes the chip faster , because it can split it up for read and write at will , however , it can cause inconsistencies between read/write operations causing the chip to be slightly unstable , however , the unified cache is more of an advantage than a drawback. Also , the 6x86 added MMX compatible instructions (slow , but they are there) There were many other improvements other than this which made this chip more of a 6th generation chip than its older brother the 6x86 standard. Like it's fellow 6x86 , the 6x86MX suffered the same problems and had the same advantages , namely being Excellent business , and poor FPU/gaming/CAD. 

    CPU type: Socket 7 
    SPEEDS: PR166-233 , 166 = 2x66 , 200=2x75or2.5x66  , 233 = 2.5x75 or 3x66. 
    BUS: anywhere from a 66(166,200,233) to  75!(PR233 or PR200) 

    Excellent overall business preformance with an even more excellent price. You can purchase a PR166 for under 100$!! 

    Weak FPU , Weak CAD , and slow MMX. Not a good gaming system. 

    If you are the average PC user who is mostly interested in word , excel , business programs and surfing the net and want MMX technology , the 6x86MX is all you'll need. However  , if you are interested in high-end CAD and games (especially quake , dont ask me why , in my opinion the game sucks) then I would stay away from Cyrix. (Unless you have a monster 3D or some pretty damn good 3D acceleration) 

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    THE INTEL Pentium W/MMX (P55C): Before the Pw/MMX,  Intel only had the Pentium and Pentium Pro chips. At the time (not that long ago , and still now) computer shoppers were(are) more interested in gaming , multimedia , video , and the upcoming DVD. These users did not want to shell out 500-1000$ on a Pentium Pro , and the Pentium Classic wasn't good enough for them. To amend this problem , Intel released the Pentium w/MMX. (MMX stands for MultiMediaExtensions as far as I know , Anand's Tech Page says it used to mean MatrixMathExtensions , but Intel denies it stands for anything) anyway , who cares? Basically , this was a set of 57 new instructions which would enhance the preformance of the Pentium in categories such as 3D , Video , Image Processing , etc... Along with these new intsructions , Intel took the time to enhance the core of the Pentium Classic as well , doubling the cache size to 32kB and improving apon it's branch prediction and other features. This is quickly becoming the 'norm' chip as the Pentium Classic , and alas , my 6x86 are slowly phasing out... Soon (very soon) we shall expect the Pentium II to be the norm , as intel is trying to steer everyone away from Socket 7 to give AMD and Cyrix a hard time. 

    CPU type: Socket 7 
    SPEEDS: 166,200,233mhz 
    BUS: 66mhz 

    Great CAD , excellent FPU , great overall chip , extremely reliable and VERY overclockable. 

    Slower business than K6 or 6x86MX , was costly , though now cost is becoming less of a problem 

    If you are a gamer and don't have the money for the PentiumII or Pentium Pro , the Pentium w/MMX is definately your CPU! With new MMX instructions and double the L1 cache of the Pentium Classic , the Pentium w/MMX gives you the fastest CAD and Gaming experience. Or even if your a normal user but want the ultimate in reliability , Intel is the way to go! However , if your an average user more interested in Netscape , EXCEL , and Ms Word , don't waste the extra money of getting an intel chip when the K6 and 6x86MX preform better and are less expensive. 

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    THE INTEL Pentium Pro: Introduced late 1995 , the Pentium Pro was Intel's entry into the server market. This chip provided the 16bit preformance of the Pentium combined with amazing full 32bit preformance and L2 cahce ON CHIP running at CLOCK SPEED!! This is one of the major factors , along with it's improved branch prediction and superscalar architecture , which gives the Pentium Pro its edge over the Pentium and the 5th (and some 6th) generation chips. Imagine , a chip built in 1995 still dominates in the latest 32bit OSes and apps! 

    CPU type: Socket 8 
    SPEEDS: 120,133 ('beta') 150,166,180,200 
    L2 CACHE: 256k or 512k ONCHIP! 
    BUS: 60-66mhz 

    Great CAD,FPU , as with all intel , ULTRA FAST DOS GAMING! , Amazing 32bit preformance. 

    Slow win95 and 16bit preformance. Expensive. Not a good investment , because it sits on a soon to be obsolete board. However , Pentium Pro Riser Cards are changing this. 

    If you want awesome Win NT and Linux preformance and don't have money for an Alpha chip , check out the Pentium Pro. However , if you use predominately Win95 , the Pentium Pro is not such a good choice , unless you are a pure gamer and avid CAD user. Also , beware of the price tag. A Pentium Pro w/512K cache costs around 1000$!! 

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    THE INTEL Pentium II: Now with MMX technology and the release of the K6 , Intel no longer had the fastest CPU. In order to change this , Intel released it's Pentium II. This was basically a Pentium Pro plus enhanced 16bit preformance , double the L1 cache , plus MMX technology and used a new type of packaging and requires a Slot 1 'CPUset'. The Pentium II was released in 3 flavors originally , 200mhz (though I have almost never seen a 200mhz PII) , 233 , and 266. Later in 1997 , the 300mhz was released and soon in Q1 1998 , the 333mhz version is due. Expect more from Intel as they make will be releasing the INTEL DESCHUTES (Pentium II code-name) in Q2 1998. (Check out Sneak Peek section for info on this CPU very very very soon! (most likely by the end of today) 

    CPU type: Slot 1 
    Bus Speeds: 66mhz 
    Speeds: 200 , 233 , 266 , 300 mhz 
    L2 : 512K 'on-card' running at 1/2 Clock speed 

    Currently the fastest CPU on the market , though the K6+-3D from AMD and the Cayenne from Cyrix are attempting to change this. (Info on those two in the Sneak Peek section) Ultimate NT preformance , Awesome gaming , ultra-fast FPU , extremely overclockable (though Intel is preventing overclocking via multiplier.) If you're looking for the fastest CPU on the market in EVERY application , the PII-300 is your best bet. 

    Price. Is it worth it? For plain business apps in Win95 , it isn't worth the money. 

    The PII (300mhz) is the fastest CPU on the market (exluding alpha and supercomputer ... you know what i mean...)  , the question is , how much are you willing to pay? For a non-gamer running Win95 , the PII is overkill , however , when it comes to gaming , CAD , and Windows NT or Linux , the Pentium II is the clear choice , even though it is priced higher than it's competition. 

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