CPU (December 2005)

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2005 AMD Computer Build

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How to Upgrade Your Computer’s Processor

The original Athlon core revision, code-named "K7", was available in speeds of to MHz at its introduction and was later sold at speeds up to MHz. AMD dramatically improved the floating-point unit from the K6 and put a large K level 1 cache on the chip. The resulting processor was the fastest x86 in the world.

Various different versions of the Athlon held this distinction continuously from August until January In the year of the K7's introduction AMD switched their manufacturing process to a more advanced aluminum 0.

Quad G5 CPU Temperature and Fan Speed readings

The first Athlon to be built using the new technology was the K75 codenamed "Pluto" for the MHz versions and "Orion" for the - MHz versions. Fabricated using AMD's 0. This is in contrast to the original Athlons that operated their L2 cache at a certain fraction of the core clock speed. As well as boosting performance, moving the cache on-die also allowed AMD to follow Intel's lead in moving from slot-based processors in favour of a socket form factor - in AMD's case, a pin format, named Socket A.

The last Athlon processors based on the Thunderbird core were released in the summer of , by which time speeds had reached 1. So, at this point, the scheduler contacts the timer system and indicates that the global time should be updated to the minimum of all the CPUs' local times, which would be 0. The timer system sees that there is a timer scheduled to go off at 0. But wait, isn't CPU 0's local time already way off in the future at 0. This means that the signal arrives much later that it should have 0.

How do we solve this problem? Well, we could have swapped the execution order, making the scheduler execute CPU 1 first. But in order to do that, we would have needed to predict the future once again. If the communication details between two CPUs are well-understood and follow strict rules, then it might be possible to make this sort of fine-grain scheduler tweaking work.

Up to now, however, there has not been a good case made for running out-of-order like this. And so the round-robin order remains fixed. Traditionally in MAME — in fact, even before I ever wrote the timer system and the scheduler — the way this sort of communication issue was resolved was to increase the interleave factor between CPUs. The interleave factor was a number that indicated how frequently the CPUs in MAME were configured to re-synchronize their execution times each video frame.

This was specified in terms of video frames originally because all timing in MAME was done relative to video frames before the timers existed.


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The interleave factor is specified globally in MAME's machine driver structure. It is implemented by computing how many times per second the synchronization is implied for example, an interleave of with a game that runs at 60Hz, would imply synchronizations per second , and simply setting a timer with a NULL callback to go off at that rate.


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No callback is needed because no action needs to be performed; rather, the mere existence of the timer firing at that rate effectively brings all CPU into sync at that frequency. Back to our example, let's say our game runs at a 60Hz frame rate, and we bump the interleave factor to This means that there will be a timer set to fire every 0.

So let's re-evaluate what happens and why the interleave improves things. Remember that the timer system figures out when the first timer is set to fire. Previously, our first timer was going to go off at 0. Taking 0. Let's say it comes back having executed cycles. That puts our local time at 0. Now we execute CPU 1 for its timeslice, which turns out to be 67 cycles with the new timer in place.

This ends the round robin, and the timer system is notified just as before. This time, however, CPU 0 receives the signal at 0. This is a big improvement over cycles, but it's still not perfect. By increasing the interleave we could make it even better if we wanted. In fact, the interleave factor effectively determines the worst case latency for a signal from one CPU to another.

Could we make it perfect? Well, actually, we could. If we set up a timer to run at a frequency of 2,, times per second the clock speed of the 2nd fastest CPU , then we would get as close as possible to perfect interleave. To set the interleave that high would require specifying an interleave of in the game's machine driver. Try it sometime. Things get very very slow.

This is because a context switch between two CPUs is not free, and when you try to set up a timer to run that frequently, you spend all your time context switching and very little time actually executing any code on the CPUs. The ideal solution to this is to detect when it is likely that CPU 1 needs to signal CPU 0, and temporarily boost the interleave so that, at least for a while, synchronization is guaranteed.

Term: CPU bit-ness

It takes two parameters. The first parameter is how frequently the timer should fire — note that it is not specified in terms of video frames, but rather as an absolute time. You can also pass 0 here, which causes the system to automatically pick the clock rate of the 2nd fastest CPU, which will give you ideal synchronization. The second parameter specifies how long, in seconds, you want to maintain this level of interleave.

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Generally, you don't want it on too long. Interleave boosting is used in these cases when the "slave" CPUs need to send some information back, and the master is sitting there waiting for a response. Keep in mind that none of these systems are perfect, yet they have been successfully used for many thousands of different platforms. In Part 4, I'll wrap this series up with a bit about spinning, yielding, and triggers.

Aaron 's Almanac What has that Aaron Giles character been up to? Next task was to figure out why Tenth Degree no longer worked. Intel introduced the Intel Pentium Pro in November The K5 was the first processor developed completely in-house by AMD. It also featured an on-die L2 cache. AMD introduced the Athlon processor series on June 23, The Athlon would be produced for the next six years in speeds ranging from MHz up to 2.

System Airflow and CPU Fan/Heatsink Orientation

The Duron was built on the same K7 architecture as the Athlon processor. Intel announces on August 28th that it will recall its 1. Users with these processors should contact their vendors for additional information about the recall. On January 3, , Intel released the 1. AMD announced a new branding scheme on October 9, Each higher model number will represent a higher clock speed.

Intel released the Celeron 1. Intel Pentium M was introduced in March AMD released the first single-core Opteron processors, with speeds of 1.

System Airflow and CPU Fan/Heatsink Orientation

AMD released the first Sempron processor on July 28, , with a 1. Intel released the Core 2 Duo processor E 4 M cache, 1. Intel released the Core 2 Quad processor Q 8 M cache, 2. Intel released the Core 2 Duo processor E 2 M cache, 1. Intel released the Core 2 Duo processor E 2 M cache, 2. Intel released the first of the Intel Atom series of processors, the Z5xx series, in April Intel released the Core 2 Duo processor E 3 M cache, 2.

Intel released the first Core i7 desktop processors in November the i, the i, and the i Extreme Edition.