We previously discussed that AMDs goal was to allow for a direct upgrade path for AMD users, so this is a question that is on every K6-2 owners mind: Will the K6-3 work on my motherboard?
First of all, upon installing the K6-3, the L2 cache on your motherboard no longer functions as L2 cache, it is bumped down a notch to Level 3 cache, without any modifications to your motherboard itself. From a performance perspective, the presence of the L3 cache improves performance by around 5% in comparison to a K6-3 system without any L3 cache.
At this years Fall Comdex, AMD told AnandTech that in order for a motherboard to work with the K6-3, the only requirement would be that it supports the K6-2 400, and has the latest BIOS updates installed. After a skeptical acceptation of that statement, AnandTech finally got the opportunity to try the K6-3 out on a Super7 motherboard with support for the K6-2 400. Who wouldve guessed, AMD was right, the K6-3 was detected as a K6-3 running at 450MHz on the FIC PA-2013 AnandTech used in the tests without a single problem.
As long as you have a Super7 compliant motherboard, with BIOS support for the K6-2 400, you now have a guaranteed upgrade path to the K6-3, without spending a penny outside of the cost of the new processor. AMD has stretched out the life of the Socket-7 standard to a level once thought unattainable, it really makes you question whether we needed to make the transition to a slot based architecture back in 1997
3DNow! 6 Months Later
Around 6 months ago, AMD first introduced the K6-2 with their new 3DNow! instructions designed to improve 3D gaming performance. At the introduction, the only question that remained after seeing the 60+ fps in Quake 2 on a K6-2 333 was whether or not support for 3DNow! would really begin to appear in games. Since then, there have been numerous title releases with 3DNow! support built into the engine, and you can expect virtually every game based on the Quake 2, or Unreal engines to ship with some support for 3DNow! regardless of how minute. Unfortunately, whats becoming apparent is that most game developers dont seem to be taking 3DNow! seriously enough, which is why the K6-2 still trails the Pentium II & Celeron A in performance in some games such as Half-Life. You can expect support for 3DNow! to grow even more, however it is doubtful that 3DNow! will gain the support needed for all games to perform like the 3DNow! version of Quake 2 does on a K6-2 system.
Luckily, with the increased clock speeds of the K6-3, the gaming performance gap between AMD and Intel is closing in on itself as youll be able to tell from the gaming performance benchmarks AnandTech ran in Quake 2, which offers an excellent example of what proper 3DNow! implementation can really do on a 3DNow! capable processor, and Unreal, which demonstrates a more realistic implementation of 3DNow! from a performance perspective.
It is more than obvious that Intels MMX instructions have done very little for the hardware world in terms of performance, and as a redemption tactic Intel will be introducing the follow-up to MMX with their next Pentium II processor. The debate surrounding 3DNow! vs Intels new MMX instructions (often referred to unofficially as Katmai New Instructions - KNI) will continue to develop as the release of Intels Katmai grows closer, for now, there is really nothing to be said on the 3DNow! vs Katmai issue other than, wait and see, there is no real way of accurately predicting the effectiveness of KNI or how well 3DNow! will compare. Making a decision now would be purely speculation.