AMD has steadily been gaining market share ever since the release of their Athlon last August, their Thunderbird last June and their Duron shortly thereafter. The company has come from a microprocessor manufacturer that focused on supplying processors for the value market segment to a manufacturer that is helping to drive the desktop market in both performance and value segments.

One of the main reasons that AMD's recent processor releases have been so successful is because, unlike their competition, primarily Intel, the K7 architecture and its derivatives are free from the numerous limitations that 5-year old P6 architecture imposes on Intel's current flagship, the Pentium III. By reading the above statement, you'd assume that the Athlon was all but demolishing the Pentium III in terms of performance. Well, it's not.

The beauty of the K7 architecture is that it is very scalable, especially when you consider the largely untapped (by AMD of course) high-end workstation/server market that demands multiprocessor solutions. So while the Pentium III and its accompanying P6 bus are performing just fine now, there is a definite need for a more powerful solution for Intel's future processors if they plan on holding their current market advantage.

Intel gave us a very pleasant surprise at the Spring 2000 Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in February: for the first time the Willamette's architecture was discussed in a decent amount of detail. However, Intel has remained fairly quiet about the Willamette until now.

In two days, Intel's annual Fall IDF will commence, and the big topic of the day will be the architecture upon which the Willamette, or Pentium 4, is based. We were given the go ahead by Intel to let you all in on the details of this new architecture today so you can get a head start on your IDF reading, which we will be providing later this week.

A lot of what we will be talking about in this article is a follow-up to our initial IDF coverage in our Intel IDF Report #1 and our IDF CPU Report articles that were published earlier this year.

Intel's NetBurst Micro-Architecture

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