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AMD retires 3DNow!

AMD retires 3DNow!

3DNow! - first introduced with the K6-2 - is finally being put out to pasture by AMD.

AMD has announced the end of an era with the news that future processors will no longer support the legacy 3DNow! instruction set.

According to TechConnect, the end is nigh with the technology due for retirement and not to be included in any future AMD processors - marking the end of a twelve-year run for the technology.

3DNow! - yes, as it was invented back in the 90s, the exclamation mark is part of its name - was an enhanced version of Intel's MMX (MultiMedia eXtensions) instruction set, developed by AMD back in 1998 to provide single instruction multiple data (SIMD) instructions in hardware for simple vector processing tasks.

First appearing in the AMD K6-2 series of processors, applications compiled with 3DNow! support could enjoy a speed boost of around two to four times on certain data manipulation tasks - usually related to graphics-intensive operations. As a result, both 3DNow! and Intel's rival MMX achieved a degree of popularity with games developers. AMD's technology helped to mask the poor floating point performance of the K6-2 series relative to Intel's rival Pentium II.

Since then, 3DNow! has been a feature of all AMD processors, but with AMD's support of SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions) and its later incarnations the technology has become somewhat redundant. Accordingly, AMD has decided to save silicon by removing it from its processor specifications for good.

The only portion of the technology to continue on into future processor designs - unless you count SSE as being an 'upgraded' 3DNow! - will be a pair of instructions originally developed for 3DNow!: PREFETCH and PREFETCHW.

Are you sad to see 3DNow! disappear, or just pleased that processor manufacturers are pruning older instructions from the set in order to prevent x86 from becoming too bloated? Can you remember scouring the shelves for games bearing the 3DNow! or MMX logo in order to make use of your shiny new hardware? Share your thoughts and nostalgic memories over in the forums.

12 Comments

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Omnituens 20th August 2010, 11:29 Quote
If an old game was hard coded to use this intruction set, will it no longer work?

I hate it when games are coded like that - DoW II springs to mind, you HAVE to have a page file or it just craps out :(
crazyceo 20th August 2010, 11:34 Quote
Isn't this just an evolutionary process by AMD and a replacement will be on the cards? I know it's speculation and if it did have something on the cards, it would have been "leaked" by the AMD pr machine already. Let's just hope they've changed their crappy practices and will be launching an alternative.

I remember MMX coming out. All the high street retailers got rid of all the hardware without MMX before Christmas and then released all the new gear in the following new year. I remember watchdog going nuts about it on BBC1.
Elledan 20th August 2010, 11:48 Quote
3DNow! was basically AMD's version of MMX. I haven't heard of anyone using it over SSE the last years, or at all during the past ten.

Everything seems to be about SSE and derived versions now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaming_SIMD_Extensions#Later_versions

3DNow Professional is the name used for the modern-day API, which has the feature set of SSE1 through 3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3DNow!

I guess since SSE and 3DNow were using the same functional units on the CPU anyway, it didn't appear to have any real relevance to AMD any longer.
runadumb 20th August 2010, 11:59 Quote
I didn't know 3Dnow was still around. Haven't heard anything about it in years. Ah man, this brings me back
thehippoz 20th August 2010, 12:52 Quote
yeah old school.. it worked well back in quake 2
Er-El 20th August 2010, 13:20 Quote
Just concentrate on SSE5, AMD.
Kúsař 20th August 2010, 13:30 Quote
AFAIK the last game engine which uses 3DNow is Id tech 4. Guys at Id software always did a good job of optimizing their games...
b5k 20th August 2010, 16:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kúsař
AFAIK the last game engine which uses 3DNow is Id tech 4. Guys at Id software always did a good job of optimizing their games...
No one optimizes for hardware like id Software optimize for hardware!
Narishma 20th August 2010, 16:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
If an old game was hard coded to use this intruction set, will it no longer work?

I don't think there's any such game. It would mean the game would only work on AMD processors and I don't think there's any developer stupid enough to do such a thing.
alwayssts 20th August 2010, 18:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
Just concentrate on compatibility with AVX, AMD.

Fixed.
iwod 21st August 2010, 04:14 Quote
That is nearly 100 instruction gone. I wonder how many transistors will it save.
SSE has 70, SSE2 has 144, SSE3 has 13. SSSE has 16, and SSE has 47. And with AVX we get another 100+

That is 390+ left.

Does that mean Bobcat wont have 3D Now and MMX? ( Great News )
Adnoctum 21st August 2010, 09:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
If an old game was hard coded to use this intruction set, will it no longer work?

Other sites are reporting that AMD is saying that any program that needs 3DNow! are still supported by the SSE extensions, so there will be no difference for the user.
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