AMD’S 3DNOW! INSTRUCTION set was never as big of a hit as Intel’s MMX or SSE and it now seems like AMD is getting ready to drop support, sorry, that’s deprecate support for 3DNow! This means that most new AMD processors will no longer have support for 3DNow! but judging by AMD’s blog post on the subject, it’s hardly going to have any effect on the performance of its future processors.
So is this a big deal? Well, most likely not, at least not for consumers and end users. It might be a hassle for some developers and for those that are running software that is specifically relying on the 3DNow! instructions of AMD’s processors. Then again, AMD is offering a work around by using SSE instructions instead that allows for 3DNow! code to be ported over to newer platforms.
AMD doesn’t specify which of its new processors that will lack the 12 year old instruction set, but we’d guess AMD is referring to its Fusion products, as future Phenom, Athlon and Sempron processors are unlikely to lose support out of the blue. It makes even more sense that this is the case as 3DNow! was developed to help boost the performance in 3D applications (ok, games) way back when 3D games were still a new thing and AMD had an inferior floating point unit compared to Intel.
Unlike some moves to kill off old technology this seems like a sensible move, even more so as AMD is likely to want all graphics related processing to happen in the GPU core of its Fusion processors, rather than in the CPU core. This is at least the idea in theory, but we’ll have to wait and see how well AMD pulls this one off as the company has yet to prove that it can compete with Nvidia when it comes to shuffling more general purpose computing tasks over to its GPU’s. With a bit of luck Fusion will change this and AMD will get a lot more support from the software vendors.S|A
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