AMD Extending x86 Instruction Set

Advanced Micro Devices plans to extend the x86 instruction set, with an announcement scheduled for Aug. 30, a company spokeswoman confirmed Friday. Details of the announcement were not available at press time. Roughly one-half to one full generation behind Intel in terms of manufacturing expertise, AMD seems to have hearkened back to its time-tested strategy […]

Advanced Micro Devices plans to extend the x86 instruction set, with an announcement scheduled for Aug. 30, a company spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Details of the announcement were not available at press time.

Roughly one-half to one full generation behind Intel in terms of manufacturing expertise, AMD seems to have hearkened back to its time-tested strategy of improving the technology of its chips as a means of improving performance.

"Developed to improve the performance of the highest intensity applications, the instructions help the developer community get greater performance out of each instruction by introducing functionality found only in specialized, high-performance architectures," said an AMD spokeswoman, describing the new initiative.

The actual X86 instruction set extensions are a logical followon to what AMD calls the Extensions for Software Parallelism initiative, designed to optimize programming for multicore chips. The first part of that has been known as the Lightweight Profiling Proposal, which was unveiled on Aug. 16. That proposal also pushes forward new X86 instructions, in a way; the new instructions are designed for developers, as a way to optimize their own code, and not for shipping in commercial software programs. That code would be accompanied by a dedicated block of onboard logic, although it's not clear what form that would take.

"Last week, AMD announced the availability of an early specification describing Light-Weight Profiling, a technology supporting the recently introduced Hardware Extensions for Software Parallelism initiative," the AMD spokeswoman said. "That was something different, but closely related."

Historically, AMD has followed Intel's lead on adding new instructions, supporting the SSE, and SSE-2 instructions that Intel developed inside its own architectures. AMD also developed its own set of instructions, called 3DNow!

AMD plans to launch its "Barcelona" architecture on Sept. 10.

AMD, Barcelona, x86 Instruction Set

Source:→ ExtremeTech