MMX or Multi-Media-Extention is the latest technology from Intel for their computer processor chips and is now becoming available in some high quality, mid-priced computer systems. In this essay, I will discuss the technology and what it offers to the user, as well as, compare three high quality system packages from three of industries leading manufacturers. The systems discussed here are the Gateway 2000 P55C-200 FPC, the Packard Bell NEC Platinum 2240, and the Compaq Presario 4784; all of which contain the new Intel Pentium 200 MHz-MMX processor. MMX technology is more than an industry buzz word and is currently available in some well rounded, mid-priced system packages that are obtainable for most home users to take advantage of.
MMX technology is Intel's most recent processor enhancement, but what is it? How does it work? What does it mean as far as performance improvements? MMX technology is the first new chip architecture from Intel in ten years. From a technological standpoint, there are significant changes: MMX defines a set of 57 new computer instructions that extend the x86 instruction set of approximately 80; it has 32 KB of on-chip cache, verses the non-MMX on-chip cache of 16 KB, which enhances performance of even non-MMX applications, and it makes use of Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) for more efficient data processing. The 57 new and powerful instructions are specifically designed to process and manipulate audio, video, and graphical data much more effectively. Intel, having doubled its on-chip cache size from 16 KB on non-MMX processor chips to 32 KB on MMX enhanced chips, now allows more instructions and data to be stored on the chip reducing the number of times the processor must access slower, off-chip memory areas for information. The multimedia and communication applications of today often use repetitive loops that account for 90 percent of the execution time, even though they only account for 10 percent or less of the overall application code. A process called Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) enables one instruction to perform the same function on multiple pieces of data at once. This allows the chip to reduce compute-intensive loops common to audio, video, graphics, and animation. As an analogy, consider a quarterback telling all of the offensive team a play a one time, rather than telling each player the pla...
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...ology may have few performance benefits for mainstream business, however, since
the demand for more realistic multimedia is increasingly driving the PC performance needs market, and in that realm MMX-enhanced processor technology offers tremendous promise. Combine a PC, such as any of the three discussed in this essay, with software that are both designed to take full advantage of this new technology, and you are in for a truly amazing experience. If you are in the market for a new personal computer today, I strongly encourage you to take a close look at any of the package systems reviewed here and the new technology that they incorporate.
Family PC, March 1997 Hardware Reviews Review Editor
www.pcmag.com How MMX Technology Works by John Clyman and Nick Stam
www.pcmag.com Review: Gateway P55C-200 FPC Review Editor
www.pcmag.com Review: Packard Bell NEC Platinum 2240 Review Editor
www.Intel.com What is MMX Technology copyright: 1997 Intel Corp.
www.Intel.com Pentium Processor with MMX Technology copyright: 1997 Intel Corp.
www.pachardbell.com Packard Bell Platinum 2240 copyright: 1997 Packard Bell NEC Inc.