AMD proposes speedier x86 instructions for multimedia

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. wants developers to start thinking about how they can speed up their software with new instructions that will appear in the company’s processors from 2009. The additions could simplify the way that developers code the iterative calculations used to shade graphics, render photos or add spatial effects to audio.

Future x86 processors based on AMD’s 64-bit Bulldozer core will understand the expanded instruction set, which the company calls SSE5. AMD published a note to developers about the SSE5 specification on Thursday.

Each of the new instructions will process several pieces of data with one instruction, a feature called Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD). Intel Corp. added the first Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) instructions to the x86 instruction set in 1999, and has introduced several generations since. It published the programming reference for SSE4, the most recent, in April.

AMD has typically followed Intel’s lead by incorporating support for that company’s extensions in its processors. With SSE5, AMD hopes to give developers and software buyers an extra reason to choose its processors over those of Intel.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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