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Pentium and Pentium Pro Instruction Set Extensions
Intel's latest processors added a few instructions to the standard x86 instruction set used in 386 and 486 chips. Some programs (notably games) can be optimized to deliver higher performance on these processors by making use of these specific instructions. Very little software has actually been written to use these instructions. Some games however do use them, which is one reason why some of them will detect the processor in the PC and refuse to run if they do not find a Pentium.
Warning: It is very
important to realize that some of the Pentium "compatible" processors are only mostly
Pentium-compatible. For example, Cyrix's 6x86 processor is a Pentium-class CPU, but was
designed independently of the Pentium to support the generic x86 instruction set. It does
not implement the Pentium-specific instructions and will not run software that requires
them. This is not a concern for the majority of mainstream software but is a concern for
some programs. As Cyrix and AMD processors become more popular I expect that there will be
more and more incentive for programmers to avoid the use of processor-specific
Next: MMX Instructions