Those of you that are new to the computer hardware scene may not be familiar with the impact Acer Laboratories Inc. (ALi) had on the evolution of AMD processors. The year was 1997 and AMD, for approximately one month, had the fastest x86 processor on the market. The K6’s introduction, and also AnandTech’s debut, in April of 1997 marked the first step in AMD’s long road to success. This was before the Pentium II was introduced, thus giving AMD control of the lime light, and it didn’t take them long to begin to reveal what they were planning for after the K6.
The successor, codenamed the K6-3D, was to boast improved FPU performance, the weakness of the K6, courtesy of a little known set of instructions that eventually carried the name 3DNow! However another feature of the, at the time, unreleased K6-3D processor was the fact that it ran on a 100MHz FSB instead of the 66MHz FSB that most Socket-7 CPUs ran at during that period. Remember that back then, there were no chips with on-die L2 cache, so the FSB frequency not only determined the bandwidth available between the North Bridge and the CPU but also the L2 cache speed. A 100MHz FSB could bring AMD to within striking distance of the Pentium II, however AMD was in no position to introduce a 100MHz FSB chipset for the Socket-7 platform. Intel had already abandoned the Socket-7 arena in favor of the new Slot-1 that their flagship Pentium II used.
This is where ALi stepped forward and took the burden of developing a new chipset for a platform Intel deemed dying. With their Aladdin V chipset, ALi became the first manufacturer to provide a chipset for this new Socket-7 motherboard, which gained the name Super7.
The Aladdin V beat VIA’s Super7 solution to the streets, and immediately illustrated a 10% performance boost over previous 66MHz FSB chipsets because of the increased bandwidth, even without using AMD’s K6-3D chip.
Unfortunately, as the K6-3D was eventually released as the K6-2, and as VIA’s solution debuted as well, it became clear that the ALi solution wasn’t the best overall solution for Super7 platforms. Especially when regarding AGP compatibility with some of the “newer” AGP adapters such as NVIDIA’s TNT2, the Aladdin V chipset had quite a few problems. As support for the platform died down, more and more manufacturers turned to VIA for their Super7 chipset and ALi slowly faded away from our sights.