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Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 21st Edition by Scott Mueller

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Math Coprocessors (Floating-Point Units)

Older CPUs designed by Intel (and cloned by other companies) used an external math coprocessor chip to perform floating-point operations. However, when Intel introduced the 486DX, it included a built-in math coprocessor, and every processor built by Intel (and AMD and VIA/Cyrix, for that matter) since then includes a math coprocessor. Coprocessors provide hardware for floating-point math, which otherwise would create an excessive drain on the main CPU. Math chips speed your computer’s operation only when you are running software designed to take advantage of the coprocessor.

Note

Most applications that formerly used floating-point math now use MMX/SSE instructions instead. These instructions are faster ...

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