AMD created a set of SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) instructions called 3DNow! for its line of x86 microprocessors in 1998 as an upgrade from Intel’s MMX instruction set, released in 1997.
Applications involving multimedia and graphics processing, in particular, can benefit from SIMD instructions since they allow a processor to execute the same operation on multiple pieces of data simultaneously.
3DNow! is designed to accelerate applications such as video and audio encoding/decoding, image/video processing, and 3D graphics rendering by providing instructions for floating-point operations, integer operations, and data transfer operations. This makes it the go-to choice for many in the industry.
3DNow! was developed to provide a high-performance computing platform for various applications, and it could be combined with other processor technologies like the FPU (floating-point unit) and SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions). Prior to 2001’s SSE2 instruction set replacing 3DNow! as the industry standard SIMD instruction set on x86 processors, AMD processors widely utilized 3DNow!.
However, some modern AMD processors still support 3DNow! instructions, and programs created specifically to take advantage of its special features still make use of them.