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athlon, ,i386,i486,i586 and i686 are compatible.
rpm --showrc lists|grep archs
to find compatible architecture rpms.
Let me rephrase my question. Can all "athlon" CPUs use i686-specific packages? I know Athlon 64 can, but is is true for the older architectures such as Athlon?
Fedora usually releases its kernel packages for i586 and i686 formats. If your CPU is compatible with i686, then it makes more sense to use the i686 version because it's optimized for the i686 architecture.
Yeah, I hate absolutes, but I can't think of a single 'Athlon' that isn't i686. Another option is to pull up your cpu info:
The model name line usually gives a good indication of what your computer thinks you have under the hood (overclocking and underclocking can change what appears there). You can then google that chip and see if it's considered i5 or i6, but I think with just about anything built since, oh, 2001, you'll find it's very likely i686 or above.