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Desktop CPU Guide

Page 8 of 11

AMD Desktop CPUs

AMD Athlon 64 FX
AMD Athlon 64
AMD Athlon XP (400 MHz Bus)
AMD Athlon XP (333 MHz Bus)
AMD Athlon XP (0.13 microns)
AMD Athlon XP (0.18 microns)
Athlon Thunderbird
Original Athlon (K-7)
AMD Athlon MP
AMD Duron ("Morgan" core)
Original Duron
AMD K6-3 (Sharptooth)
AMD K6-2
AMD Chipsets

AMD Athlon 64 FX - On November 17, 2003, AMD introduced the FX 51 series processor at a speed of 2.2 GHz.

The main advantage of the Athlon 64 FX over the Athlon 64 is that is has a 128 bit memory path allowing memory throughput to be doubled to 6.4 GB/s vs. the Athlon 64's 3.2 GB/s.

So how fast are the new Athlon 64s? When the Athlon 64 is compared to an Intel Hyper Threading Pentium 4 on 32 bit applications, the Athlon 64 is a little slower. The Athlon FX is slightly faster than the Pentium 4 in 32 bit applications, but is slightly slower than Intel's Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

AMD Athlon 64 - On January 6 2004, AMD introduced the 3400+ Athlon 64 desktop processor.
On November 17, 2003, AMD introduced the 3200+ and 3000+ Athlon 64 desktop processors. On that date, Microsoft also announced the release of a beta version of Windows XP 64-Bit Edition, for AMD 64 bit processors.

AMD Athlon 64 main benefits include:

- doubled L2 cache memory to1024KB (except for the 3000+ model which has 512 KB L2 cache)
- faster HyperTransport bus technology allowing up to 6.4 GB/s data transfer capability (roughly the same as the 800 MHz Intel bus)
- 64 bit memory controller
- enhanced SSE2 instruction set capability
- and its ability to use 64 bit software

About AMD64 Technology

AMD first unleashed AMD64 technology in April 2003 with the launch of the AMD Opteron™ processor for servers and workstations. The AMD Athlon 64 processors are the first desktop and notebook processors based on the AMD64 architecture.

The AMD64 technology follows the evolutionary path of the industry-standard x86 architecture, allowing development of a unified 64-bit computing infrastructure designed to be fully compatible with the pervasive x86 architecture. AMD64 technology allows customers to protect their investments by continuing to use their 32-bit software until they decide to implement new, 64-bit software.

AMD Athlon XP (400 MHz Bus) - AMD announced the Athlon 3200+ with 400 MHz front-side bus (FSB) on May 13, 2003.

AMD Athlon XP (333 MHz bus) - On October 2, 2002 AMD announced Fall availability of the AMD Athlon(tm) XP processor 2800+ featuring an advanced 333 front-side bus (FSB). On February 10, 2003, AMD announced the 3000+ Athlon XP.

With data throughput gains of up to 25 percent, the AMD Athlon XP processor 2800+ will boost performance across the board on real-world applications. AMD also announced Fall availability of the AMD Athlon XP processor 2700+ with the advanced 333 FSB.

AMD Athlon XP (0.13 microns) - AMD introduced the AMD Athlon(TM) XP processor 2200+ with QuantiSpeed(TM) architecture--the first AMD desktop processor based on its 0.13 micron process technology, on June 10, 2002.
On August 22, 2002 AMD pre-announced the 2400+, and 2600+ which will not ship in volume until September. AMD reworked its 0.13 micron Thoroughbred core and added more transistors over its earlier 2200+ A model (all new 2200+ and faster processors will be made with this new die size which is called Thoroughbred Revision B ). The Thoroughbred Revision B Athlons are faster than the A version and supposedly are better candidates for overclocking.

So is the 2200 + (Thoroughbred Revision A) faster than the newest Pentium 4s? No it isn't. AMD benchmarks the 2200 against Intel's Pentium 4 at 2.2 GHz that has a 400 MHz bus and uses DDR RAM. It performs 4-10 % better than the Intel Pentium 4 2.2 GHz. However, it is doubtful that this difference would exist if RDRAM was used with the Pentium 4. For all practical purposes the AMD Athlon XP 2200+ should be considered to be evenly matched with the Pentium 4 2.2 GHz.

Are the new Thoroughbred Revision B chips faster than the Pentium 4? The Thoroughbred Revision B chips are much faster than the Revision A versions. Initial tests show the 2600+ is able to run as fast as the 2.53 GHz Pentium 4.

AMD Athlon XP (0.18 microns) - On October 09, 2001, AMD announced the new AMD Athlon™ XP processor, formerly codenamed “Palomino.” The AMD Athlon XP processor features the new, patented QuantiSpeed™ architecture, which delivers up to a 25-percent performance advantage versus competitive processors on a broad array of real-world applications, in such categories as digital media, office productivity, and 3D gaming. The new AMD Athlon XP processor offers a significant performance advantage compared to the standard AMD Athlon processor.
The new processor also includes 3DNow!™ Professional technology, which adds 52 new instructions, accelerating 3D performance for digital media applications such as photo, video and audio editing. The AMD Athlon “XP” modifier is designed to convey the extreme performance AMD Athlon XP processors deliver for the upcoming Microsoft Windows XP operating system.

AMD will identify the AMD Athlon XP processor using model numbers, as opposed to clock speed in megahertz, and is introducing 1800+, 1700+, 1600+ and 1500+ versions (however for those that are interested, the actual clock speeds are 1533 MHz, 1467 MHz, 1400 MHz, and 1333 MHz). Model numbers are intended to designate the relative application performance among the various AMD Athlon XP processors, as well as communicate the architectural superiority over existing AMD Athlon processors.
On November 5, 2001 AMD announced the 1900+ which has an actual clock speed of 1.6 GHz. On January 7, 2002 AMD introduced the 2000+ and has an actual clock speed of 1.67 GHz. On March 13, 2002 AMD introduced the Athlon XP 2100+ with an actual clock speed of about 1.78 GHz.

The AMD Athlon XP processor features 384KB of on-chip, full-speed cache. It is compatible with AMD's Socket A infrastructure, and supports an advanced 266MHz front-side bus. AMD Athlon XP processors are manufactured using AMD's 0.18-micron copper process technology in Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany.

Athlon XP Performance Vs Pentium 4. Per AMD tests, the Athlon XP processor runs about 25% faster than a Pentium 4 at the same clock speed rating (so the Athlon 1800 XP is roughly 25% faster than an Intel Pentium 4 1.8 GHz CPU and about the same speed or a little faster than a 2 GHz Pentium 4.)
Note: This formula cannot be used for Pentium 4s at speeds of 2.2 GHz or greater as these faster Pentium 4s are based on the 0.13 micron form factor and have a 512KB L2 cache.

Athlon Thunderbird with Full Speed L2 Cache. On June 5th, 2000 AMD announced a new family of Athlons that will be made for the old Slot A and the new Socket A. The new Athlons will be available in speeds of 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, and 1000 MHz. This CPU was previously code named "Thunderbird".
The additional features of the new Athlon include: 256KB of on-chip level (L2) cache and 128KB of on-chip level (L1) cache; enhanced 3DNow! technology with 24 additional instructions designed to improve integer math calculations, data movement for Internet streaming, and DSP communications; and a 200MHz system interface based on the Alpha EV6 bus protocol with support for scalable multiprocessing.
PC World tests have shown that "an enhanced Athlon-based system running at 800 MHz is comparable to a 1-GHz system powered by the original Athlon." Also, they say the new Athlons are just as fast as Pentium IIIs.
On August 15, 2000 AMD announced it was shipping the 1.1 GHz Athlon to system vendors and on October 17, 2000 the 1.2 GHz Athlon was shipped. AMD announced the 1.3 and 1.333 GHz Athlons on March 23, 2001. On June 6, 2001 the 1.4 GHz Thunderbird was shipped.

Athlon Thunderbird

Original Athlon (K-7) (500, 550, 600, 650,700, 750, 800, 850, 900, 950, 1000, and 1200 MHz) - This CPU was first shipped to vendors on 24 June 1999 at speeds of 500, 550, and 600 MHz . A 650 MHz Athlon was announced on August 9th and a 700 MHz Athlon was announced on October 4th. A 750 MHz Athlon shipped on November 29th, an 800 MHz Athlon shipped January 6th, and an 850 MHz Athlon shipped February 12th. On March 6th, AMD announced it was shipping the 900, 950, and 1000 MHz (1 GHz) Athlon processors. The 1.2 GHz Athlon shipped on October 16, 2000.

Features. The 32 bit Athlon is designed for a new type of motherboard - Slot A. It has a 200MHz bus based on an Alpha EV6 design, 128KB of on-chip level one (L1) cache (which is four times the size of the Pentium III processor's L1 cache), a programmable high-performance 512 KB backside L2 cache interface (which will eventually be increased to 8MB), and a very fast floating point engine.
The AMD Athlon™ processor includes specific enhancements to the 3DNow!™ instruction set. Enhanced 3DNow! adds 24 new instructions—19 to improve MMX™ integer math calculations and enhance data movement for Internet streaming applications and 5 DSP extensions for soft modem, soft ADSL, Dolby Digital, and MP3 applications. Per AMD, this new DSP functionality of the AMD Athlon is not supported by the Pentium III.

AMD Athlon K-7
AMD K-7 Athlon Slot A

Pentium III 600 MHz tested against the AMD K-7 Athlon 600 MHz - Athlon slightly faster?. A host of sites have posted their Pentium III 600 vs. the AMD Athlon 600 MHz speed tests. 
The clear consensus is that the AMD Athlon is from 2-20% faster in most tests depending on the systems and software used to run the test. Its greatest performance difference occurs in 3D graphics at 640X480 resolutions. At resolutions of 1024X768 there is virtually no speed difference in the two CPUs (Gamecenter claims this results because the video card performance is maxed out). The Athlon does not overpower the Pentium III in any of the tests (in most test there is less than a 5% speed difference), and curiously, all of the sites seemed to get varying results.

Note: Do not rely on speed tests made by AMD. AMD used an optimized Athlon 3DMark 99 MAX test for speed claims. The creator of the 3D test, Futuremark, now says AMD used an Athlon optimized version of the test to show the Athlon was 30% faster than the Pentium III in 3D graphic performance. Futuremark also says that other vendors did not have access to, and did not use, optimized versions of the test.

Pentium III E outperforming Athlon at higher clock speeds. Unfortunately, performance of the 750 and 800 MHz Athlon processors is not up to par as compared to the 750 MHz (and faster) Pentium IIIs. PCWorld and others have found that the 750 MHz Pentium III is faster than the 750 and 800 MHz Athlon (See our December 29th news item for more information). Even AMD is not claiming with its usual bravado that the 800 MHz Athlon is the fastest CPU around.
So why aren't the latest Athlon's keeping up with the Pentium III's? The problem is that the CPU is starting to outrun the rest of the system. AMD's current Athlon chipset only supports 2X AGP and 100 MHz SDRAM. However, Pentium III's with the Camino chipset have AGP 4X and up to 800 MHz Rambus DRAM. AMD is supposedly solving the RAM problem by working on double data rate DRAM chipsets, and hopefully, they will also boost their graphics port speeds to AGP 4X.

Developments. Originally we expected  the Athlon CPU to be produced in low volumes until AMD's new FAB 30, in Dresden, Germany, came on-line in mid 2000 (please see our related story, Can AMD Deliver the K-7?).

AMD Athlon MP

On October 15, 2001 AMD introduced its newest processors for multiprocessing servers and workstations, the high-performance AMD Athlon™ MP processors 1800+, 1600+ and 1500+. On December 12, 2001 the 1900+ Athlon MP was introduced and on March 13, 2002 AMD introduced the 2000+.
On June 19, 2002 AMD shipped the 2100+ Athlon MP and on August 28, 2002 the 2200+ was released.

A key advantage of AMD’s multiprocessing platform is Smart MP technology, which greatly enhances overall platform performance by increasing data movement between the two CPUs, chipset and memory system. Smart MP technology features dual point-to-point, high-speed 266MHz system buses with Error Correcting Code (ECC) support designed to provide up to 2.1GB per second per CPU of bus bandwidth in a dual-processor system. Smart MP technology also has an optimized Modified Owner Exclusive Shared Invalid (MOESI) cache coherency protocol that manages data and memory traffic in a multiprocessing environment.

The AMD Athlon MP processor features the patented QuantiSpeed™ architecture, which includes a high performance full-speed cache with hardware data pre-fetch, a fully pipelined superscalar floating point engine, and an exclusive L2 Translation Look-aside Buffer (TLB). The processor also incorporates 3DNow!™ Professional technology, which has 51 new instructions that extend AMD’s 3DNow! technology, enabling smoother, richer and more lifelike images, more precise digital audio and an enriched Internet experience.

The AMD Athlon MP processor is compatible with AMD’s stable Socket A infrastructure, and supports DDR memory technology.

AMD Duron ("Morgan" core). On August 20, 2001 AMD introduced The 1GHz AMD Duron processor for desktop PCs based on the new core codenamed "Morgan." On October 1, 2001 the 1.1 GHz Duron was introduced. Then, on November 15, 2001 the 1.2 GHz Duron was announced, followed by the 1.3 GHz Duron on January 21, 2001.
The enhancements to the new AMD Duron processor, which supports the Microsoft® Windows® XP operating system, means that users can immediately enjoy the benefits of additional multimedia instructions for better performance on photo, music and Internet applications. Like all AMD processors, the new 1GHz AMD Duron processor supports AMD's Socket A platform, a stable infrastructure which can help IT managers lower the cost of ownership.

About the AMD Duron™ "Morgan" Processor
The AMD Duron processor is a derivative of the award-winning AMD Athlon processor and is designed to provide practical performance for everyday computing for business and home users. Employing an innovative design, the AMD Duron processor features a sophisticated cache architecture with 192KB of total on-chip cache, a high-speed 200MHz front-side bus, and a superscalar floating point unit with 3DNow! Professional technology, and hardware data pre-fetch.
The AMD Duron processor offers buyers access to technology and performance that stands out among other processors in its class. It reflects AMD’s 30 years of design and manufacturing expertise and sales of more than 175 million PC processors. AMD Duron processors are manufactured on AMD’s 0.18 micron process technology in Fab 25, Austin, Texas

Original Duron - (600,650, 700, 750, 800, 850, and 900 MHz) On June 5th, AMD released the Duron processor at speeds of 600, 650, and 700 MHz The AMD Duron uses the new Socket A CPU interface and is not compatible with the Athlon Slot A connector.
The AMD Duron processor is derived from the AMD Athlon(TM) processor core and features full-speed, on-chip L2 cache memory, a 200MHz front side system bus, and enhanced 3DNow!(TM) technology. The AMD Duron processor features 128kB of on-chip L1 cache memory and 64kB of full-speed, on-chip L2 cache memory.
On September 5, 2000 AMD began shipping the 750 MHz Duron and on October 17, 2000 the 800 MHz Duron shipped. AMD shipped the 850 MHz Duron processor on January 8, 2001, the 900 MHz Duron on April 2, 2001.
Per AMD, "The AMD Duron processor is a derivative of the AMD Athlon processor. Although the two processors are related, there are key differences, reflecting the requirements of their target markets. Specifically, the AMD Athlon processor is targeted at the performance segment, and as such will have more cache memory and higher clock speeds."
The Duron was developed by AMD to compete against Intel's Celeron. While the Duron will eventually replace the K6-2 and K6-3, AMD says they currently have no plans to discontinue production of the K-6 CPUs.
AMD says the difference between the Duron and Athlon is that the Athlon has higher clock speeds and more full-speed, on-chip cache memory. AMD claims the Duron is 25% faster than a Celeron at the same clock speed.

K6-3 (Sharptooth) - (400 and 450 MHz). - AMD began volume shipments of the 400 MHz K6-3 on 22 February 1999. At that time, the K6-3 450 MHz was sent out in test quantities to computer manufacturers. The K6-3 is used in Socket 7 and Super 7 motherboards. Like the K6-2, the CPU has the 3DNow! multimedia instruction set.
For some unknown reason (production cost?), AMD has chosen not to increase the speed of the K6-3 above 450 MHz.

What's different about the K6-3? Per AMD it's the K6-3's "Trilevel Cache"; a full-speed 64KB Level 1 (L1) cache (a standard feature of the AMD-K6 processor family), an internal full-speed backside 256KB Level 2 (L2) cache, and a 100-MHz frontside bus to an optional external Level 3 (L3) cache on the Super7 motherboard (which can be as large as 2MB). As a result of the full speed 256KB L2 cache, the AMD K6-3 is outpacing Intel Pentium III and Pentium II CPUs (which have half-speed 512 KB caches) in non-graphics business application speed tests.

Tests by PCWorld compared the performance of 5 AMD K6-3 systems against the performance of 3 Intel Pentium III systems and found that "the fastest K6-III-400 performed like a Pentium III-450, and the fastest K6-III-450 performed like a Pentium III-500 in non-graphics business applications", however the AMD K6-3 was up to 44% slower than the Pentium III and Pentium II in multimedia and 3D graphics applications
<Why is this so? The K6-3 is faster in business applications due to its faster full speed 256KB L2 cache vs. the half speed L2 cache of the Pentium II and Pentium III. However, graphics applications do not receive much benefit from L2 cache because they do not reuse CPU instructions like business applications. Graphics programs depend on a fast floating point unit (FPU) for their speed, and right now, the Intel CPUs (including Celerons) have the fastest FPUs.>

What's the same? The K6-2 and K6-3 are identical in their architecture except for the new 256KB full speed L2 cache on the K6-3. Both CPUs get a graphics speed boost of up to 12% in 3DNow enabled software or any software that uses DirectX 6 or higher.

AMD K6-3
(Photo Courtesy of AMD)
AMD K6-3

Ready to upgrade your K6-2 to a K6-3? Your motherboard has to be capable of 2.2v CPU core voltage (consult your motherboard manufacturer's web site for further upgrade instructions).

AMD K6-2 - Sometimes called the K6-2 3D, uses Socket 7 and Super 7 motherboards. This CPU has been produced in speeds of 266, 300, 333, 350, 380, 400, 433, 450, 475, 500, 533 and 550 MHz K6-2s designed to run in the Super 7 motherboard (450 MHz and faster) use the 100 MHz system bus and PC100 SDRAM.
This chip has its own proprietary 3D instructions (it has 17 MMX-like 3D instructions called 3DNow!) and runs almost as quickly as an equivalent Pentium II CPU in business applications and slower than an Intel Celeron in graphics applications. Applications written for Microsoft's new DirectX 6 and DirectX 7 standard will take advantage of the faster geometry processing power of the 3DNow! instructions which provide about a 5-10% speed increase.

Windows 95 Bug Fix - On September 29, 1998 AMD announced a bug fix for the K6-2 350 MHz, and higher speeds, running Windows 95. Apparently under certain circumstances the 350 has been crashing during boot up under Win95 only. The cure is a patch to windows, and must be obtained through some arcane procedure through Microsoft Support (described at the AMD link above). Another alternative is to update to Win98.

AMD K6-2
(Photo Courtesy of AMD)
AMD K6-2

AMD Chipsets

AMD 750 - The AMD-750™ offers 200 MHz Athlon system bus, 2X AGP, PC-100 SDRAM with ECC, PCI, UDMA/66, 4 port OHCI USB, SMBus and ACPI. These features have been created to enable systems that are Microsoft® PC99 compliant.

AMD 760 - The AMD-761 system controller features the AMD Athlon system bus, DDR-SDRAM system memory controller, accelerated graphics port (AGP4X) controller, and peripheral component interconnect (PCI) bus controller. The AMD-766 peripheral bus controller features four primary blocks (PCI-to-ISA/LPC bridge, OHCI USB host controller, EIDE UDMA-33/66/100 controller, and system management logic), each with independent access to the PCI bus, a complete set of PCI interface signals and state machines, and the capability of working independently with separate devices.

AMD-760™ MP - The AMD-760 MP chipset, the world’s first AMD Athlon multiprocessor chipset to support DDR memory technology, is AMD’s high performance two-way multiprocessor core logic solution for the AMD Athlon™ MP processor. It consists of two chips—the AMD-762™ system controller (northbridge), and the AMD-766™ peripheral bus controller (southbridge). The AMD-760 MP chipset unleashes the power of DDR memory technology, which combines with other sophisticated core logic in data, memory and I/O control as well as system and power management to provide a powerful solution for server and workstation platforms. The AMD-760 MP chipset supports up to two AMD Athlon MP processors with independent 266MHz front side buses, as well as PC2100 DDR memory and AGP 4x graphics.

AMD-760™ MPX Chipset

The AMD-760™ MPX chipset is a high performance, two-way multiprocessor core logic solution for the AMD Athlon™ MP family of processors, offering Multi-Processor eXtended (MPX) performance compared to its predecessor, the AMD-760™ MP chipset. The AMD-760 MPX chipset offers extended performance through a 66MHz/64-bit/32-bit PCI bus and a feature-rich peripheral bus controller that provides PCI-to-PCI bridging capability.

The AMD-760 MPX chipset consists of two chips—the AMD-762™ system controller (northbridge), and the AMD-768™ peripheral bus controller (southbridge). The AMD-760 MPX chipset unleashes the power of DDR memory technology, which combines with other sophisticated core logic in data, memory and I/O control as well as system and power management to provide a powerful solution for server and workstation platforms.

The AMD-760 MPX chipset supports up to two AMD Athlon MP processors with independent 266MHz front side buses, as well as PC2100 DDR memory and AGP 4x graphics.

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