AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 processors

OVER THE PAST FEW weeks, we’ve seen a parade of dual-core CPUs, starting with the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the dual-core Opterons. Now it’s time for AMD’s dual-core desktop processor line, the Athlon 64 X2, to take its turn on stage. Sporting a fashionable 939 pins on their underbellies, these CPUs promise to drop into the average Athlon 64 desktop system and transform it, almost magically, into a dually. The X2 offers an infusion of creamy multitasking smoothness and nearly twice the peak processing power of an Athlon 64 FX-55.

We’ve had two versions of this CPU on the bench in Damage Labs for a while now: the screaming 4800+ that may be the fastest single microprocessor on the planet, and the gotta-have-it 4200+, AMD’s most affordable dual-core processor that promises to be every enthusiast’s new sweetheart. Can AMD’s dual-core desktop processors deliver on their promise? Keep reading.

Introducing the X2
As you might expect, the Athlon 64 X2 is simply the desktop version of the dual-core Opteron that we reviewed recently. It’s the same basic chip, just in a different package. In fact, the package will look very familiar to those of you who have seen a Socket 939 processor before. Here, in keeping with TR tradition, are a couple of big pictures of the CPU.

A couple of big pictures of the Athlon 64 X2 4200+ AMD says the Athlon 64 X2 should fit into existing motherboards with only a BIOS update, provided that the motherboard can deliver enough power to drive a current 90nm Athlon 64 processor. Existing Socket 939 CPU heat sink/fan combos should be sufficient to cool an X2, as well. As always, you’ll want to check with your motherboard maker before assuming your mobo will work with the new chip. There are always exceptions.

Given the performance of the dual-core Opterons, the X2’s common heritage should come as heartening news. The desktop version of AMD’s dual-core processor will come in four flavors featuring two different clock speeds, 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz, and two L2 cache sizes, 512K per core and 1MB per core. The entire lineup will look like so:

CPU Clock speed L2 cache size Price
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz 512KB $537
Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.2GHz 1024KB $581
Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.4GHz 512KB $803
Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz 1024KB $1001

The X2 line will range from expensive to painfully expensive to root-canal-without-anesthetic expensive. Unlike Intel, AMD will not initially be offering a relatively cheap dual-core processor that steps on the toes of its current single-core offerings in the meaty part of the market. All of the X2 chips are priced above the Athlon 64 4000+, and they get higher model numbers, as well.

Speaking of model numbers, AMD has apparently foregone a perfect opportunity to throw out its “clock speed equivalent” rating system that’s increasingly less relevant over time—especially now that dual cores are the order of the day. Take the Athlon 64 X2 4800+, for example. The 4800+ is literally a pair of K8 cores running at the same clock speed as a single Athlon 64 4000+, but it only gets a model number increment of 800. Too modest? Perhaps, but who’s to say? Does a bear pope in the woods? A question can be hard to answer when it makes no sense. AMD would have done well to abandon its True Performance Initiative now that the shift to thread-level parallelism has thrown clock speed-based performance estimates out the window once and for all. Somehow, the company that once looked like it was tilting at windmills trying to get Intel to acknowledge that clock speeds aren’t a faithful indicator of CPU performance continues to beat on the windmill now that it lies broken on the ground.

Anyhow, the price-competitive scenarios between Intel and AMD CPUs look like this. The Athlon 64 X2 4800+ will match up directly against the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 at about a thousand bucks, while the X2 4200+ will stand toe to toe with the Pentium D 840 at around $530-ish. AMD’s X2 4400+ and 4600+ models will face little direct competition from Intel, and Intel’s low-end Pentium D 820 will face an asymmetric threat from AMD’s single-core chips like the Athlon 64 3400+. These will be strange times, indeed.

AMD will not be abandoning high-performance, single-core processors once the X2 arrives, either. The Athlon 64 FX will get at least one more refresh this summer, aimed at gamers who want the highest possible performance in their single-threaded entertainment. Longer term, multi-core processors are no doubt the future, but AMD is moving more cautiously and conservatively into dual-core desktop parts than Intel.

One of the more intriguing questions about AMD’s plans for the X2 has to do with its availability. AMD’s official word on the matter now is that the Athlon 64 X2 will be “available in June,” but when we visited AMD’s Austin, Texas offices in March to talk about its dual-core product plans, we got an unexpected lesson in the anatomy of a “rolling product launch.”

Here’s the plan as they communicated it to us, stage by stage. The Athlon 64 X2 would first be announced at the time that dual-core Opterons were unveiled (and it was). Some time after that, reviews would happen (that’s today). Next, there would be an official product launch. At that time, the first products would become available. (One could surmise that this day will come in June.) Initially, during the third quarter of the year, X2s would be sold primarily to OEMs and smaller system builders in Europe, as well as to system builders in the United States. After that, in the fourth quarter, AMD would turn its focus toward selling retail X2 processors in the U.S.

Obviously, initial availability will be sketchy, as it is now for Intel’s Pentium Extreme Edition 840. Both AMD and Intel are rushing to get their dual-core products into the hands of reviewers well ahead of the time when the processors will be available in volume. We’ve seen such launch tactics applied innumerable times before, but rarely have we seen it mapped out in such exquisite detail. What we still don’t know, however, is when A64 X2 processors will become available for eager PC enthusiasts to purchase via major online vendors like Newegg.com. Could be June; could be December. I suppose that depends less on what AMD has planned than on what AMD can manage to deliver. If so, only time will tell.

Inside the Athlon 64 X2
As I’ve said, the Athlon 64 X2 is the same basic chip as the dual-core Opteron, so it shares the same internal architecture. Here is a fancy looking but wildly simplified block diagram of that design.


AMD’s dual-core processor architecture. Source: AMD.

The X2’s two CPU cores share a single, unified system request queue and a crossbar that connects them to the on-chip memory controller and HyperTransport link for I/O. This arrangement should allow the processor’s two cores optimal use of available resources without too much contention. The cores themselves are able to communicate with one another through the system request interface. Cache coherency updates and any data transfers between the two cores’ caches will happen over this high-speed, on-chip data path.

Despite what you see in the diagram above, the Athlon 64 X2 has only one HyperTransport link, because it will only be used in single-socket systems. The pricier Opterons get more than one link for use in multi-socket configs. That leaves the Athlon 64 X2 with 6.4GB/s of peak theoretical memory bandwidth and 8GB/s of peak theoretical I/O throughput. At 14.4GB/s total, that’s well more than the 6.4GB/s peak throughput of Intel’s 800MHz front-side bus.

Because Intel’s dual-core Smithfield chip has no internal data links between its two cores, all memory accesses, system I/O, and cache coherency updates must happen over its shared front-side bus. That leaves the Athlon 64 X2 with a sizeable bandwidth advantage, at least in theory.

The two chips are very comparable in terms of size and transistor count, though. With 1MB of L2 cache per core, the X2—code-named “Toledo” on AMD’s roadmaps—packs roughly 230 million transistors into a die that’s 199 mm2. Intel’s Smithfield is strikingly similar at about 233 million transistors and 206 mm2.


AMD’s dual-core chip up close

The Athlon 64 X2’s two cores are both endowed with all of the updates that AMD included in its recent revision E of the K8 architecture. According to AMD, the changes in the E-step chips include the addition of SSE3 instructions, the ability to host mismatched DIMMs on a memory channel with little performance penalty, better memory loading so that a full house of DIMMs won’t be a drag on performance, and improved memory mapping.

I don’t think that’s the whole story, however.

In our testing, we’ve found that AMD’s 90nm chips have faster L2 caches, as demonstrated here. We’ve also found that the revision E cores perform quite a bit better clock for clock, especially in memory-intensive tasks. That leads me to believe that AMD has implemented some of the other features expected to come along with SSE3 support, perhaps including enhanced data prefetch, additional write-combining buffers, and the ability to convert the LEA instruction to an ADD in certain cases. I tried to shake some more details about these changes out of AMD but wasn’t able to get many specifics. You’ll see the effect in our benchmark results, though, when the older-rev Athlon 64 FX-55, with a markedly faster memory subsystem, struggles to keep pace with revision E Opteron 152. The X2 chips also perform relatively better clock for clock in single-threaded apps than one might otherwise expect.

Like the revision E chips, the Athlon 64 X2 is manufactured with AMD’s 90nm process using silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology. In addition, AMD has optimized its (much larger) dual-core chips to consume no more power and generate no more heat than its single core parts by tweaking manufacturing techniques. The relatively lower power consumption comes at the expense of clock speed, but obviously the tradeoff isn’t huge, since the X2 tops out at just 200MHz less than the Athlon 64 FX series currently does. Between the rev-E performance increases, the power optimizations, and the presence of two cores on one chip, the Athlon 64 X2’s performance per clock and per watt should be a sizeable advance over the CPUs AMD was selling just months ago.

Test notes
We have focused our testing today on the question of thread-level parallelism, in part because we believe that is the most important performance question one can explore in relation to multi-core processors. However, we are excited about the possibilities for better multitasking that may come with dual-core CPUs, and we’d be glad to take your suggestions for testing multitasking scenarios.

Also, we have included results for the Pentium D 840 in our testing, which we obtained by disabling Hyper-Threading on our Extreme Edition 840. Since the Pentium D 840 is just an Extreme Edition 840 sans HT, the numbers should be valid.

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least twice, and the results were averaged.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Opteron 148 2.2GHz
Opteron 152 2.6GHz
Opteron 175 2.2GHz
Dual Opteron 248 2.2GHz
Dual Opteron 252 2.6GHz
Dual Opteron 275 2.2GHz
Xeon 3.2GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Xeon 3.4GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Dual Xeon 3.2GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Dual Xeon 3.4GHz (Nocona 1MB)
Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz
Pentium D 840 3.2GHz
Pentium Extreme Edition 840 3.2GHz
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz Athlon 64 3800+ 2.4GHz (Venice)
Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz
Athlon 64 FX-55 2.6GHz
Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz
Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz
System bus 1GHz HyperTransport 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped) 800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped) 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped) 1GHz HyperTransport
Motherboard Tyan Thunder K8WE S2895 SuperMicro X6DAL-G Intel D955XBK Intel D955XBK Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe
BIOS revision 2/21/2005 beta 080010 BK95510J.86A.1152 BK95510J.86A.1234 MCT2/dualcore
North bridge nForce Professional 2200
nForce Professional 2050
AMD 8131 PCI-X Tunnel
Intel E7525 955X MCH 955X MCH nForce4 SLI
South bridge 6300ESB ICH7R ICH7R
Chipset drivers SMBus driver 4.45
IDE driver 4.75
OS integrated INF Update 7.0.0.1019 INF Update 7.0.0.1019 SMBus driver 4.45
IDE driver 4.75
Memory size 2GB (4 DIMMs) 2GB (4 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type OCZ PC3200 512MB registered ECC DDR SDRAM at 400MHz Kingston PC3200 512MB registered ECC DDR DRAM at 333MHz Corsiar XMS2 5400UL DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz Corsiar XMS2 5400UL DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz Corsair XMS Pro 3200XL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL) 3 2.5 3 4 2
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 3 3 2 2 2
RAS precharge (tRP) 3 3 2 2 2
Cycle time (tRAS) 8 7 8 8 5
Hard drive Maxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150
Audio Integrated nForce4/AD1981B
with NVIDIA 4.60 drivers
Integrated 6300ESB/ALC650
with Realtek 5.10.0.5820 drivers
Integrated ICH7R/STAC9221D5
with SigmaTel 5.10.4456.0 drivers
Integrated ICH7R/STAC9221D5
with SigmaTel 5.10.4456.0 drivers
Integrated nForce4/ALC850
with Realtek 5.10.0.5820 drivers
Graphics GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 71.84 drivers
OS Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
OS updates

Note that we have more total memory on the workstation-class setups. I don’t believe any of our benchmarks are constrained by available RAM in a 1GB system, but you’ll still want to keep the difference in mind.

All tests on the Pentium systems were run with Hyper-Threading enabled, except where otherwise noted.

Thanks to Corsair, OCZ, and Kingston for providing us with memory for our testing. This matchup required lots of high-quality RAM, so we had to spread the love around. All three brands are far and away superior to generic, no-name memory.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor’s Choice winners in our latest PSU round-up.

The test systems’ Windows desktops were set at 1152×864 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance
We generally start out with some memory subsystem tests, so we can see how the processors match up on that front. These results sometimes help us to understand some of the later benchmark results from real applications.

The Athlon 64’s on-die memory controller gives it a very low latency path to memory, and the X2 is no exception. This low-latency connection also yields lots of memory bandwidth, giving the X2 a bandwidth edge over the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and the Pentium D. In the Linpack graph, we can “see” the size and performance of the CPUs’ different cache configurations. The Pentium 4 processors with 2MB of L2 cache really stand out here, of course. Notice also that the Athlon 64 X2 4800+, which runs at 2.4GHz, matches the Athlon 64 FX-55 2.6GHz in L2 cache bandwidth. Like I said, AMD’s 90nm chips appear to have faster L2 caches, clock for clock. You can also see how the X2 4200+’s smaller cache slows its performance with data sets of certain sizes.

Gaming performance
Up next are some gaming tests, which will essentially serve to illustrate the futility of running a dual-core processor in a single-threaded application. Notice that we’ve included above each result a little graph generated by the Windows Task Manager as the benchmark ran on our dual Opteron 275 system (with four total CPU cores.) This should give you some indication of the amount of threading in the application. In some cases with single-threaded apps like the games below, the task will oscillate back and forth between one CPU and the next, but total utilization generally won’t go above 50% for a dual-core or 25% for a quad-core (or quad-front-end, in the case of the XE 840 with Hyper-Threading) system.

Doom 3
We tested performance by playing back a custom-recorded demo that should be fairly representative of most of the single-player gameplay in Doom 3.

Far Cry
Our Far Cry demo takes place on the Pier level, in one of those massive, open outdoor areas so common in this game. Vegetation is dense, and view distances can be very long.

Unreal Tournament 2004
Our UT2004 demo shows yours truly putting the smack down on some bots in an Onslaught game.

The Athlon 64 X2’s gaming performance is outstanding, probably more because of AMD’s enhancements to its rev-E cores than any benefit from having a second CPU core onboard. Despite a 200MHz clock speed handicap, the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ outperforms the Athlon 64 FX-55 in two of the three gaming benchmarks above.

3DMark05

3DMark05’s overall score is almost entirely dictated by the limitations of our GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card, but the multithreaded CPU test in 3DMark05 is another story. The X2 processors perform especially well here.

POV-Ray rendering
POV-Ray just recently made the move to 64-bit binaries, and thanks to the nifty SMPOV distributed rendering utility, we’ve been able to make it multithreaded, as well. SMPOV spins off any number of instances of the POV-Ray renderer, and it will bisect the scene in several different ways. For this scene, the best choice was to divide the screen up horizontally between the different threads, which provides a fairly even workload.

With four threads taking full advantage of Hyper-Threading it’s fairly close, but the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ turns in a faster render time than the Pentium XE 840. Similarly, the X2 4200+ beats out the Pentium D 840 here.

3dsmax 7 rendering
We tested 3ds max performance by rendering 20 frames of a sample scene at 320×240 resolution. This particular scene makes use of a motion-blur effect that requires extensive multi-pass rendering. We tried two different renderers: 3ds max’s default scanline renderer and its built-in version of the mental ray renderer.

If anything, the X2’s lead over the dual-core Pentiums is more pronounced in 3dsmax. Note that mental ray refuses to make use of all four CPU cores on the Opteron 275 due to licensing issues.

Cinema 4D rendering
Cinema 4D’s rendering engine does a very nice job of distributing the load across multiple processors, as the Task Manager graph shows.

Impressively, the X2 4800+ edges out the Pentium XE 840 in Cinema 4D’s renderer, traditionally something of an Intel stronghold in our benchmark suite. The 4200+ follows suit, outpacing the Pentium D 840. As with all of the rendering tests, the 4200+ also positively obliterates its more expensive single-core peers like the Athlon 64 FX-55 and the P4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz.

Cinebench’s shading tests are all single threaded, and it shows. The X2s perform respectably but are nothing special here.

LAME audio encoding
LAME MT is, as you might have guessed, a multithreaded version of the LAME MP3 encoder. LAME MT was created as a demonstration of the benefits of multithreading specifically on a Hyper-Threaded CPU like the Pentium 4. You can even download a paper (in Word format) describing the programming effort.

Rather than run multiple parallel threads, LAME MT runs the MP3 encoder’s psycho-acoustic analysis function on a separate thread from the rest of the encoder using simple linear pipelining. That is, the psycho-acoustic analysis happens one frame ahead of everything else, and its results are buffered for later use by the second thread. The author notes, “In general, this approach is highly recommended, for it is exponentially harder to debug a parallel application than a linear one.”

We have results for two different 64-bit versions of LAME MT from different compilers, one from Microsoft and one from Intel, doing two different types of encoding, variable bit rate and constant bit rate. We are encoding a massive 10-minute, 6-second 101MB WAV file here, as we have done in our previous CPU reviews.

Multithreading produces some nice performance gains on all of the processors able to take proper advantage of it, and both X2 models match up well against the competing Pentiums as a result.

Xmpeg/DivX video encoding
We used the Xmpeg/DivX combo to convert a DVD .VOB file of a movie trailer into DivX format. Like LAME MT, this application is only dual threaded.

Windows Media Encoder video encoding
We asked Windows Media Encoder to convert a gorgeous 1080-line WMV HD video clip into a 640×460 streaming format using the Windows Media Video 8 Advanced Profile codec.

The X2 processors would appear to have few weaknesses, as they match or surpass the competing Pentium processors in video encoding, another customary Intel strength.

ScienceMark

We’re using the 64-bit beta version of ScienceMark for these tests, and several of its components are multithreaded. ScienceMark author Alexander Goodrich says this about the Molecular Dynamics simulation:

Molecular Dynamics is lightly multithreaded – one thread takes care of U/I aspects, and the other thread takes care of the computation. The computation itself is not multithreaded, though Tim and I were looking into ways of changing the algorithm to support multi-threading programming a couple years ago – it’s a lot of effort, unfortunately. When MD [is] running there [is] a total of 2 threads for the process.

Here are the results:

The Primordia test “calculates the Quantum Mechanical Hartree-Fock Orbitals for each electron in any element of the periodic table.” Alex says this about it:

Primordia is multithreaded. Two main tasks occur which allow this to happen. Essentially, we identified 2 parallel tasks that could be done. We could probably take this a step further and optimize it even more. There is an issue, however, with the Pentium Extreme Edition that we’ve identified. The second computation thread gets executed on the logical HT thread rather than the 2nd core, so performance isn’t as good as it could be. This will be fixed in the next revision. This doesn’t effect [sic] the regular Pentium D. A workaround could include disabling HT on Pentium EE. There are 3 threads for primordia – 2 threads for computation, 1 thread for U/I.

The next two tests are only single-threaded, and they don’t make as good use of any of the CPUs here as they could if they were better optimized. The ScienceMark team has plans to incorporate linear algebra libraries from Intel and AMD in order to boost performance.

All told, the X2 does well here, too. Only dual Opteron 252s are faster than the X2 4800+ in Primordia and Moldyn. The BLAS SGEMM test doesn’t look too good for any of the AMD processors, but the tables turn in the double-precision DGEMM benchmark. Truth be told, none of the CPUs are performing up to potential in the unoptimized versions of SGEMM and DGEMM included here.

SiSoft Sandra
Next up is SiSoft’s Sandra system diagnosis program, which includes a number of different benchmarks. The one of interest to us is the “multimedia” benchmark, intended to show off the benefits of “multimedia” extensions like MMX and SSE/2. According to SiSoft’s FAQ, the benchmark actually does a fractal computation:

This benchmark generates a picture (640×480) of the well-known Mandelbrot fractal, using 255 iterations for each data pixel, in 32 colours. It is a real-life benchmark rather than a synthetic benchmark, designed to show the improvements MMX/Enhanced, 3DNow!/Enhanced, SSE(2) bring to such an algorithm. The benchmark is multi-threaded for up to 64 CPUs maximum on SMP systems. This works by interlacing, i.e. each thread computes the next column not being worked on by other threads. Sandra creates as many threads as there are CPUs in the system and assignes [sic] each thread to a different CPU.

We’re using the 64-bit port of Sandra. The “Integer x16” version of this test uses integer numbers to simulate floating-point math. The floating-point version of the benchmark takes advantage of SSE2 to process up to eight Mandelbrot iterations at once.

The Pentium Extreme Edition 840 proves impossible for the X2s to beat in this highly optimized test of peak SSE2 performance. Sphinx speech recognition
Ricky Houghton first brought us the Sphinx benchmark through his association with speech recognition efforts at Carnegie Mellon University. Sphinx is a high-quality speech recognition routine. We use two different versions, built with two different compilers, in an attempt to ensure we’re getting the best possible performance. However, the versions of Sphinx we’re using are only single-threaded.

These Sphinx results are one reason I think that AMD has added enhanced data prefetch to the newer K8 cores. The Athlon 64 3800+ at 2.4GHz beats out the Athlon 64 FX-55, as does the X2 4200+ at 2.2GHz. Overall, though, the Pentium 4 remains the champ in Sphinx.

picCOLOR
picCOLOR was created by Dr. Reinert H. G. Müller of the FIBUS Institute. This isn’t Photoshop; picCOLOR’s image analysis capabilities can be used for scientific applications like particle flow analysis. Dr. Müller has supplied us with new revisions of his program for some time now, all the while optimizing picCOLOR for new advances in CPU technology, including MMX, SSE2, and Hyper-Threading. Naturally, he’s ported picCOLOR to 64 bits, so we can test performance with the x86-64 ISA.

At our request, Dr. Müller, the program’s author, added larger image sizes to this latest build of picCOLOR. We were concerned that the thread creation overhead on the tests rather small default image size would overshadow the benefits of threading. Dr. Müller has also made picCOLOR multithreading more extensive. Eight of the 12 functions in the test are now multithreaded.

Scores in picCOLOR, by the way, are indexed against a single-processor Pentium III 1GHz system, so that a score of 4.14 works out to 4.14 times the performance of the reference machine.

Once more, the X2 asserts its excellence in a multithreaded test.

Power consumption
We measured the power consumption of our entire test systems, except for the monitor, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up PRO watt meter. The test rigs were all equipped with OCZ PowerStream 520W power supply units. The idle results were measured at the Windows desktop, and we used SMPOV and the 64-bit version of the POV-Ray renderer to load up the CPUs. In all cases, we asked SMPOV to use the same number of threads as there were CPU front ends in Task Manager—so four for the dual Opteron 252, four for the Pentium XE 840, two for the Opteron 175, and so on.

The graphs below have results for “power management” and “no power management.” That deserves some explanation. By “power management,” we mean SpeedStep or PowerNow/Cool’n’Quiet. (In the case of the Pentium 4 600-series processors and the XE 840, the C1E halt state is always active, even in the “no power management” tests.) Sadly, the beta BIOS we used for our Tyan S2895 motherboard didn’t support AMD’s PowerNow, so we couldn’t report scores for the Opterons with power management enabled. Similarly, the beta BIOS for our Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe mobo wouldn’t support Cool’n’Quiet—which is PowerNow with a different name—on the Athlon 64 X2 processors. AMD says all of its dual-core chips will support power management once the proper BIOS support becomes available.

As advertised, both X2 models deliver power consumption comparable to their single-core predecessors, at least according to these system-level numbers. Unfortunately, the Pentium D and XE chips don’t fare so well. The systems based on these chips suck up over 100W more than the systems based on the competing X2 processors.

Conclusions
Let’s start by talking about the Athlon 64 X2 4200+. This CPU generally offers better performance than its direct competitor from Intel, the Pentium D 840. Most notably, the X2 4200+ doesn’t share the Pentium D’s relatively weak performance in single-threaded tasks like our 3D gaming benchmarks. The Athlon 64 X2 4200+ also consumes less power, at the system level, than the Pentium D 840—just a little bit at idle (even without Cool’n’Quiet) but over 100W under load. That’s a very potent combo, all told. In fact, the X2 4200+ frequently outperforms the Pentium Extreme Edition 840, which costs nearly twice as much. Thanks to its dual-core config, the X2 4200+ also embarrasses some expensive single-core processors, like the Athlon 64 FX-55 and the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz. Personally, I don’t think there’s any reason to pay any more for a CPU than the $531 that AMD will be asking for the Athlon 64 X2 4200+.

If you must pay more for some reason, the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ will give you the best all-around performance we’ve ever seen from a “single” CPU. The X2 4800+ beats out the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 virtually across the board, even in tests that use four threads to take best advantage of the Extreme Edition 840’s Hyper-Threading capabilities. The difference becomes even more pronounced in single-threaded applications, including games, where the Pentium XE 840 is near the bottom of the pack and the X2 4800+ is constantly near the top. The X2 4800+ also consumes considerably less power, both at idle and under load.

The X2 4800+ gives up 200MHz to its fastest single-core competitor, the Athlon 64 FX-55, but gains most of the performance back in single-threaded apps thanks to AMD’s latest round of core enhancements, included in the X2 chips. The X2 4800+ also matches the Opteron 152 in many cases thanks to Socket 939’s faster memory subsystem. Remarkably, our test system consumes the same amount of power under load with an X2 4800+ in its socket as it does with an Athlon 64 FX-55, even though the X2 is running two rendering threads and doing nearly twice the work. Amazing.

There’s not much to complain about here, but that won’t stop me from trying. I would like to see AMD extend the X2 line down two more notches by offering a couple of Athlon 64 X2 variants at 2GHz clock speeds and lower prices. I realize that by asking for this, I may sound like a bit of a freeloader or something, but hey—Intel’s doing it. No, the performance picture for Intel’s dual-core chips isn’t quite so rosy, but the lower-end Pentium D models will make the sometimes-substantial benefits of dual-core CPU technology more widely accessible. If AMD doesn’t follow suit, lots of folks will be forced to choose between one fast AMD core or two relatively slower Intel cores. I’m not so sure I won’t end up recommending the latter more often than the former.

Beyond that, the giant question looming over the Athlon 64 X2 is about availability, as in, “When can I get one?” Let’s hope the answer is sooner rather than later, because these things are sweet.

Comments closed
    • SecretMaster
    • 10 years ago

    I have seen the future… and AMD is screwed!

    In all seriousness, hopefully Bulldozer will be the next Athlon 64 X2 processor.

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    I killed my 2.6C with too many volts… actually lots did, it even has an popular acroym called NSDS “northwood sudden death syndrome”…

    Northys couldnt handle volts like bartons. Bartons you could/can literally ABUSE with 2.2Volts, even says so in AMD tech docs, and I’ve never heard of anyone frying a Barton/tbred. Not so with Northwood..1.65-1.7 is about the extreme limits before catastrophe.

      • Convert
      • 15 years ago

      I wouldn’t say that. Although I don’t deny that I have heard of bartons taking 2.0v. I have also heard a few reports of mobiles dieing suddenly after being overvolted though. Since mobiles are just hand picked desktop chips this still applies.

      Do you have a link to the docs stating they can take 2v+?

        • Hector
        • 15 years ago

        Sure thing bro:

        Quoted from AMD:

        “The AMD Athlon XP processor model 8 should not be subjected to conditions exceeding the absolute ratings, as such conditions can adversely affect long-term reliability or result in functional damage.”

        The absolute rating for Vcore = Vcc_core_dc_max + 0.5 V

        – For DLT3C
        Vcc_core_dc_max = 1.5 + 0.05 = 1.55 V
        The absolute rating for Vcore = 1.55 + 0.5 = 2.05 V

        – For DUT3C
        Vcc_core_dc_max = 1.6 + 0.05 = 1.65 V
        The absolute rating for Vcore = 1.65 + 0.5 = 2.15 V

        – For DKT3C i.e. Barton e.g. 2500+, 3200+
        Vcc_core_dc_max = 1.65 + 0.05 = 1.70 V
        The absolute rating for Vcore = 1.70 + 0.5 = 2.20 V

        §[<http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/26237.PDF<]§ §[<http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/25175.pdf<]§ Now if they'd only tell us for A64;) I'm a little nervous pushing more than 1.9 though X2's since it could get expensive real quick:)

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    I agree with #126, Extreme overclcoking is silly unless you’re into cyber benchmark olympics which is cool but not my thing. The amount of money spent offers extremely poor value for the 10-15% gains over good, cheap, “poor-mans water cooling” like a $40 Thermalright XP120.

    Buying $1000 vapos or $700 heavy duty WC units I think you just lost the spirt of overclcoking in the first place; Namley, taking the lowest rated chip in an iteration, ie cheap, and making it into a $1000 CPU. Turning pyrite into gold was the beauty IMO. But you’ve just erased that whole concept on the front end with cooling.

    With all that said I do watercool every CPU/GPU/Chipset I own. Not for performance perse but silence. It’s really annoying those high rpm 60mm screamers on highend video cards and chipsets. Those loud CPU and case fans. With water, dont right, with low rpm 120mm fans gliding over radiators you can tone this down signifigantly and still have great performance, something really impossibe with air and todays hardware. (i’ve tried) But my units are cheapies customs which can’t compare to DangerDen stuff.

    I think the whole industry is about to adpot water. Apple already has G5’s factory watercooled, Is Dell next? Or will Dothan save us? That still does’nt help Vcards.:)

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    118,

    You’re being just a bit of a luddite..:) sure I have two Mobile XP’s over 2600Mhz which are generally somewaht fast. I’m happy 30 FPS and 10×7 is acceptable for you, But with A64, I play now at 20×15 with everything maxed on a beautiful diamondtron. With X2 A64 I will be able to encode whatever movie while doing that.;)

    I don’t think most of you realise how huge X2 is. Maybe this simple graphical representation will help explain the quantum leap in CPU world right now.
    §[<http://www.xbitlabs.com/images/cpu/athlon64-x2/res.png<]§

      • d0g_p00p
      • 15 years ago

      I somewhat agree. Everyone has acceptable limits and frame rates when it comes to games. Example on my Barton 2.4Ghz, 1GB DDR400, 9700 Pro, I can olny run Doom 3 at 800×600 HQ. On my A64 setup, full everything at 1600×1200. My buddy who is running M barton 2.5, 1 GBDDR, 9800XT, runs Doom 3 at 1600×1200 HQ and is all good.

      I have seen his setup. No way would I play that with his hardware.

      Bah, point being. Everyone has what they think is acceptable. We all differ when it comes to hardware and frame rates. If you roll Intel, AMD, nVidia, ATI, etc etc.. To each his own, right?

    • totoro
    • 15 years ago

    How does it fol…..never mind. ; )

    • d0g_p00p
    • 15 years ago

    yap yap yap. price, AMD, Intel, LOL. I think what most people here fail to see is this. Let’s dream rightr now, shall we. Let’s just say the intel DC was faster and I wanted one. Ok, I would need (as it’s been pointed out) new RAM, new mobo, and the CPU. Now, dream off and yes I live in AMD world right now. I have a 939 mobo, DDR 400 RAM and a A64. My PC is all set to go. Now *if* I were to buy a AMD CPU, the price hit would be small because I am ready have the platform to roll. I know if you are Intel and you have DDR2, kill that factor. It still does not account for the CPU + the mobo and that hit is one I don’t like to take very often.

    See I spread my upgrade over several months so the hit is not quite as hard. With the AMD offerings I can take the hit better. Anyway that is how I see it. I could be completely insane though, I mean check my user name ;0

    • d0g_p00p
    • 15 years ago

    not going to read all 100 comments, so if this is a repost, sorry.

    Boing: §[<http://www.amdzone.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=124&page=4<]§

    • thecoldanddarkone
    • 15 years ago

    ops sorry.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 15 years ago

    Great review, Scott!

    The power consumption tests are especially useful for those of us interested in relatively quiet computing.

    • albundy
    • 15 years ago

    what truely impressed me was the power consumption of the AMD CPUs. Nicely done. I thought I was going to need a nuke reactor to power my next system. What is also suprising is that AMD and intel must be sharing some info around. I mean, now the AMD chips look exactly like intel chips.

    • Skyline57GTR
    • 15 years ago

    Again, then I better wait for next latest AMD 64 processor dual core. :S

    • SpotTheCat
    • 15 years ago

    lol “Does a bear pope in the woods?”
    little typo there I think.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 15 years ago

      It’s either “Is a bear catholic?” or “Does the pope sh*t in the woods?” isn’t it? 😉

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    OK I’m sick and tired of whiners!!! You want serious performance you got to pay money. You want serious workstation you got to pay serious dollars!!! Go buy yourself a $44 Duron or a $60 Celron if you can’t handle the barriers to entry. They offer superior bang for buck of anything on planet.

    Speaking of barriers to entry, it’s not that different!!!

    Why? Because the Intel 955X chipset is hella expensive….lowest price for Intel D955XBK board is $255 online.

    So Intel D955XBK $255
    Intel 820 $241
    Geil DDR2 667 1GB- $150
    ————————————–
    =$646

    vs.

    MSI NEO4-F $80
    AMD X2 4200+ $537
    Corsair PC3200 VR 1GB KIT- $75
    —————————-
    =$692

    Which you think offers superior bang for buck? Hint: It’s not even close. With a 2.8 P4E you won’t be in any “game” I know of at satisfactory levels…In case y’all missed it, a 4200 beat Intels BEST chip the majority of the time @TR or anandtech let alone the lowly 820…y[http://www.anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=2410<]§ Intel obviously terrified to put a 820 anywhere in these reviews, the chip most of you misinformed cheap skates are looking at..I wonder why? Go look you won't find it!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 15 years ago

      By the time any of these processors are available in quantity, there will be cheaper Intel-based motherboards on which to put these CPU’s. You’re pricing stuff that doesn’t exist. I’d also like to see a link to a GB of RAM for $75. You’re assuming people can go out and buy an 800-series Pentium or an Athlon 64 X2 right this moment, and noone can. We’re looking at estimated prices, and Intel’s motherboards are always more than Taiwan’s. ZipZoomFly’s price on the ASUS P5WD2 (955X chipset) is actually less than what you’re quoting. Not by much, but with very little looking I’ve already beaten it. Gigabyte’s 8I955X Royal is expected to come in lower still.

      Don’t forget, though, that the ICH7 southbridge will give more features than nVidia and VIA’s offerings, as well.

      And finally, I’m not a cheapskate; I’m just not going to pay for more than I need. I’m running a PC that’s 3 years old now (roughly) and I expect that it’ll fill my needs for quite a while longer, and my next PC would do the same.

        • thecoldanddarkone
        • 15 years ago

        I think it is funny that he used value series verse geil ddr 667 when most dd2 modules overclock pretty good. Also he placed a full decked out intel board verse a very good but plain board. The biggest thing he is forgetting is the FACT THAT that motherboard has only been available the last couple days and its ASUS *always overpriced anymore (If I remember correctly the nforce 4 sli boards were 200 at one time). its 250 for an msi intel nforce editions on zzf.

        • Convert
        • 15 years ago

        §[<http://www.newegg.com/OldVersion/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=20-156-020&depa=1<]§ He has the wrong ram picked out for the intel system though. In the test notes he uses 533 not 667 so that shaves off about $45 (excluding shipping since I assume he left it off for all the parts). So right now you are looking at a $100-$125 difference.

          • thecoldanddarkone
          • 15 years ago

          I personally will keep watching the prices. When they actually come out.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Same. If you look at what intel already has out with regards to the 925X/XE the cheapest is $130/$140 respectively. So that could potentially be another $125-$135 off from what was listed.

            $170-$180 potential difference.

        • Hector
        • 15 years ago

        Fair enough:) I just think it’s premature then to also state AMD will sell these at MSRP. Since then have they done that? No sir, AMD has typically sold processors at much less than MSRP. Anyone remeber $1000 tbirds? I do. I bought mine for $170 I think a couple months after release.

        All I did was compare cheapest DC products out or MSRP’s announced. We’ll definity see how this all hashes out when available to us down at newegg.

        And lets not forget AMD will release lower end, competing chips with intel. AMD always releases thier high-end A64 parts first.

        Why? Yes it has to do with lack of capacity at AMD. Why not get the first adoptors first with highend offerings and pickup trailers later when you can only produce X amount of processors. EX: If limited to 10,000 chips then I’d rather sell 10,000@$550 than 10,000@$200 would’nt you?

        Sorry If you were offended by my cheapskate comment. I get a bit emotional when people fail to see the value presented and place single cores into the price matrix. It’s a different game here. Professional use with a professional price.

        Here is that $75 ram, really $78 now..:)
        §[<http://www.newegg.com/OldVersion/app/viewproductdesc.asp?description=20-145-440&DEPA=0<]§

      • spuppy
      • 15 years ago

      LOL you’re comparing literally the most expensive motherboard on one platform, that is only meant to be used with the EXTREME processor, to one of the cheapest mobos for the other platform…

      As a baseline, you should use a standard $150 price for a 945P based motherboard, that the Pentium-D is meant to be used on. These boards will start showing up around the same time as the CPUs.

      And try to be realistic about the RAM.

      So:

      Intel 945P mobo: $150
      Intel 820: $241
      1GB DDR2 533: $100

      and:

      AMD NF4 Ultra mobo: $100
      AMD 4200+: $527
      1GB DDR 400: $100

      So you could have a dual core cpu/mobo/ram combo for UNDER $500, while the cheapest dual core AMD combo will be just under $800

      Hmm doesn’t reality hurt sometimes?

        • Hector
        • 15 years ago

        You want second best save that paltry sum. I’m not here to tell you what to buy but ask yourself, will 4200 setup be at least 20% faster than the 20% savings you just relised on 820? Who has value in the economics sense?

        Show me those prices. Either announced or someplace. Until then your post is as hot air as a prescott. I gave real prices for real products not some shoulda coulda wouldas.

          • spuppy
          • 15 years ago

          I’m just saying to all the fanboys who whine about TR only looking at CPU prices, citing that Intel platforms are “so much more expensive”. You might spend an extra $30-50 on a motherboard, and $20 on RAM.

          On top of that, you are getting a more solid platform which is quicker and more robust than what NVIDIA and VIA usually come up with (look at TR’s last Socket 939 chipset comparison, then read their intro on 955x and 945p)

            • Hector
            • 15 years ago

            I agree with the chipset stuff. AMD has dog sh1t. But in the final analysis performance is what counts.

      • thecoldanddarkone
      • 15 years ago

      just using zzf and newegg

      §[<http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?ProductCode=241170<]§ msi nforce 4 sli intel edition 249.99 241 2.8 d core §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820145128<]§ corsair vs x2 100 dollars §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820144325<]§ or geil 667 x2 140 §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820220054<]§ or patriot 700 x2 230 (THE BEST TIMING/speed bin I could find on newegg) 250 241 100 or 140 or 230 591 631 721 §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813130492<]§ 156 or 170 (depends 537 athlon 4200 §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820145440<]§ vs 78 or ocz 400 (most likely tccd) 190 §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16820146890<]§ g skill 235 (for those complaining I could have went with oczs ddr 625 or something) 771 or 882 or 928 difference 180 and on the middle (high)251 difference *pretty much ultimate 207 not very likely because chips would probably change at that point) (can be alot more depending on the ram). Obviously both made to be overclocked the ram motherboard and (both processors will probably overclock nicely on water)

        • Hector
        • 15 years ago

        I don’t know about you but I’m getting UTT Muskin for $120 a gig that can run 2-2-2-8/1T @250Mhz over at outpost.

        Dont worry bro, I’ll do a side by side OC review. Beware, these puppies are getting 2800Mhz on default core.

          • thecoldanddarkone
          • 15 years ago

          ohh I know, but it would be fun to have both just to oc. thats just me, however, there still is 200 dollar difference even in sli. 🙂 also link, might bite (i have a 3000+ right now).

      • swaaye
      • 15 years ago

      A Pentium 4 2.8E is going to play every game out there just fine. Well other than programmed-by-a-1st-year-CS-kid EQ2. Lol. My bro spends hours and hours on his 2.6/400/R9700 playing FPS games with his guilds. Doom3 ran quite well. HL2 ran very well.. America’s Army and other Unreal Engined games run fantastic. Q3-engined games run even better.

      You don’t need a damned dual core $500-minimum chip for games. Jeez. My AthlonXP mobile @ 2.4Ghz will run things pretty insanely for the $80 I paid!

      I’m not sure if most of you realize how much in the minority the people who visit hardware enthusiast sites are. You are really out of touch with how our annoying world works if you think otherwise. These dual core chips, like any other high end chip in history, are placed in the high cost, low volume sector. These suckers are hugely overpriced to cater to a niche in the consumer market. Your local electronics superstore ain’t gonna be selling these in serious volume for quite a while.

      They are bargains for companies though, would be a awesome Xeon annihilator for workstations and servers.

        • Convert
        • 15 years ago

        NM, you edited your post

        • BabelHuber
        • 15 years ago

        q[< My bro spends hours and hours on his 2.6/400/R9700 playing FPS games with his guilds. Doom3 ran quite well.<]q No, it does not. Lots of people told me nonsense like this, I cannot hear it anymore. I've played D3 on a R9800PRO/Athlon64 3000+. The 9800PRO cannot handle 1024x768, no matter the settings, except if you like to have 60fps while looking against a wall and 15-20fps when you're actually fighting an Imp. 800x600 was OK, but I wouldn't call that 'running quite well'!. A P4 2.6/9700 cannot do better.

          • flip-mode
          • 15 years ago

          seriously? I ran 1024×768 on my 9800pro & xp-m 2500 just fine at medium quality. Only choppy every once in a while, otherwise very enjoyable. Actually, it ran Doom3 much more smoothly than Far Cry.

            • highlandr
            • 15 years ago

            Yeah, I ran D3 on my 9600XT/XP-M at 800X600, medium and I had no complaints. The times it did stutter, I was a little too busy thinking about the 10 monsters that just spawned…

            However, I also tried to play D3 multiplayer on my sister’s 1800+ with a 5200FX, and it was completely unplayable. I couldn’t lower the settings far enough to get any sort of smoothness.

          • JediNinjaWizards
          • 15 years ago

          Not true….my 9800pro does 1280×1024, high quality no AA just fine…doesnt stutter unless AA is enabled. Do yuor homework, or only talk about stuff you own. :/

          • JediNinjaWizards
          • 15 years ago

          Not true….my 9800pro does 1280×1024, high quality no AA just fine…doesnt stutter unless AA is enabled. Do your homework, or only talk about stuff you own. :/

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 15 years ago

            According to TR, the 9800XT drops to 33 average fps at high quality. Since that is an average, it must be lower at some points, and you only had pro. If you consider minimum frame rates in the 20s playable, that is your opinion, but I would suspect most people want more.

            The link
            §[<https://techreport.com/etc/2004q3/doom3/index.x?pg=5<]§

    • Grigory
    • 15 years ago

    So, any bets when we will see quad-core CPUs from AMD or Intel? 🙂

    Edit: “I am perfectly confident that we will see engineering samples [of quad-core processors] in 2007,” said AMD

    • AmishRakeFight
    • 15 years ago

    I’ve never paid more than 280 bucks for a processor (Pentium 4 northwood 3.2) that is still serving me quite well. when are the affordable chips gonna hit?

      • indeego
      • 15 years ago

      You’ve never had so much choice for affordability. What you want is high end of the marketplace and cheap, and they don’t make money doing thatg{<.<}g

    • PenGun
    • 15 years ago

    Actually it’s “does a bear shit in the pope’s hat” … sharbster … sealab … eh’.

    • astrotech66
    • 15 years ago

    Man, I can’t wait to get one of these things. I’ve got the motherboard I need already, all I need is the chip itself. I’m thinking that maybe the 4400+ will be a good compromise between price and performance, if prices come down a little bit from what they expect them to be. It’s not that much more than the 4200+ from the charts I’ve seen ($581 vs. $537). The big price jump happens when you go up to the 4600+.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 15 years ago

    can anyone even buy these chips?

    edit: tfp answered my question: a resounding NO. So, where’s all the resentment for CPU makers doing paper launches at these reviewing sites, when ATi and nVidia get reamed publicly (rightly so) in all their previews.

      • Hattig
      • 15 years ago

      Maybe you should read the review you are commenting on to see an answer to your question, at least for the AMD chips.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 15 years ago

        Maybe you oughtta relax. Gett off me, lady, I’m married

        • tfp
        • 15 years ago

        It does and it doesn’t that is a pretty large window, but if its the best they can do for a date its the best they can do.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 15 years ago

      And another question, what’s with all the busybody apologists for AMD and their fab space? It’s not my fault they can’t produce them fast enough to maintain their 15% marketshare, so I don’t care. Just like ATi and the X800XT PE, if you can’t make them fast enough for them to be a mass product, don’t announce them as one.

    • droopy1592
    • 15 years ago

    I’ll jump when the prices aren’t as silly, fab bottleneck or not.

    • wagsbags
    • 15 years ago

    Pentium 840D draws over 100W more than a 4200+? Any idea how much of this is going to the processor? I assume not all of it because everything I’ve heard says that dissipating around 200W would be nearly impossible w/o water.

    Damage what did you use to cool these things?

    • leor
    • 15 years ago

    . . . and intel’s final advantage goes down the drain.

    beaten at video encoding? say it ain’t so!

    i honestly don’t see why anyone would upgrade to an intel machine at this point. even if you are upgrading from intel, you can reuse your ddr1 ram offsetting the price difference between intel and amd’s dual core offerings (when they both become available).

    and in similar fashion i’m sure we’ll not only see lower cost versions of the X2, but shortly after launch the chips detailed here will get cheaper.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 15 years ago

      money. $241 vs 2.5x that for AMD? I’ll go Intel and still see an improvement. It’s a bit slower and a lot cheaper. This was everyone’s reasoning for going with a Barton vs. a Northwood, including me. Intel will win this one for the same reason. Maybe not with The AMD Faithful, but with enough folks that Intel will maintain marketshare.

        • leor
        • 15 years ago

        um, if you are upgrading to an intel dual core chip you have to add the cost of a new MB and some DDR2 ram.

        so much for your savings. if i want an X2 CPU i just have to buy a new CPU.

        if i’m using a P4 at least i can reuse my RAM, and let’s not forget here the 4200 is abusing the 3.2 ghz dual core, nevermind how pathetic the 2.8 will perform.

        if you want to spend your money on that be my guest.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 15 years ago

          I’d have to replace my Socket A motherboard no matter what, and I’d want more RAM if I was upgrading anyway. 512MB won’t be enough to exploit these CPU’s.

          But anyway, if you want to be totally l33t, go buy your overpriced CPU and then bitch about the cost of a Mac.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Enough already, you are a friggin broken record with the Mac crap. You some how manage to find a way to incorporate this into every single post! Knock it off already.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            Way to get to the heart of the post: which is that I’d have to replace my Socket A board to buy EITHER of these chips, and so would alot of people. Also incorporate how many people basically always replace the motherboard with a CPU upgrade.

            Buying new DDR II RAM isn’t a big deal to me; AMD’s going that direction too, eventually, and would probably already be there if their memory controller supported it. It’s a total red herring: DDR II will have to be purchased eventually.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Grah, I don’t care what the point was, I don’t care what you were trying to prove, I don’t care what you were talking about. This Constant MAC BS that you inject into almost every post is old, it was stupid the first time and it was stupid the 10 times you did it afterward. I have no idea why you are so bitter, I have no idea how you could possibly be pissed for such a long period of time that you feel the need to constantly bring it up in completely non related topics but I have had enough.

            I didn’t say your entire point was nullified just because I pointed out your completely off topic remark. I didn’t even want to respond to your true point because I believed it to be nonsense. You are whining about a personal preference and a subject that has way too many variables (well maybe I already have a motherboard, well maybe I want more ram anyways, well maybe I wont the lottery ect). Have fun in a never ending debate.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            then why are you even wasting your breath on me? YOU may already have a motherboard, but I don’t, so I’d “waste” my money on Intel if I was going ot upgrade as soon as CPU’s are available. but whatever, you’re the big man, you made your point.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            For the love of God read what I type. This has nothing to do with PC vs. Mac (although it is with you obviously), this has nothing to do with Me vs. You. This has nothing to do with Intel vs. Amd.

            This is about you grinding your axe in almost every thread and post you author. Just let it go or create a thread in the forum and get it off your chest. It isn’t even like you did it twice, I remember first reading one of these responses about 2 weeks ago and they have continued. I rolled my eyes the first time around and now it’s just flat out annoying.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            I’m trying to stay on topic and YOU keep bringing up the Mac. 😉

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Partially wrong. I am bringing up your grinding. I am not saying that I am on topic, if I recall this is about the review of 2 new dual core AMD processors. Sub topic wise there are two people complaining over price. Me? Well I finally got tired of your grinding.

            Is that clear? I am off topic to tell you to stop with the grinding. This isn’t some contest where I am trying to one up you, I am just tired of your grudge.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            grinding what though? I have no problem grinding against the price on these CPU’s as Intel can apparently offer them cheaper upon release. If the price on Intel’s offerings go up and match AMD’s, I might be inclined to rail against Intel. Until then, they get something resembling a pass for giving something resembling sanity in price structure.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            I ask that you read what I have typed thus far. I have no comment about the processors, the processor you should chose, the processor that best fits the public or anything else with regards to amd or intel. I did not attack your argument at first. Only after it was clear you did not read what I typed I said that I didn’t even want to comment on your main point due to the fact it’s just bickering. He has a different upgrade path than you, what does arguing over it solve?

            So, the point of all this was and still is very simple and clear. Stop with the Mac axe grinding. Your comments are just as stupid as someone making them against the Mac. Just think if all I ever did was inject anti Mac statements into my posts that had nothing to do with Mac in the first place. That would get pretty tiring wouldn’t it?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            dude, I don’t think you’ve noticed that I quit and you’re still going on about it. You’re too busy accusing me of “grinding” this mythical “axe” to notice what I AM talking about and if you can’t be a productive member of this conversation, go flame someone else.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Mythical? Do you deny the fact that you have consistently managed to do this with previous posts? Even in the forums you do this with some posts. I didn’t say you were continuing to grind it AFTER your original post in THIS discussion either. You post one thing, manage to grind your Mac axe and move on to another discussion, comment about the topic and again manage to throw something in about the Mac.

            I didn’t say ALL you did was grind the axe, thanks for reading… You “inject” this crap into many of your posts, thanks for reading.

            In fact, all this nonsense and gibberish is starting to get me riled up. It was simple, leave the Mac stuff at the door in future discussions. No really, that’s ALL it was. No more mac statements out of left field. One sentence to understand. No I am not saying you aren’t allowed to talk Mac, by all means do, just do it in a non troll manner.

            “But anyway, if you want to be totally l33t, go buy your overpriced CPU and then bitch about the cost of a Mac.”

            Is troll material. Just like the people who spout crap off about Macs. You are doing the same thing.

            Now, since you insist on having the last word, be my guest. No I mean it, come up with some crazy twisted response that has *[

            • Damage
            • 15 years ago

            This thread needs to end, now, or some bans will happen.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            what’s with you and all this PC shit, you’re a broken record. 🙂 edit: oooh, I got modded and posted in red. Very pretty.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            You poor poor soul. Leave it up to a disgruntled consumer to see things that aren’t there. Leave it up to a Fanatic to raise his hackles over nothing.

            I didn’t bash a Mac anywhere. I didn’t praise a PC anywhere.

            You were saying?

            • derFunkenstein
            • 15 years ago

            uhm….what? I’m just using yoru line of thinking against you. Sorry you didn’t recognize it. 🙂

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            You are just using nonsense. Sorry you didn’t recognize it.

            • Damage
            • 15 years ago

            This thread needs to end, now, or some bans will happen.

            • Krogoth
            • 15 years ago

            He’s trying to point out some of the double standards that some x86 ethusiast have towards Macs. The prices on X-2 series are making some AMD fanboys eat crow, because Intel is the value guy in this round.

            x86s aren’t necessary cheaper then a Mac, if you were included a decent case and parts with a software bundle for the x86 counterpart.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            *Head explodes*

            • Krogoth
            • 15 years ago

            Wow, that was a bit too much to take in. 0_o

            • flip-mode
            • 15 years ago

            Agreed. Enough TROLLing

            • tfp
            • 15 years ago

            How is him owning a socket A PC and needing to upgrade motherboard, cpu, and ram trolling?

            Stop being a fanboy.

          • tfp
          • 15 years ago

          /[

            • leor
            • 15 years ago

            you can’t buy intel’s yet either, does that mean we just shouldn’t talk about these CPUs then?

            • cass
            • 15 years ago

            I think its fun to try and see what will happen, but I know I won’t spend a $1000 on a Proc. I just bought a CAR for $1025.. 2001 model 33,000 miles. I really would never consider buying a Proc for $1000. I am real close to setting up my first dual opteron with 1Gb memory and a 244 and 844 procs for a total cost of $500 there ain’t no way I can justify a Proc that costs that much….

            The proof will really be down the road to see which company delivers value and quantity.. the performance is so close the cheaper available part will most likely sell first.

            Seeing How I am more against intel than I am for AMD I will probably stay socket 754 for most systems till AMD gets tired of playing “socket of the Month” and settles on something that will be here for a while. It will then be possible to get sse3 support. Right now, I think socket A stuff is overpriced, and low end socket 754 is where the value is and the stuff over that is just overpriced. some older opteron stuff is getting cheap as it is cycled out.

            • tfp
            • 15 years ago

            Really I don’t think they should bother until they are available. These paper launches are retarded but I understand why they put up a review.

      • tfp
      • 15 years ago

      well until we can buy these magical chips and at a reasonable price to boot I can understand why someone would not go with the AMD offering

      btw thier final advantage has not gone down the drain and thats market share and cash… Make that two small advantages.

    • Hattig
    • 15 years ago

    I would like to see AMD release 1.8GHz and 2.0GHz X2s as well, but I imagine that the 1MB L2 parts at those speeds are turning into Opteron DC, and are the 512KB L2 parts a different core, or do they have 1/2 the cache disabled on each core because of a manufacturing flaw? Yeah, 3800+ and 4000+ 2.0GHz X2s and 3400+ and 3600+ 1.8GHz X2s may appear within 6-12 months though. Maybe AMD is worried about the clashing rating number?

    Still, if you use your computer 10 hours a day, at 100W more power consumption and 10c a unit, thats 10c a day, $35 a year. So add $70 to $100 to the price of every Pentium D to account for the extra power bills!

    The 2.8GHz Pentium D is interesting because of its low price, even though it will be a poor performer in everything but multithreaded or heavy multitasking apps. At $240 + $100 that’s $340 for the PD. The motherboard has to use a new Intel chipset, expect them to be high cost (albeit fully featured) – $150? $200? That’s $440. DDR2 memory is only a little more expensive than DDR nowadays, but even so that’s $20+ as well. $10+ more for a more powerful power supply too :p The X2 4200+ isn’t looking so bad now for something that is probably twice as good!

    Obviously the 3.0GHz and 3.2GHz Smithfield are immediately discountable because they’re even higher cost for less performance than even an X2 4200+, especially if you are merely upgrading a S939 platform. Even so, S939 boards can be had for a reasonable amount.

    • Damage
    • 15 years ago

    Ok, time to buy another server or do more load balancing. For now, you can hit a mirror at §[<http://www2.techreport.com<]§ -- 'tis faster.

      • wagsbags
      • 15 years ago

      Thank God. I was wondering if it was my connection. I could barely get to the site.

      • Mr Bill
      • 15 years ago

      Great idea, maybe an dual Opteron 275 and write an article about how you select and configure the components.

    • Krogoth
    • 15 years ago

    4200+ is the gateway drug to ethusiast who wanted to tasted MP enviorments but, the cost requirements using professional-level board, PSU and chassis were a big turn down.

    $500 is one hell of a bargin for a dually-rig with a modern CPU design no less. The 4200+ still provides enough muscle to get by single-threaded apps like gaming.

    820 is cheaper but the power requirements and inferior single-threaded performacne might not be desirable for some gamers. For HTPC Ethusiasts who can manage the greater power and thermals requirements would love it’s smooth-creamness and encoding power over any single-core CPU.

    • flip-mode
    • 15 years ago

    y[

      • Wulvor
      • 15 years ago

      I agree, I don’t know why people have problems with seeing this. Higher number, generally higher performance.
      If anything Intel’s numbers tend to make people heads hurt, there was a shop in my city that was selling Intel 700 series processors in desktops, hey thats a higher number than the 600 and 500 series right? I had a couple ask me about the systems because everyone else was advertising lower number cpu’s in their ads.

        • IntelMole
        • 15 years ago

        I read at the Inq that people have been supplied with plastic coated crib cards for the Pentium lineup.

        Clarity my buttcheeks.
        -Mole

      • wagsbags
      • 15 years ago

      I’m inclined to agree.

    • Thresher
    • 15 years ago

    *[

      • flip-mode
      • 15 years ago

      see UberGerbil’s post #13 for reasons why AMD can’t give you what you ask for

      • AGerbilWithAFootInTheGrav
      • 15 years ago

      What concerns me that TR did not factor in the price of the SYSTEM!!!

      Usually they do it, and I am not saying they did this on purpose, but this once, the article’s conclusion should be updated…

      The whole point is even if AMD cpu is 531$ as the other poster pointed out, not having to upgrade the “motherboard” and memory more than settles it for existing S939 owners, and even if you are new in the market the price difference between a S939 mobo + DDR1 and Intel Dual CPU compatible mobos + DDR2 more than compensates for CPU price difference and that will be for bottom end Intel dual core parts, and now kick in the very superior performance from AMD and I am really wandering why will TR recommend the dual core Intel instead for either a lot cheaper single core AMD, or about the same price >>>system<<< wise AMD 4200+?!?

        • spuppy
        • 15 years ago

        You’re really reaching for a reason to praise AMD, aren’t you? LOL

      • lovswr
      • 15 years ago

      Thresher, as I am a small (very small) AMD stockholder I am glad that they are not trying to serve you(yet). The tech hordes here at TR probably can not cover the cleaning of AMD’s corporate offices for a week; let alone providing what I want. An increased share price. However, fianally AMD is going where the real money is at. Corperate customers who have much deeper pockets. I see this as AMD fianlly getting it right. Yes I want some dualy goodnes in my house as well, but lets face it. We are a niche market.

        • yokem55
        • 15 years ago

        In addition, AMD had a much harder time turning a profit when they went the low-price per processor, high-volume route in the interest of trying to increase marketshare. They ended up in market that had a big inventory problem with too many chips on the market, and an ASP that did not meet the bills. Now, AMD is willing to sacrafice some marketshare in the interest of maintaining a higher ASP and ensuring overall profitability (which really is the overall goal). A price slashing war with Intel is a war that AMD has lost again and again, and they have now effectively given up and are quite happy to sacrafice some market share to ensure profitability.

    • IntelMole
    • 15 years ago

    Damn that was some good reading.

    I want.

    I can’t have (being a lowly student type who’s already more than served by his P4M 2.8GHz laptop), but I want.
    -Mole

    • Pete
    • 15 years ago

    Nice review of an incredibly desirable pair of CPUs, Scott.

    One question, though. ET’s review noted that the Intel system felt smoother when multitasking: the X2s hitched occasionally. Did you notice the same thing?

      • crose
      • 15 years ago

      What is ET? Extra Terrestrial?

        • flip-mode
        • 15 years ago

        Extreme Tech?

        • Pete
        • 15 years ago

        Yep, ExtremeTech.

    • Dposcorp
    • 15 years ago

    AFR. (Another fine review – Thanks Scott)

    They kept saying that AMD designed the K8 from the ground up to go dual core, and now it shows. No great power usage, and very good performance with very few, if any, weaknesses.

    I saw a gig of Corsair PC3200 for around $80.
    Team up a 4200+ X2 with 2GB DDR of that stuff, and your machine should fly, and wont cost you ton. If I wasnt doing much gaming, I would pick up a MSI Matx S939 board based on the ATI chipset with onboard graphics and drop that cpu and 2GB ram in there.

    When I am ready to game, I pop in a PCI-E video card and throw down.

    I am not ready to trade my dual Opteron system in yet, but it is getting close.

    • mrscintilla
    • 15 years ago

    What I chuckle about is the “sweetheart,” “creamy,” and “smoothness” labels snapped on by Scott. You gotta wonder how geeky you need to be to call a processor, no matter how many gigaHZ it has, such endearing terms…

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 15 years ago

    Intel had its a$$ handed to it again.

    Get these damn chips out there, AMD!!

      • Hector
      • 15 years ago

      yep the performance margins get further and further apart as AMD releases new processors…looking sad for Intel cept on balance sheets.

      Hey people think Mc Donalds makes great hamburgers too check out thier market cap if you doubt it;)

      • UberGerbil
      • 15 years ago

      /[

    • blitzy
    • 15 years ago

    nice, hope my mobo supports these so i can upgrade from my 3000+ in a year or so

    • Mr Bill
    • 15 years ago

    Very nice review. I see the Athlon 64 4200+ hangs right in there with the Opteron 175. But yeah, the 4800+ stomps the PExEd 840 pretty thoroughly and besides “psst, hey buddy, its cool”.

    • Overlord
    • 15 years ago

    From page 1: “Does a bear pope in the woods?”

    Don’t you mean “poop”? Or am I missing the joke?

      • Mr Bill
      • 15 years ago

      “A question can be hard to answer when it makes no sense.”

      From the next line. A nice twist on the phrase. My favorite: Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a bananna.

      • Ruiner
      • 15 years ago

      The better form of that joke is, ‘does the pope sh*t in the woods?’

        • derFunkenstein
        • 15 years ago

        That’s my favorite line from Boondock Saints

    • Jase
    • 15 years ago

    Wow, look at those numbers! How embarrassing for Intel…

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    Don’t be complaining about AMD prices. First of all, even the 4400 has superior price/performance characteristics over all dual cores. Lucky Intel did’nt throw one of their crappy cheap 820’s in there or you’d see that clearly.

    Then you start adding up a cheap intel system with that 820 and it’s no longer so cheap anymore with thier high priced DDR2 and expensive DC mobos. About $800.

    I think it will be the same price… around $800 for 4200 + 939 board + 1gig DDR.. As an 820 setup. Nevermind the AMD setup will beat 820 like a red headed step child.

      • Krogoth
      • 15 years ago

      Only the performance, factory OCed DDR2 are expensive. The normal DDR2 sticks have a $10-20 price prenium over it’s DDR1 counterpart. The only drawback to the 8xx series would be the extra cost in power and thermal requirements.

      I wouldn’t use a pricy CPU like a 4200+ in a cheapo S939 motherboard that may or may not probably handle it. You would have to get a decent NF4/NF3U board with the latest BIOS update.

    • Pettytheft
    • 15 years ago

    Damn, this settles it. Looks like my next workstation will be AMD based. Provided they can get these out at a decent price. Otherwise back to Intel

    • Hector
    • 15 years ago

    I love techreport almost as much as X2’s. You guys do an excellent job of showing all testing conditions and show lots of real world so anyone can reproduce with no question as to settings,:)

    All I can say about this processor is OMG!!! I want one now, not June, not Q3 like Anand speculates, NOW!!!!

    I wish you tried OCing…. My plan is H2O with my RBX buy 4400+ put them @ 2.8ish.

      • Krogoth
      • 15 years ago

      OC’ing a dually CPU rig is difficult espeically, when you are dealing with dual-core CPUs. You would have to deal with have all of the extra power and heat concentrated in one area. At least in Dual-CPU rigs they were seperated. Chassis cooling was more of a concern. You have twice of the chance that CPU wouldn’t be able to OC well, regradless of cooling and voltage boosts.

      I don’t know anybody here is more then willing to place a $500+ chip on the line. If you can afford the loss then, more and likely you can afford to get a 4800+ which you are guaranteed 2.4Ghz per core.

        • DrCR
        • 15 years ago

        Um, you must not be an overclocker lol. Or at least not the type who’s nearing 3GHz on their Barton core. 😉

        It’s true though, you have to be a *real* OCer to have any fun with these chips, i.e. ProCooling level. Match a X2 4400+ with a G5 Storm and an Iwaki MD20Z, a couple of nice, large, thin fedcos, and you could have a lot of fun! 😀

        DrCR

          • jdevers
          • 15 years ago

          Real men don’t overclock with crappy old water systems 😉 It isn’t REALLY pushing the system without sub-freezing temperatures…

          • Krogoth
          • 15 years ago

          Extreme Overclocking is self-defeating in the end. The shear $$$$ of extreme cooling solutions like Vapor-Chill, high-end water-cooling and LN2 defeats the purpose of saving money by buying a lower-binned part and OC to the higher-bin’s speeds. The amount of overvoltage required for insane stable-for-benchmarking OC gains, shortens your CPU lifespan into 1-2 years if not less regradless of cooling.

          Extreme Overclock at best is an e-penis contest. You aren’t going to able to run the CPU stable for any extented durations of time.

            • d0g_p00p
            • 15 years ago

            yeah. Tell that to the guys who are pushing 3+Ghz stable. i am hitting 2.7Ghz on air and loving every second of it. :rolleyes:

            “shortens your CPU lifespan into 1-2 years if not less regradless of cooling.”

            Oh NO!! if I was going to keep a CPU for over 2 years, then I would know nothing about overclocking. Plus that crap is old news and not true. I have had my Pentium 133Mhz @ 166Mhz for over 6 years without a HSF and it’s still running strong. It should be dead right?

            Sorry for looking like an A**hole but I could care less about overclocking. I get the chip, try one multi and see what goes on. If it works, Sweet, I have just saved money and my games run better. People like speed and if that power is free, so be it. You really think I am worried about pushing my CPU 500Mhz over limit? Hell read the review I’ll be rocking dual’s soon enough.

            • Krogoth
            • 15 years ago

            Where are those stories with K8 going beyond 3Ghz on air? IIRC, the highest I have seen yet, with air-cooling with a minor voltage boost is 2.8Ghz for a 3800+ Venice.

            Heat and overclocking the CPU itself isn’t an overclocker’s killer. Overvolting is what tends to kill CPUs prematurely, which you need to do to get stable aggerestive overclocks these days.

            I have heard many stories back with the Northwoods C, that died from overclocking and overvolting needed for it run stable after months of operation. They are even more stories that overclocked CPUs started to loose their stability edge after months of operation. You are forced to cut-back in order to get the system stable again.

    • smallstepforman
    • 15 years ago

    Geez, the performance of these babies (power and speed) is very impressive, cannot wait until they drop below the $300 US price point (for us mortals). I’m interested ni the ability of these babies to work well with mismatched memory sticks (my dual channel corsairs 2x256Mb need more space to store all the bloat in apps today, it would be interesting to see how well it will pair with other memory)

    BTW – great review, as always.

    • Convert
    • 15 years ago

    Ok yes, the x2’s hold their own… But lower end dual configs are a must, especially when Intel is doing it. If AMD can get one in the $300 range I am sold.

    • FireGryphon
    • 15 years ago

    Chalk up another win for AMD, but only if they’re on time getting these things to market. I’m somewhat hesitant to get excited until I can buy one of these babies.

    I agree that AMD needs a 2.0 GHz version of the chip to steal Intel’s thunder on the low end. I wonder what the marketting strategy for AMD is by not doing this, at least immediately.

    Solid review, too.

      • UberGerbil
      • 15 years ago

      It’s called a fab bottleneck. The strategy is to make as much profit from limited production capacity as possible. Why offer a low price chip that will sell like hotcakes if you can’t make enough of them to matter? When AMD gets its new fab going they’ll start targetting the lower price tiers.

      • Krogoth
      • 15 years ago

      AMD doesn’t want to fall into the same hole that financially ruined them back with the bargin-basement priced unlocked Bartons and T-breds. We have to wait till the other Fabs get online so, that AMD can release a dual-core 2.0 part in mass quanities for the $200-300 crowd.

      • Ruiner
      • 15 years ago

      Fab bottleneck or not, binning happens. There *must* be chips that don’t make the cut at 2.2….the chance of ‘getting it right’ should be half of what it is with a single core.
      If AMD were smart, they would ‘make lemonade’ and sell them as 1.8 and 2.0 x2’s.
      [Then we maniacs could overvolt them and watercool them to 2.6×2. heh heh]

      New tech is all about penetrance. The lack of an OS made A64 irrelevant. The lack of drivers and apps continues to.

      If Intel gets duals out ‘relatively’ cheaply, they will again win with a poorer performing product.

      And Rev.E tweaks aside, those duals did really well in games for their clock speeds. Unexpected.

        • Krogoth
        • 15 years ago

        Intel doesn’t care about ethusiast segment for the last time until, their new upcoming non-P4 cores are up and running. 8xx series espeically the 820s are going to sell like hotcakes because, they are geared towards $1000+ OEM systems like Dell. Intel and Dell can afford to devise massive marketing campaign to promote “We are the first guy to introduce Dual-Core technology!” “It can make your internet or whatever twice as fast!”

        Explain why McDs and Burger King are so popular, when people who perfer real food go to restaurants or prepare it themselves? The same companies who also spend tons of $$$$ on marketing and brand recongization?

          • Ruiner
          • 15 years ago

          That’s another reason for AMD to get its foot in the door and blow Intel out of the water performance wise at an equal price point to Intel’s cheap duals.

          And another thing….these damn vaporware prereleases make me want to hold onto my 2.4 gig Barton even longer.

            • Krogoth
            • 15 years ago

            Who are going to buyers of these lower-binned A64-X2s? Ethusiasts? We are just small-fry in the marketplace. Average Joes? They are going to be like “Who is AMD?” “What is an A64?” “Don’t matter, Intel and Pentiums always had work for me.” These guys are where the money is made in the mainstream market.

            The corporate market is already been taken by Opterons. The people who order the systems for their respective companies are usually themselves ethusiasts.

          • Ruiner
          • 15 years ago

          edit.
          dual post

        • Mr Bill
        • 15 years ago

        “And Rev.E tweaks aside, those duals did really well in games for their clock speeds. Unexpected.”

        Its the speed/distance effect. On-chip memory controller and the crossbar switch between the dual cores is much faster than mediation over motherboard distances via a memory controller/chipset.

        • Saribro
        • 15 years ago

        /[

          • Convert
          • 15 years ago

          Tis what I was thinking.

          It would be a disaster if they released the lower binned chips as they rolled off the assembly line since they could never meet demand. It is the same reason why Intel doesn’t start selling their new chips the second the first one rolls off the line, they must have a buffer. With AMD it’s going to take much longer to get that buffer so they might as well sell the rarer (and highly more profitable) chips as they twiddle their thumbs.

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