First Tests of AMD's Athlon XP 3000+
Advanced Micro Devices has released its newest Athlon XP processor, and a handful of vendors have already snapped up the new CPU that enables AMD to win its game of "cache up" with Intel.
The Athlon XP 3000+, previously
The Sys unit raced in with a score of 137 on PC WorldBench 4--the fastest result of any system to date. The Polywell checked in at 136 and the Falcon at 134.
By comparison, the zippiest 3.06-GHz P4 system we've seen, a $2860 Sys unit with 512MB of 1.066-GHz RDRAM, scored 132 when tested running PC WorldBench 4 only. For this broader round of tests, our comparison systems--three fully-loaded 3.06-GHz P4 systems with 1GB of memory--averaged a PC WorldBench score of 121, with a high score of 127 and a low of 117.
Also for comparison,
The 3000+ systems' average AutoCAD time of 226 seconds trounced the P4 PCs' average time of 273 seconds. The AMD-based PCs also outperformed the Intel-based systems in the Photoshop, Premier 6, Nero, and Unreal Tournament 2003 tests; the P4s prevailed in the MusicMatch and Return to Castle Wolfenstein tests.
AMD is shipping three new Barton-based CPUs: The Athlon XP 3000+ (running at 2.167 GHz), a new XP 2800+ (2.083 GHz), and the first XP 2500+ (1.833 GHz). All three include 512KB L2 cache and a 333-MHz front side bus. The 2800+ Barton-based CPU replaces an existing Athlon XP 2800+ chip that AMD shipped in limited quantities to five PC vendors in the fall of 2002.
The original 2800+ chip runs at 2.25 GHz, which is faster than both its replacement and the 3000+ chip. What gives? "The bottom line is the 2800+ model number is derived from application performance," says AMD spokesperson Damon Muzny. The new 2800+ uses more cache instead of more megahertz to reach a specific application speed level, he adds.
All 2800+ chips shipping in PCs should be Barton-based models by the time you read this, Muzny says. (And chip pricing will be the same, so there's no bargain-hunting opportunity.)
If you're planning to wait until later this year to buy a power desktop,
you'll like what's in store. First, AMD plans to ship an Athlon XP 3200+ model
by mid-2003. But the big news will be the September debut of the oft-delayed
Intel also has several new desktop PC chips lined up, analysts say, though the company doesn't publicly comment on unannounced products. "You should be seeing a 3.2-GHz P4 by April," says Kevin Krewell, general manager at research firm MicroDesign Resources.
Then, look for
"The Prescott processor should have higher frequency and architectural performance (more instructions per cycle) than the existing P4, and should be tough competition for AMD, " he adds.
In the meantime, your best price/performance deal is likely a PC with AMD's Athlon XP 2800+ chip, since system prices are noticeably lower than for 3000+ units (by about $200), but performance is not. And price differences between Athlon XP 3000+ models and 3-GHz P4 PCs can run as high $600.