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Power Performer or Budget Solution?
Author : Martyn Date : 12th November 2001

3DVelocity would like to thank AMD and especially Theresa Zimmer for their help and courtesy in providing this processor for review.

Part One: Which Corner Of The Market?

When we looked at what the 1.33GHz Athlon could offer us, the market positioning was somewhat easier to determine. At the 'mainstream' or budget end of AMD's CPU model was the Duron CPU. This was heading speedily toward 1GHz and represented just about the best value solution available. At the top end of the market, AMD's primary attack to Intel was the high performing but low costing Athlon. 1.33 and a tad later, 1.4. This made the choice for the cost conscious user who still wanted high perfomance an easy one. With Intel essentially pricing themselves out of many people's range with the Pentium 4, AMD found themselves in an even better position. Indeed many online resources and dealers even started to speculate that a 1.5 and 1.6 GHZ chip was on the way from AMD. It was easy to see why such rumours started to appear. The Athlon was representing not only the 'gamers choice' but also the 'value buyers' choice. Why would AMD release the much anticipated 'Palomino'based chips just yet, when the Athlons were still doing so well?
However, the classic B and C type athlons (200fsb / 266fsb) did stop at 1400MHz. AMD produced a true Intel beater, officially released on the 9th October, the XP and MP range of Athlons have produced as much, if not more, of a storm than the original Athlon did. With a fresh focus, directed at breaking the public's perceptions of using MHz as a valid form of speed comparison, AMD bettered the Athlon and faced up with true confidence to Intel's Pentium 4 series. The XP range of chips are great performers and still represent great value for money but where does that leave our old speed king, the 1.4GHz. It seems to have been replaced by the XP chips but it is very hard to overlook what a great CPU this is. Could the 1.4GHz become the bargain chip of the year? With the new Duron core (Morgan) costing a little more than the old Duron, it will certainly be interesting to see just what price retailers will expect for the Athlon 1.4GHz solution.


Part Two: The Specs'

Most of us have seen Athlon comparisons for quite some time now. It certainly is a great performer on paper at least...

Here we can see a direct comparison between the Athlon technology and the competing Intel based solutions.

-- AMD Athlon vs. Intel's P3 & P4 --

Feature
AMD Athlon Processor
PentiumŪ III
PentiumŪ 4
Operations per clock cycle
9
5
6
Integer pipelines
3
2
4
Floating point pipelines
3
1
2
Full x86 decoders
3
1
1
L1 cache size
128KB
32KB
12k + 8KB Data Cache
L2 cache size
256KB on-chip  
256KB on-chip
256KB on-chip
Total on-chip full-speed cache
384KB
288KB
264KB + 12k
Total effective on-chip full-speed cache
384KB
(exclusive)
256KB
(inclusive)
256KB - 12k
(inclusive)
System bus speed
200 MHz to 266MHz
100MHz or 133MHz
400MHz
3D enhancement instructions
Enhanced 3DNow!
SSE
SSE2
Single-precision FP SIMD
Yes
Yes
Yes
4 FP operations per clock
Yes
Yes
Yes
Cache/prefetch controls
Yes
Yes
Yes
Streaming controls
Yes
Yes
Yes
DSP/comm extensions
Yes
No
Yes

The Athlon certainly has the competitive edge in this comparison, quoted from AMD's website

 

Page Two: Specs cont....
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