Author : Wayne
Date : 14th October 2001
3DVelocity would like to thank AMD
and especially Theresa Zimmer for their help and courtesy in
providing this processor for review.
One: The wait is over...
seems like an age already since the speculation began about
the new version of the Athlon chip. The so-called 'Palomino'
has been on the tip of everyone's tongue for many months now.
Rumor and speculation was fueled even more by the Internet's
essential dynamic; freedom of speech. It wasn't long before
the company's revamped naming procedure was released for public
viewing, and while I would suggest it was known about a tad
too soon for AMD's liking, it certainly did them no harm at
all on the publicity front. I'll explain the naming later in
this review, for now all we need to know is the 1800+ equates
to 1.53Ghz part. AMD gave us glimpses into the future by building
anticipation with the releases of the 'MP' Athlon and the laptop
version of the uprated core, the 'Athlon 4'. The 'MP' (Multiprocessing')
Athlon achieved rave reviews upon it's release proving to be
the fastest multiprocessing solution available despite the lack
of mature motherboard availability. The 9th of October turned
out to be the release date for the XP as some have known for
a fair amount of time now, so, as the section heading suggests...the
wait is over!
The scene is set, the chip is here and what would you know?
The XP found its way to 3DVelocity.com thus starting a series
of exclusive reviews.
Athlon XP; overhyped and underspecified or another winner for
the AMD processing brand? Let's find out...
Two: A new standard?
to begin? I would guess that most people really need to know
what is new in the XP Athlon before they are going to shell
out money on another upgrade. I'll try to explain the main architectural
changes without baffling you with needless company jargon and
explain the changes we need to understand AMD's updated agenda.
It's one that will no doubt cause countless numbers of disagreement
within online communities and printed media alike. AMD's primary
aim is to try to devalue the MHz factor and concentrate on other
factors within the design of the CPU as a reference for performance.
One thing AMD and Intel alike have to agree on is the underlying
principles of CPU performance. Simplistically speaking, performance
of any central microprocessor is measured by an extremely simple
(work per clock cycle) x MHz (clock speed)= A measurement of
'relative performance' )
both Intel and AMD have started to vary the IPC AMD are, rightly
so, stressing the importance of this in contrast to simple frequency
increases. Indeed it's true that Intel chose, strangely, to
break an important convention with the release of the first
Pentium Four CPU's. The actual IPC went down not up as had been
the case before. Every new generation of Intel CPU prior to
the P4 had improved the IPC yet the P4's IPC went down by almost
20%. But Intel's main weapon lies in the naivety of the high
street buyer. It's easy to observe the appeal a 2GHz chip yields
but does it mean higher overall performance? That, if anything,
would be AMD's main message to consumers. Indeed, it seems they
have a great point: The places where performance counts the
most, like servers and powerful workstations, still utilize
relatively lower frequency CPU's. (The IBM 'RS/6000' (450MHz)
would be a good example for this) With game specifications still
barely touching 650MHz has Intel placed too much faith in pure
MHZ? AMD would certainly like you to think so.
In the future consumers may need a different standard to compare
CPU's but what system can be relied upon? AMD wishes to utilize
a standard benchmark against which all CPU's will be compared,
the updated naming policy is the first step to achieving this
standard. After being, somewhat embarrassingly beaten to the
coverted 1GHz mark, Intel are unlikely to downplay the frequency
gap they have created of late. The XP versions of the Athlon
will have to be strong performers to compete, are these chips
up to the challenge laid before them?
Two: Major Changes?