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AMD Athlon 64 & FX CPU processor. We take a look at the AMD Athlon 64 & FX CPU processor & compare performance & overclocking potential. AMD Athlon 64 & FX.

AMD Athlon 64, FX review, page 2.

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AMD Athlon 64 & FX CPU processor.

Lets start with a couple of AMD glossy pictures. The AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Athlon FX.

AMD now lead the field in computer processor design with this new range of processors using the K8 or Hammer architecture which evolved to the Opteron processor.

These AMD processors now bring us into the next generation of computing as they are capable of running both 32 & 64-bit software. Intel on the other hand have nothing at present to offer. We are in that time period of change which will last a few years where we have and use our existing 32-bit software while progressively buying new 64-bit software as it becomes available and at a decent price.

The Athlon 64 CPU processor is for mainstream desktop use while the Athlon FX is for top performance. In October you can expect a mobile version to appear. The flag ship at the present is the Athlon FX-51 running at 2.2GHz while the mainstream Athlon 64 3200+ runs at 2.0GHz, (this is 10x the HyperTransport clock).

The Athlon 64 FX CPU processor has dual-channel memory interface and three HyperTransport ports compared to the standard Athlon 64 which only has a single-channel memory interface and one HyperTransport port which means that for dual processor setups you need the Opteron.

Now our quick guide of Athlon & Intel Pentium 4 processors.

Quick CPU processor reference guide.

AMD Athlon 64 FX
AMD Athlon 64
AMD Athlon XP
Barton core
Intel Pentium 4
Northwood core
 Socket pins
Socket A
Socket 478
 Core technology
0.13 micron SOI
0.13 micron SOI
0.13 micron
0.13 micron
 Die size
193 mm2
193 mm2
101 mm2
146 mm2
105.9 million
105.9 million
54.3 million
55 million
 Memory Controller
No, on motherboard
No, on motherboard
 L1 cache size, clock
128KB, core clock
128KB, core clock
128KB, core clock
8KB, core clock
 L2 cache size, clock
1MB, core clock
1MB, core clock
512KB, core clock
512KB, core clock
 Memory Type
Registered up to PC3200 (DDR 400)
Regular unbuffered up to PC3200 (DDR 400)
 64-bit & 32-bit support
32-bit only
 Total bandwidth

AMD Athlon 64 & FX sockets.

Here you see the AMD Athlon 64 754-pin socket.

In comparison here is the Athlo FX 940-pin socket CPU processor which is the same as the Opteron.

Obviously they are not interchangeable.

The Athlon 64 CPU processor uses the more usual organic packaging while the Athlo FX uses a ceramic package. Both are fitted with heat spreaders as with the Intel Pentium 4.

AMD Athlon 64 core is to say the least impressive.

Over 50% of the area is taken up with the 1MB of L2 cache memory on the right.

The design is very similar to the old Athlo CPU processor core and the integrated memory controller is where the L2 cache would be on the Thoroughbred.

With AMD HyperTransport serial data links instead of using FSB it can punch data through at a rate of 3.2GB/s and with data running in both directions simultaneously it has 6.4GB/s of bandwidth. The Intel Pentium 4 at 533MHz FSB CPU processor has a maximum data transport of 3.97GB/s but not in both directions at the same time unlike the Athlo 64.

A great improvement with these new AMD Athlon 64 CPU processor is that the memory controller is now part of the core instead of being in the North bridge chipset. This reduces latency and consequently increases performance. It is also running at the same core speed.

AMD Athlon 64 CPU processor use AMD's HyperTransport to interface with the North & South bridges instead of through the old FSB and run at up to 800MHz DDR (or effective 1,600MHz) which gives a maximum of 6.4GB/s bandwidth.

The Athlon 64 have an increased CPU processor stage pipeline from 10 to 12-stages (Intel Pentium 4 has 20-stages). There are core architecture improvements making up for the slight loss of performance with the deeper pipeline. Having a small pipeline means that AMD CPU processor can do more instructions per clock-for-clock than the Intel Pentium 4, but having such a deeper pipeline partly enables the Pentium 4 to run at higher speeds.

The Athlo FX basically uses the Opteron CPU processor core with its memory controller but with DDR400 (PC3200) support. Unfortunately it needs registered or buffered DIMMS unlike the regular AMD Athlo 64 CPU processor that needs only the usual unbuffered DIMMS.

AMD Athlon 64, FX review, page 2.

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