It was an unexpected addition to the meeting; apparently the call had just been made prior to my arrival. I was standing in front of two systems running AMD "Hammer" processors, clocked at 800MHz, in both 32-bit and 64-bit OSes. Granted the demos that AMD was running involved nothing more than a simple web server and a ball bouncing around the screen, but coming off of the strong launch and execution of the Athlon XP we all had high hopes for this next-generation chip.

Many will remember the aforementioned demo, as it happened almost two years ago just outside the convention center at the Intel Developer Forum; AMD always had a way of crashing the party it seemed. It was at that show that we proclaimed AMD as stealing the show from Intel, criticizing the CPU giant for giving us a fairly lackluster showing at IDF that year.

The AMD from IDF had promised us a chip by the end of the year and given that we had all forgotten about the horribly executed K5 and mediocre K6 deployments, why were we to believe that they would do otherwise? Everyone expected AMD to deliver on their word because prior to Hammer, it was Intel that was coming up short on promises. A series of competitive paper launches in the early days of the Athlon and a poor performing, overpriced Pentium 4 plagued Intel and tarnished their reputation in the community.

Fast forward to almost two years and the Hammer is just finally being released on the desktop as the Athlon 64 and the Athlon 64 FX. AMD has lost a lot of face in the community and in the industry as a whole, but can the 64 elevate them back to a position of leadership?

We've covered the Athlon 64 and its server-brother, the Opteron, in great detail already so be sure to check out our previous coverage for even more information before continuing on here.

AMD Opteron Coverage - Part 1: Intro to Opteron/K8 Architecture
AMD Opteron Coverage - Part 2: Enterprise Performance
AMD Opteron Coverage - Part 3: The First Servers Arrive
AMD Opteron Coverage - Part 4: Desktop Performance
AMD Athlon 64 Preview: nForce3 at 2.0GHz

An Early Christmas present from AMD: More Registers
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  • AgaBooga - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    Where is the P4EE in the memory tests? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    Personally this was rather anti-climatic for me. It's certainly not a Intel killer that all the hype proclaimed. AMD for business, Intel for content, and a throwup for gaming. Same as it has been for awhile. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #27 & #28 (amd fanboy double post)

    It SHOULD be up there with the P4EE because the PRESCOTT will be coming right around the corner! Face it, AMD did not put out a killer and Intel is sitting pretty in 2004.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #20 are you serious? Did you just comment in the forum without looking at the review or did you actually look at the review. AMD is not "lagging" behind Intel. They are right up there with them. Look at the benchmarks and you will see the CURRENTLY AVAILABLE Athlon64 easily matches a NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE P4EE. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #20 are you serious? Did you just comment in the forum without looking at the review or did you actually look at the review. AMD is not "lagging" behind Intel. They are right up there with them. Look at the benchmarks and you will see the CURRENTLY AVAILABLE Athlon64 easily matches a NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE P4EE. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    AMD, Pamela Anderson called. She want's to know how she can get a bust as big as yours. I have two words for AMD- "Segway" and "Scooter." Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    nForce3 performance bug

    Time to re-do the benchmarks, Anand.

    Your FX-51 benchmarks are inaccurate.

    http://www20.tomshardware.com/cpu/20030923/athlon_...

    Nvidia: NForce-3 Bug

    The extremely low AGP performance of the NForce3 can be clearly attributed to problems with the HyperTransport channel interface to the Northbridge. That is proven by the benchmark results and the performance differences of up to 33.2 percent. Details about this can be found in the benchmark section of this article.

    Originally, Nvidia had planned to also integrate a SATA RAID controller in the Southbridge. Although the controller is included in the current NForce 3, Nvidia deactivated this feature. The reason was that error-free operation was not possible. For this reason, we decided to use additional boards based on the VIA K8T800 chipset.

    Nvidia (Athlon 64 FX, or alternatively GeForce FX - related names) may be a more high-profile partner for AMD than VIA. However, we would point out that VIA, with the K8T800 chipset, currently offers a clearly better solution for the Athlon 64.

    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    What is that smell?

    AMD just let loose with a huge turd!
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #4 You may be right (I don't think so but let say you are), but then ask yourself - where is the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition? There is no mention of this CPU at Intel web site at all, there is no datasheet and no batch numbers. Today, it is only a prototype CPU, such as Prescott is. They managed to build few Gallatin B1 cores that are able to work at this frequency and then remarked them. This CPU is not reality, only OEMs can buy it in very limited quantities, but end users can't. I think a 3 GHz Athlon 64 FX on 90nm prototype would perform far the best in this review... and it would be the same policy as with this Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #17 Answers:

    1. Athlon 64's memory controller is very fast as you can see from the benchmarks. Dual channel is only needed in some situations to give decent performance. HT operates at 800 MHz with DDR and 16 bits, thus giving 3.2 GB/s each way (6.4 GB/s). Not so bad for a I/O and AGP interface only bus

    3. S754 is a lower end platform while S940 is an Opteron platform. AMD will introduce S939 early next year and will continue to produce CPUs for all those sockets. S940 A64 FX will, however, disapper in the end of next year.

    6. HyperTransport "Tunnel" system allows for practically unlimited number of chipset combinations, thus a PCI Express will only require to add another Tunnel or integrate it into current chipsets.
    Reply

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