Introduction

The competition in the processor market has been fierce ever since the first Athlon processors were released in the fall of 1999. In the time since then, AMD and Intel have each led and followed at different times. We have seen each company develop its strong points and grow. This release marks the next evolution for AMD in an area in which they have been very solid since even before the Athlon's release: budget computing.

Today, AMD is introducing a processor to span the market between their long running Socket A platform and the first Athlon 64 platform, the Socket 754. AMD has quite a lot of experience with these two product lines, and it has been very cost-effective for them to reuse pre-existing technology in a new form at a much lower price point than current generation technology. And based heartily in that philosophy, we present the AMD Sempron line of budget processors.



AMD's Sempron logo


The Sempron processors, as we mentioned in this AnandTech Insider article last month, is AMD's "ron" placement to the Duron processor. The name is derived from the Latin word, Semper (meaning "always"), and the tech suffix -ron (which apparently means "budget processor"). Sempron should fall at a lower performance point than equivalent rated parts from other AMD processor lines. As this processor spans two platforms, it makes sense to compare the new Sempron to both the Athlon XP line of processors and current Athlon 64 processors. And as Sempron is a budget processor, it makes sense to compare it to Intel's budget line of processors.

While we've seen multiple architectures with similar names, to some extent, in the past, consumers will have to know this time around that their Semprons from 2800+ and down work with socket A platforms, and 3100+ and up work with socket 754 or even 939 in the future. Obviously, the pertinent information will be somewhere on the box or product description, but it would be nice if AMD could make this more clear through the name of the product.

We do understand the usefulness in having a single name under which to sell, but we're not quite convinced that the benefits outweigh possible consumer confusion in an already complex marketplace.

In the following pages, we will take a look at our standard budget CPU performance tests. As these processors are designed for budget markets, special attention will be paid to price/performance throughout the article. But first, let's take a look at the silicon behind the name.

UPDATE: The pricing info we recieved was altered at launch. AMD decided to raise their prices by over 17% on the low end (the 2400+ is up to $61 from $52), and between 5% and 6% on the high end (both the 2800+ and 3200+ prices are up $6). These small dollar ammount pricing changes make a large difference on budget processors and impact price/performance analysis quite a bit. Had we recieved pricing information on par with AMD's current numbers, we wouldn't have been quite so enthusiastic about Sempron's price/performance advanatge over Celeron D. At this point, the only price advantage Sempron has over Celeron is the higher availability of cheaper motherboards.

On a positive note, AMD has confirmed our suspicion that the NX bit and Cool'n'Quiet features of Athlon 64 will be available in K8 versions of the Sempron (3100+ and higher). The only A64 feature disabled in Sempron is x86-64.
Two Flavors are Better than One: Socket A
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  • bupkus - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    As #12 points out, power consumption and heat generation are concerns as "all onboard" mainboards lean me to MicroATX and SFF in my future builds. Reply
  • Falloutboy - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    sweet might be making a switch to a sempron 3100 soon....

    might be nice in your overclocking matchup to compare them to the the mobile bartons in terms of performance. i'm curious how my 2.5ghz barton compares to say a semperon running at 2.0-2.2ghz
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    P.S. Is the Sempron 3100+ multiplier-locked? As some mentioned, overclocking capabilities would be good to know. :) Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Personally, I'd like to see how the Sempron 3100+ compares with the Athlon XP 3200+. Plenty of folks are on the edge about whether to hang on to their Socket A mainboard through one more upgrade, or bite the bullet. As I just bought an Athlon XP-M and have it running stably at 2.4GHz (12 x 200), which would probably equate to about Athlon XP 3300-3400 speeds if one existed, I'd like to know if the advanced memory controller would be worth my while, or if I might as well wait until the Athlon 64 platform becomes more mature and Socket 939 CPU prices come down. Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    #18,

    I never said you can't buy AMD boards in the $40 range. I simply pointed out an error in the article. The only fanboy-like posting here is yours.

    btw, it would be very hard for me to be an Intel fanboy when my main rig is powered by XP-Mobile 2400+ and my home file server is an Athlon 700MHz.
    Reply
  • RyanVM - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    If you're planning on upgrading your DivX version to support SSE3 anyway, you might as well go straight to 5.2 and wipe the slate clean. Reply
  • ViRGE - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    #11, what would be the point of comparing them at equal clock speeds? The Sempron has the IPC advantage, so it would just blow the Celeron out of the water. Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    OMG I love it when all the fanboys come out.

    Yea and there are AMD boards in the $40 range also, etc... So stop whinning.

    The Sempron is faster and cheaper then a Celeron, get over it.
    Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    ECS 865PE-A is $46 shipped on newegg, and it has SATA.

    Really, the Price/Performance analysis should be redone considering there's not a $20 delta between AMD and Intel mobos, and the Sempron 2800+ should be compared to the Celeron D 330. Not to mention the difference in retail / 1000 units prices, like #14 mentioned.
    Reply
  • Resh - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    When will these be available @ retail? Reply

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