Both AMD and Intel appear to be playing release date games with their latest dual core processors.

Intel's affordable dual core desktop solution, the new Pentium D, officially launched in the middle of last month, but has yet to be seen in the channel.

AMD appears to be joining in on Intel's game and is lifting their NDA on Athlon 64 X2 performance today, instead of waiting until June as they had originally planned. Note that the timing of today's article doesn't mean that there's any change in the Athlon 64 X2 release or shipping schedule. The CPUs still won't be available until Q3 or Q4 of this year, but AMD appears to want to get performance numbers out there as soon as possible; given the impressive performance that we had previewed in our first article, it's not much of a surprise from AMD.

In our first AMD dual core article, we simulated the performance of an Athlon 64 X2 4400+ using an Opteron x75 CPU. This time around, we have two chips from AMD, both officially Athlon 64 X2 processors, to give you a better feel for the actual dual core Socket-939 performance that you'll be seeing later this year.

We've already discussed the pricing and lineup of AMD's Athlon 64 X2 line, but as a quick refresher, here are the tables from our original review:

For starters, the Athlon 64 X2's clock speeds aren't that low compared to the current single-core Athlon 64s.  The top of the line Athlon 64 FX-55 runs at 2.6GHz, only 200MHz faster than the Athlon 64 X2 4800+.  This is in stark contrast to Intel's desktop dual core offerings, which run between 2.8GHz and 3.2GHz, a full 600MHz drop from their fastest single core CPU. 

Today, we'll be taking a look at two CPUs in particular: the top of the line Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and the entry-level Athlon 64 X2 4200+. Both are Socket-939 CPUs and will, when released, work in all Socket-939 motherboards with a BIOS update. For today's article, all tests were run on an ASUS nForce4 SLI motherboard with no changes other than a BIOS update to enable support for the Athlon 64 X2 processors. For the Intel CPUs, we used Intel's own 955X board.  All systems were configured with 1GB of memory and used the same Seagate 120GB PATA HDD and ATI Radeon X850 XT video card.  We used the latest Catalyst 5.4 drivers.  The AMD system used DDR400 with 2-2-2-5/1T timings, while the Intel system used DDR2-667 with 4-4-4-15 timings.

We've talked quite a bit about the impact of dual core on the desktop, but to keep things to the point, if you're interested in knowing a bit more, please take a look back at the following topics:
- The Intangible Dual Core
- Scheduling and Responsiveness
- Characterizing Dual Core Performance
- Dual Core System Impressions
The benchmarks used in this article (including the multitasking tests) are identical to those used in our first AMD dual core article.

Power Consumption: Athlon 64 vs. Athlon 64 X2
POST A COMMENT

104 Comments

View All Comments

  • bcoupland - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    People have been saying that a dual-core processor at the same speed as a single-core one will not speed up games and such, but I beg to differ: In a real-world situation, one would have MS Antispyware and an AV program running in the background, while running a game. Also, don't forget the OS as well as onboard sound, chipset raid, USB, and other various programs. A dual-core cpu, even for single-threaded apps like most games, will pretty much give that game its own core. I am excited to see the dual-cores come out personally. Reply
  • SLIM - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Hey Anand,

    Nice article as always, but why do you think the extreme edition suffers so badly in some of the benches compared to its non-HT brother???

    Is it possible/plausible that some of those terrible results are due to the more cpu intensive apps being saddled on the two logical cores of just one physical core? Do you think bandwidth can really explain the huge drops in performance?

    Oh and thanks for the overclocking results too.

    SLIM
    Reply
  • PetNorth - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    For those talking about multitasking tests. Look at them carefully and not bla bla bla. I mean: X2 4800+ Vs. PEE 840 and X2 4200+ Vs. PD 840.

    So, in these 5 Anand multitasking scenarios:

    X2 4800+ Vs. PEE 840: 2-3
    X2 4200+ Vs. PD 840: 4-1

    And don't forget that Multitasking compiling scenario from Opteron DC review is missing in this X2 review: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?... Another X2's victory.
    Reply
  • philthedrill - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Hyperthreading can be a loss when there are memory bandwidth intensive apps. The P4 implementation shares a the data TLB, which ends up thrashing when you have lots of requests that go to memory from both threads. Reply
  • Brian23 - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Thank you for the overclocking results! Reply
  • Son of a N00b - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    I wont be upgrading to a dual core anytime soon, ill stick with my fx55 on water @3000mgz, but when i do go DC its nice to know there will still be a amd heart at the center. Reply
  • pdr - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Can y'all start adding some linux tests (32- and 64-bit would be nice) on things like dual core? Everybody seems to think that if you want some oompfh in linux you will obviously want to build a mega-box cluster. But I just want to minimize my kernel compiles (yes, I run Gentoo), video processing (transcode, ffmpeg, mencoder, etc) - I don't want to turn my living room into a data center. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    For those of you asking for overclocking results, here's what I've seen:

    Pentium Extreme Edition 840: 3.6GHz was the maximum stable overclock I could obtain with standard air cooling. I had to bump up the voltage by around 5% I believe (it was a while ago so I don't have the numbers fresh in my mind).

    Athlon 64 X2 4200+: The best I could do here was just under 2.6GHz (2.53GHz to be exact). This was with air cooling and no voltage tweaks necessary. I couldn't get it totally stable at 2.6GHz.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Quanticles - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    Anand,

    Could you run the real world tests with a single-core Pentium to compare against the FX-55?

    I'm interested in seeing if there's an issue with how well AMD's platform switches threads. If the Pentium beats out the FX-55 significantly then maybe AMD's platform has trouble switching among huge number of threads. This would mean the X2 would be more suitable for multi-tasking among 2-4 threads where the Pent-D would be more suitable for 6-inf threads.
    Reply
  • nserra - Monday, May 09, 2005 - link

    #61 "hear what you're saying...to me, they don't seem faster but they do seem "smoother". "

    There is an easy explanation what you are saying, for example a game on intel does 50 to 70 fps.
    On AMD 50 to 100 fps.
    Who will be the smoother, the one that appears to be working always at the same speed, because the one that will give you higher differences of performance peaks will of course look "erratic".
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now