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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  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 17, 2003 - link

    In response to anonymous "Intel Boy" (biased, biased, biased) you can be in love with Intel if you choose. My experience has been that AMD processors have always been smother running and they run cooler than Intel which increases processor life. The AMD64 is in its infancy. It will get better in the months to come. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    sorry I mean#107 Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - link

    To #117 you wrpote is totally truth but do u think a lot understand it ? thanks anyway :)) Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 06, 2003 - link

    For #4 and other intel fan boys.
    I understand that you are in furious, you think as chip costs higher it is better and you paid much more money for intel and what? It usually is deafeted by AMD again and you feel sorry especially after the scandal with BAPCo where became clear that BAPCO is witing benchmarks for intel to show tham in better lighte heh even in sys marks 2002 which is "broken" and AMD doesn't recognize this bench even in this test which must not be used by anand athlon51fx is better than 3200EE of intel. and I can't understand how u can defend Intel when thic processor has 3.2 Gghzs and is DEAFETED BY 2200Gghz ? more than 1.2 Gghz handicap. I'll never bye intel even in due of this caus here is clear for even the dumbiest donkeey which technologie is better. thats why real computer specialists always prefare AMD and love tham.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 03, 2003 - link

    These benchmark figures appear as if the P4 was used in a single channel setup. Does anybody know if this is correct? Also, ECC DDR-400 chips are very hard to come by, prohibitively expensive, and aren't available with low latencies. I don't think FX systems will be price competitive. What good is the high memory limit when you can only afford 512Mb, or a fast CPU with C3 memory? Too bad. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 03, 2003 - link

    Hi, this is about your Athlon 64 Vs. Pentium 4 article, specifically the use of Quake3 as a CPU benchmark when comparing AMD vs. Intel cpus, as shown on this page

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1884&a...
    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NTI0LDU=
    http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20030923/athlon_64...

    Let me say the article is great, no complaints there. I know it takes alot of work to produce these articles.

    Now, I see two reasons for using a game as a cpu benchmark:
    1) It presents a fair (emphasis on the word 'fair') comparison of the competing cpu architectures and scaling issues.
    2) The game itself is of current interest to the community.

    In your article you already concede 2). Quake3 itself is not relevant as a game to anybody. Quake3-derived games are another matter, and are still popular and certainly relevant. More on these later.

    I believe there is strong evidence that Quake3 does not provide a fair benchmark for comparing *modern* (AthlonXP and possibly Athlon64 as well) AMD cpus vs Intel cpus. The reason being (and let me emphasize that I don't know this as an verified fact, I'm going on what a couple of programmers involved with helping AMD produce optimized game code have told me) that the Quake3 cpu recognition code does not recognize the AthlonXP as an SSE-capable cpu. Not only that, but the 3DNow code in Quake3 is apparently non-functional for this cpu.

    The politics and history behind this are interesting, but probably boil down to the AthlonXP being released well after Quake3, and Carmack being rightly uninterested in patching an old game.

    If this is true, you are benchmarking two equally SSE-capable cpus against each other, using a game engine which enables SSE for the Intel cpu and *disables* SSE for the AMD cpu (apparently there's no simple way to force SSE recognition either), for no valid reason, other than the game is too old to know about the AMD cpu's capabilities. What would be even worse is if this same recognition problem carries over to the Athlon64 (I have no word on this) and to newer Quake3-based games.

    Again, assuming this is true, it removes any rationale for using a 3-year old game that: a) few people play, b) which gives ridiculously high scores, and which c) unfairly handicaps AMD cpus; as a benchmark to be used specifically in comparing AMD cpus vs their Intel competitors in articles such as this one.

    So. Here are the recommendations I, as an interested Hardocp/Anand/Toms reader (and admitted AMD fan) am making to you and your site:

    1) Investigate this matter further, and write an article discussing it. And in particular discuss the relevance of this cpu issue to current Quake3-based games. Assuming there is in fact an Intel bias to Quake3-based benchmarking I think people would be very interested to learn about it. Apparently the SSE issue does indeed carry over to later games.

    2) Assuming there is a bias, discontinue using Quake3 as a cpu benchmark, and especially discontinue it's use when comparing AMD vs Intel cpus. The game will never be patched to fix this issue, and using 3rd party fixes noone cares about is more or less pointless too. I'm referring to the dlls on this page:
    http://speedycpu.dyndns.org/opt/

    This guy is one of the programmers I referred to earlier, and he tells me the dlls do not enable SSE where it really matters anyway. The other was a student working at AMD writing assembly 3DNow code. The best solution is simply to retire this benchmark, just as Q1 and Q2 were retired.

    rms
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 02, 2003 - link

    Not to be a ball buster, but in your paragraph:

    "For starters, at a 192mm^2, the Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX are well above AMD's "sweet spot" for manufacturing. When we last talked with AMD's Fred Weber, 100 - 120mm^2 die size is ideal for mass production given AMD's wafer size, yields and other manufacturing characteristics - and the Athlon 64 is close to twice that size"

    If you calculate it out, the 64FX is closer to 4x the die size of the "sweet spot". 192mm x 192mm = 36864 sq mm. The "sweet spot" is 100mm x 100mm = 10000 sq mm. Sorry, just figured I'd point that out.


    -Kooldino
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 01, 2003 - link

    don't hold your breadth1 as far as ms is concerned the visual studio compilers is still not truly 32 bit let alone be 64 bit. without such compilers you cannot get 64 bit apps

    Even Winxp so claimed to be redisigend from bootom up is not true. Well its desigend from broken pieces on the ground hurriedly glued together. How come you still have a System and a System32 folders in c:\Windows??? Thats the 16bit and 32 bit DLLs. Why the sudden Blue scren of death? Same old problem - confilcts between DLLs.

    Try writing code in Visual STudio and query the WinOS ver - for WinXP you will get WinNT as the response. HOw can a truly ground up redesigned OS behave as such? Beats me?

    Until such time that WinXX OS is truly 32bit or 64 bit you cannot have any true 64 bit apps running.

    The BIOS also have problems. nFOrce2 still buggy and not properly fixed - can you trust nForce3? If those guys cannot fix up nForce2, then nForce3 is gonna have lots more problems.
    Reply
  • Locutus4657 - Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - link

    #32,

    On what exactly are you basing your arguments? You obviously have no experience or knowledge of Win64... If you did you'd realize 64 bit versions of Windows NT date back to NT4 on DEC Alpha hardware... You obviously have no clue what so ever... Try posting a relevant argument next time... Try something based on benchmarks, and heck, next try even putting it into context as to how you use your computer...
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 29, 2003 - link

    all i know is i bought amd stock for less than $5 a few months ago and it's on the way to tripling in value. perhaps i'll use the profits to buy another one of their chips. Reply

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