Industry Update - Q4-2004: AMD adds SSE3 Support, Intel's 925/915 not selling and moreby Anand Lal Shimpi on November 3, 2004 1:00 AM EST
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AMD Athlon 64 Revision E adds SSE3 Support
As we discovered most recently, AMD's 90nm CPUs are of a brand new revision that featured a number of bug fixes and performance improvements. Internally AMD refers to this CPU revision as Revision D. However we noticed something very interesting when looking at the latest AMD roadmaps while in Taiwan: the 90nm chips listed as San Diego and Venice (Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64 respectively) claimed SSE3 support as a feature, but the current 90nm chips do not have SSE3 support.
We went around to quite a few manufacturers asking what the difference was between the 90nm chips shipping today and the 90nm chips that supposedly feature SSE3 support, and unfortunately we were left with very little information - until we learned to ask for the right thing.
Internally, AMD's San Diego and Venice CPUs are referred to as nothing more than Athlon 64 Revision E chips. Revision E includes even more bug fixes and performance improvements over those we found in Revision D, including support for the 13 new instructions that were added with Prescott, more commonly known as SSE3.
The performance enhancements that go along with Revision E chips include some optimizations to the Athlon 64's memory controller. The more optimized memory controller improves bandwidth efficiency with regards to unified graphics memory accesses; given that the only type of graphics that uses system memory (and thus the on-die memory controller) is integrated graphics, it's safe to say that the Rev E chips will offer better integrated graphics performance.
The first Revision E CPUs will begin shipping in early 2005. AMD also has plans to introduce an Athlon 64 4200+ towards the middle of 2005; they are not listing whether the part will feature a 512KB or 1MB L2 cache, but it will most likely run at 2.6GHz. The Athlon 64 FX-57 is also listed on the roadmap as a 2H-05 part, it's specifications are also unclear but we'd expect it to be a 2.8GHz part with a 1MB L2 cache. Both the Athlon 64 FX-57 and Athlon 64 4200+ appear to be 90nm parts built on the San Diego and Venice cores, respectively.
AMD's 2005 roadmap did not specifically list anything faster than the 4200+, although the classic "> 4200+" was present on the roadmap to indicate potentially faster parts.
On the Intel side of things we heard the name Cedar Mill thrown around a bit more. In the past some have referred to Intel's dual core Pentium 4 as Cedar Mill, but we now know that is Smithfield. This time we heard Cedar Mill referred to as the first 1066MHz FSB Pentium 4s that aren't Extreme Edition chips. Cedar Mill is supposed to be out in the 2nd half of 2005, which supports a claim we made in our recent review of the Pentium 4 3.46EE: "the 3.46EE will be followed up by the 3.73EE as the only two chips to support the faster FSB for almost a year."
So what does having no mainstream 1066MHz FSB chips until the end of next year mean? It means that Intel is holding out for Glenwood and Lakeport and that Sunday's launch of the 1066MHz FSB was merely a gimmick. The 925XE will be buried as the chipset that offered support for two CPUs that no one bought, while Glenwood and Lakeport will be the knights in shining armor that brought 1066MHz FSB support to all.
Intel seems to have learned from their 925X and 915 chipset launches - multiple fundamental technology changes without performance gains don't go over well. Glenwood and Lakeport will be able to support faster DDR2 (DDR2-667), 1066MHz FSB and dual core support upon their release, not to mention that lower latency DDR2 should be available by then (mid next year) and PCI Express graphics should be much more prevalent as well.