As we look toward the introductions on September 23rd, some things are starting to become clearer about Athlon64. Announcements from AMD and word-of-mouth all point to the performance of Athlon64 and Opteron being very close if not identical. We also are hearing rumors from the Inquirer and elsewhere that the 754-pin Athlon64 will likely be introduced initially at 2.0GHz, with a revised (and more realistic) Performance Rating that will place it somewhere around 3200+, which is the current highest PR of the top Barton. However, no one has really done much in answering how the Athlon64 will perform compared to current Athlon and Pentium 4 CPUs. While the delay of Microsoft’s 64-bit Windows XP still will not allow us to test 64-bit Athlon64 performance, we do have the tools at hand to give a good idea of what to expect from 32-bit Athlon64 performance when it is introduced in the next few weeks.

When Anand Shimpi first tested Opteron in April, there were only server-based boards available for testing. The single-CPU nVidia nForce3, which has real AGP 8X and Enthusiast-level overclocking options, would not be released for a couple of months. With nForce3 for Opteron now available in the market, and the expectation of a 2.0GHz Athlon64 introduction, we went back to our nVidia nForce3 reference board with an Opteron capable of running 200FSB to see where Athlon64 might land.

With the AGP/PCI lock and FSB overclocking of the nForce3, we were able to reach a stable 2.0Ghz (222x9) at default voltage with our 1.8 Opteron, even though we were running 2GB (512MBx4) of Dual-Channel ECC memory. With full support of AGP 8X, we were also able to use our standard ATI Radeon 9800 PRO for benchmarking.

With the nForce 3 running Opteron at 2.0Ghz with a Radeon 9800 PRO, we had the platform to give our readers a decent preview of Athlon64 performance. So how will Athlon64 likely compare to the best Pentium 4 CPU’s and current Barton processors?

nVidia nForce3 Chipset


View All Comments

  • Anonymous User - Sunday, September 07, 2003 - link

    There are TPC benchmarks out with the new Opteron ship running 64-bit Linux and has gotten very good performance indeed.

    IBMs xSeries 325 is sporting an Opteron.
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, September 07, 2003 - link

    #66 -
    The Opteron and nForce3 require Registered ECC or Registered non-ECC dimms which are not the same as the unbuffered dimms we normally use for testing. It is very hard right now to find Registered dimms, let alone registered DDR400 dimms (the fastest ECC chips in current production are apparently designed for DDR333). The ONLY memory we had available that would work on the nForce3 were 512MB Registered ECC DDR400 modules. Dula-Channel makes that a megabyte. The theory goes that ECC and Registered slow down memory performance a bit compared to unbuffered, which should certainly offset any advantage.

    Our benchmark tests are cumulative, as we certainly can't keep rigs up for every board we test. With a new setup like this and cross-platform data, we sometimes have to compare what we can get to what we already have.

    Socket 754 will be single-channel and able to use regular unbuffered memory, while Socket 940 is dual-channel and requires Registered memory. The rumored Socket 939, scheduled for year-end, will allow use of standard unbuffered memory.
  • Locutus4657 - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    #27 Markets don't lie?? I remember when Rambuses stock was selling at $300/share and was rated BUY BUY BUY. If you're buying your tech prices based on stock values you are in some very seriouse trouble. And just so you know, I've built many an AMD system my self, and only the old "Super 7" systems had any real quirks. The newer Athlons have been problem free for me. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    #58 - hey i hadn't noticed that before. wesley, what's up with 1gb on the Athlon64/Opteron adn only 512mb on the P4??? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    Some of you guys are so remarkably shortsighted it's not even funny. Posts like "haha, AMD still makes the crappier chip, they'll be out of business by this time next year" are foolish.

    If you like Intel, good for you, a strong AMD keeps intel's prices down and keeps the innovation coming. No AMD means we'll probably be paying $1200 for the 3.6 Ghz prescott this time next year, because they won't have to release as often or as cheaply.

    Kudos to AMD, and I wish them nothing but the best.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    low voltage Itaniums may be lower in performance to their big Madison sisters, but they blow everything else out of the water on some industry standard SPEC scores! Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    Could it be that Registered DDR400 ECC Modules are as rare as the Athlon XP 2800+ that was paper launched at 2.25 GHz actual and then jumped quickly to a Barton 2800+ at 2.08 GHz? Or could it be that this is the same misleading stuff that AMD tried to do with their PriceWaterHouseCoopers benchmarks when they used the top of the line nForce platform against a mainstream Intel 845G platform and disabled Hyperthreading saying that it made the P4 slower - on top of that they used software patches that "aren't available for public download" to run their benchmarks on 3-year old benchmark software that was not optimized for the P4. If you look at what AMD has been saying for the past 5 years, they typically overpromise and underdeliver (a.k.a. Athlon FX - remarked Opteron now that Athlon64 will not be able to compete in it's original single-channel design) whereas Intel usually just stays pretty quiet, conservatively underpromises and overdelivers. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    hey all you guys clamoring for linux benchmarks, speak up and mention some good ones for them to run... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    I don't know why people are getting so emotional about intel vs amd. Let there be competition so we the consumers win. If Athlon xp hadn't been so powerful we wouldd not have 3.2 ghz, ht pentium 4 right now. On the other hand if we didn't have a 3.2 ghz p4 there would not be an upcoming athlon 64 fx. The chips with dual channel memory were all supposed to be in the server/workstation market. AMD has realised that the socket 754 chip will not be competitive enough with upcoming prescott and as such has created a new socket 939. I suspect that the socket 754 will go the way of the duron as a celeron competitor while socket 939 will be the flagship chip.
    Regarding the article the reviewer should have made it clear that this was an athlon 64-fx preview not athlon 64.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 06, 2003 - link

    The low voltage itaniums are also low performance. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now