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 - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #10 Without XP64 only Linux apps can give great performance boost over 32 bits apps. Yes, I'm not a gamer, I don't care about UT2K3 or DX9 benchmarks.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link


    i agree. good review, and how anyone could see an AMD bias in that article, i have no idea. he fvcking said repeatedly that AMD isn't really cutting it with the A64/FX. the worst type of fanboy is one that cant read.

    its sad to see AMD lagging like this... if they fall too far behind, they wont be able to compete with Intel on a high-end level at all - which sucks for competition.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    That was a well written review.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #15, doesn't the fact that you can buy an FX51 along with an Athlon64 3200+ at a variety of stores now contradict that statement? I mean someone even said they sighted them in retail stores and the sort across the world before even launch.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    For the non-fanboys out there, I have a couple questions.

    1. Is dual-channel really necessary for the Athlon 64? What is the bandwidth of the Hypertransport bus?

    2. Anand contends: "Ignoring the performance boost Intel gains by going to dual-channel, OEMs demanded a dual-channel solution from AMD simply as a checkbox feature." Do you buy this? I thought CPU manufacturers pushed the mobo guys around, not vice versa.

    3. After launching on two different Sockets (754 & 940) - is AMD going to convert everything over to 939 in '04, or are we going to see high-end on 940 and low-end on 754?

    4. Where are the UT2K3 64-bit version benches?

    5. I know it's kind of hard to judge, but how is the driver support for 64-bit coming along? (As a measure, does anyone know if nvidia and/or ATI will be ready with 64-bit drivers by the new WinXP64 launch?)

    6. This is more of a mobo/chipset questions, but where does PCI Express/3GIO fit into AMD's hypertransport plans?
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    What i really dont understand is this: "AMD has lost a considerable amount of credibility" and again : "AMD has also priced the Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX very much like the Pentium 4s they compete with, which is a mistake for a company that has lost so much credibility"

    What exactly do you mean by that Anand?

  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link


    The FX-51 will not be avaiable in any reasonable quanitities until next year. The availability of any succeeding products is pure speculation.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    I think we'll see the athlon 64 outpacing the p4's in divx encoding once we see a 64bit enabled codec.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    All reviews (with exception of Toms Hardware and x86secret, go figure) show the FX51 outpacing the P4 Emergency Edition in the gross majority of benches. That's not even counting the fact the P4EE isn't even going to be available until November (making this a paper launch) and by it's availability the FX53 and Athlon64 3400+ will have already been out in the market with us looking forward to the FX55 in late 2003 or early 2004.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #4 & #7. Please give me a couple of URLs (not thg) so i can validate your inspired response.

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