The Test

We will be comparing four new processor speeds against the numbers we have already collected over the past few months. Two speed grades will be Athlon 64 (512kB L2 cache parts), and the other two will be FX parts (1MB L2 cache parts). One of the FX parts isn't actually being launched yet, but will be the future FX-55 part. Very fortunately, the FX processors are completely multiplier unlocked, so all I had to do to test FX-55 speeds was to crank up the voltage and multiplier on our FX-53 to 1.55V and 26. Worked like a charm, aside from the issues I experienced across the board.

 Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s):

AMD Athlon XP 3000+
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
AMD Athlon 64 3400+
AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (S939)
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (S939)
AMD Athlon 64 FX53 (S939)
AMD Athlon 64 FX55 (S939)*
AMD Athlon 64 FX51
AMD Athlon 64 FX53
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz EE
Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz EE
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz
Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz
Intel Pentium 4 3.2EGHz

RAM: 2 x 512Mb OCZ 3500 Platinum Ltd
2 x 512Mb OCZ 3200 EL ECC Registered 2:3:3
2 x 512Mb Mushkin ECC Registered High Performance 2:3:2
Hard Drives Seagate 120GB 7200 RPM (8MB Buffer)
Video AGP & IDE Bus Master Drivers VIA Hyperion 4.51 (12/02/03)
Intel Chipset Drivers
Video Card(s): Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800 PRO 128MB (AGP 8X)
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 4.1
Operating System(s): Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards: Intel D875PBZ (Intel 875P Chipset)
FIC K8-800T (VIA K8T800 Chipset)
ASUS SK8V (VIA K8T800 Chipset)
MSI MS-6702E (VIA K8T800 Pro Chipset)

* the FX-55 part has not yet been released, but is on AMD's roadmaps.

In setting up the memory on our 939 pin MSI board, we made sure to disable 2T timing in favor of 1T, as memory bandwidth is greatly increased by doing so (and thus performance is impacted to a significant degree). Memory timings on the two unbuffered memory platforms were 2:2:2:6 using the OCZ RAM.

Testing these processors was a very difficult task, as I had a large number of stability issues. Winstone was run so many times just to get through the benchmark. We covered all the bases we knew how to cover, using a PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 510, a ThermalTake Venus 12 and 2 120mm case fans (on an open system) to make sure we had stable voltage supplies and adequate cooling. Nothing really seemed to make a difference until we noticed that the 3500+ and FX-55 benchmarks were "easier" to run. This seemed to indicate that the motherboard wasn't supplying enough voltage to the CPU, as the increased voltage added stability to the FX-55 and the 3500+ was just an underclock. This theory wasn't explored completely, as Computex beckons. To be fair, our own Wesley Fink tested a system that was completely and utterly stable from underclocks to overclocks and everything in between using the exact same versions of components across the board. The conclusion we have come to is that we had a "motherboard issue", though we wish we could be more specific. The important thing is that we got all the benchmarks done, and based on Wesley's experience and the time between now and availability, we don't expect there to be any of these kinds of issues. Of course, we'll definitely keep abreast of the situation.

The Chips SYSmark 2004
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  • Pumpkinierre - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    That earlier french review couldnt get 4 DS sticks to work at DDR400:

    http://www.x86-secret.com/articles/cpu/s939/s939-3...

    Still, I'd sooner have the dual bank memory than the extra cache. But if it is $800 and $600 then the Skt754s become good buys.
    Reply
  • intercollector - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    #6 - With memory prices where they're at now, the more dimms the better.

    For example, if you were to be building a system right now, you'd be hard pressed to justify getting anything more than 1GB (2X512). This fills up 2 slots already, thus only allowing 1 free slot for upgrade in the future. If you were to upgrade with another 512 stick, you'd have 1.5GB, but all your spots filled. If you want this system to last a while, that might just not do.

    I say that 3 is definately the minimum you'd ever want, and wanting 4 is definately not out of the question.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    #5 - Is running four unbuffered DIMMs really that necessary? I mean... I haven't ever had more than two DIMMs since my 486, which technically didn't have any DIMMs... but it had 4 one MB SIMMs. Reply
  • mechBgon - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    One potential benefit to the Socket939 platform is that it should open the door to running four unbuffered DDR400 DIMMs. Reply
  • JGF - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Hmm, now Toms is reporting the $700US+ price of the 3800+ as well. This had better not be true. Roughly $50 seperating the FX line and the 'regular joe' A64 line?? Please AMD, tell me this isnt right... Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Well well well... looks like socket 939 isn't really worth waiting for, especially if it's priced a lot higher than socket 754. Socket 754, here I come :) Reply
  • JGF - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    Good read. Couple of disappointments (though not neccessarily wesley's fault):

    1. Pricing/availability - supplies of 939 parts are rumored to be VERY constrained and some quarters are even uttering the dreaded p-phrase (paper launch). Also early listings for the 3800+ are placing it at an astronomical $700US+ which is obviously bunk. SAtill we are without any official statement regarding price and availability.

    2. No 3700+ scores or even a word with what is happening there. With the rumored constraints on 939 and the fact that PCI-E from VIA or nvidia wont be around until late summer, I'm actually seriously looking into a 3700+ 754 system. When will we get info?!?
    Reply
  • dvinnen - Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - link

    hmmm, 30 mins after the nda ended. Yall need to get on the ball. Reply

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