The competition in the processor market has been fierce ever since the first Athlon processors were released in the fall of 1999. In the time since then, AMD and Intel have each led and followed at different times. We have seen each company develop its strong points and grow. This release marks the next evolution for AMD in an area in which they have been very solid since even before the Athlon's release: budget computing.

Today, AMD is introducing a processor to span the market between their long running Socket A platform and the first Athlon 64 platform, the Socket 754. AMD has quite a lot of experience with these two product lines, and it has been very cost-effective for them to reuse pre-existing technology in a new form at a much lower price point than current generation technology. And based heartily in that philosophy, we present the AMD Sempron line of budget processors.

AMD's Sempron logo

The Sempron processors, as we mentioned in this AnandTech Insider article last month, is AMD's "ron" placement to the Duron processor. The name is derived from the Latin word, Semper (meaning "always"), and the tech suffix -ron (which apparently means "budget processor"). Sempron should fall at a lower performance point than equivalent rated parts from other AMD processor lines. As this processor spans two platforms, it makes sense to compare the new Sempron to both the Athlon XP line of processors and current Athlon 64 processors. And as Sempron is a budget processor, it makes sense to compare it to Intel's budget line of processors.

While we've seen multiple architectures with similar names, to some extent, in the past, consumers will have to know this time around that their Semprons from 2800+ and down work with socket A platforms, and 3100+ and up work with socket 754 or even 939 in the future. Obviously, the pertinent information will be somewhere on the box or product description, but it would be nice if AMD could make this more clear through the name of the product.

We do understand the usefulness in having a single name under which to sell, but we're not quite convinced that the benefits outweigh possible consumer confusion in an already complex marketplace.

In the following pages, we will take a look at our standard budget CPU performance tests. As these processors are designed for budget markets, special attention will be paid to price/performance throughout the article. But first, let's take a look at the silicon behind the name.

UPDATE: The pricing info we recieved was altered at launch. AMD decided to raise their prices by over 17% on the low end (the 2400+ is up to $61 from $52), and between 5% and 6% on the high end (both the 2800+ and 3200+ prices are up $6). These small dollar ammount pricing changes make a large difference on budget processors and impact price/performance analysis quite a bit. Had we recieved pricing information on par with AMD's current numbers, we wouldn't have been quite so enthusiastic about Sempron's price/performance advanatge over Celeron D. At this point, the only price advantage Sempron has over Celeron is the higher availability of cheaper motherboards.

On a positive note, AMD has confirmed our suspicion that the NX bit and Cool'n'Quiet features of Athlon 64 will be available in K8 versions of the Sempron (3100+ and higher). The only A64 feature disabled in Sempron is x86-64.
Two Flavors are Better than One: Socket A
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  • draco8099 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    "Reliability/compatibility hasn't been an issue for a long time. FYI Intel has had 4 recalls in as many years. AMD has never had a recall"

    I agree that AMD chips are reliable... but AMD does NOT make chipsets.

    There where times in the past that I wished VIA or SIS would recall the crap they sometimes produced. Thankfully Nvidia entered the chipset making business.
  • Bonesdad - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    yah, gotta wonder where he comes up with a statement like "along with the added reliability Intel offers...". This clearly comes from someone with no experience with AMD products. I personally have no qualms about either Intel or AMD when it comes to reliability. But if AMD offers more performance/$$ than Intel, I will always choose AMD.
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    T8000, You're kidding right? I'll take an Nforce2 with onboard (asus A7n8x-VM/400 $81) over any onboard intel graphics. We're talking geforce4mx here. It can at least play some games. Intel's integrated graphics doesn't even come close even with the 915G chipset.

    Jeez, up to 3x performance over Intel's integrated graphics...ROFLMAO. You go ahead and buy that Intel integrated crap chipset. BTW the 865/875 is no more current than nforce2. They are both old tech and both decent (uh, except when comparing onboard graphics...nvidia kicks butt here). Last page of toms review: "In addition, motherboards based on the nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset offer more graphics performance than Intel's 865G platform at a similar and sometimes lower price"

    So for $81 (asus a7n8x-VM/400) + Sempron 2800 $120 (which is probably REALLY HIGH...more likely $100 when hits pricewatch or less) we have $200 at most. You said it A P4 can beat it for the same money. Well, as soon as you throw in Intel's integrated graphics it doesn't matter what chip you have...YOU LOSE. But you won't spend less than $200 for a P4 and Integrated board. No way. You'd need a P4 2.4 or better just to cache the chip in speed. The graphics is an absolute loss regardless of choices.

    Reliability/compatibility hasn't been an issue for a long time. FYI Intel has had 4 recalls in as many years. AMD has never had a recall :)
  • Zebo - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    "i'm curious how my 2.5ghz barton compares to say a semperon running at 2.0-2.2ghz "

    Is'nt everyone:)

    Socket754 wise I think a sempron is about 10% faster than the mobileXP's at same speeds so 2.2 would probably equal or beat a 2.5 A-XP......Can't wait:):):)
  • bearxor - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link


    I thought about that angle, and while it should work, the fact of the matter is that mpga478 is about to be just as dead as socket 462. If newer Celeron-D's were LGA 775, you could make a case for a better upgrade path with PCI-e and such.

    I'm sorry guys, but I'm comparing the Sempron 2800+ with the Celeron 335, which runs at 2.8ghz. I'm not going to compare the Celeron to the Socket 754 3100+, as its name clearly states its a 3100+. If there was a Celeron running at 3100 or so, then I could compare them.

    Comparing between the two 2800 classes, there just doesn't seem to be a nail in the coffin. Someone who is going to buy something like this is going to be happy with either one.
  • Zebo - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Derek anything we'd like to see?

    Yes. I'd like to see you using good aftermarket HS.

    Then I think you can get the celeron D to 3.8 to 4.0.

    Also, The sempron 3100 is of most intrest to it's already fast, offers cheap MOBOs like the chaintech, and I think will make 2.6 on air easy due to less cache..

    Not so impressed with the socketA semprons as I think the moblie Athlons are so much better both in overclcoking and perfromance. Anyway it would be cool to throw a 2600moblie in there at 2.6..

  • tfranzese - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    "added reliability Intel offers"

    Where is it? Don't you read the news, Intel now reliably offers chipset recalls and EEPROM updates just for you.

    You're either living in the past or should be on Intel's marketing payroll because you reek of it.

  • tfranzese - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    "For Sempron Socket 752, I think the added cost of getting a suitable mainboard places it in the price range of a Pentium 4, that will outperform it with ease."

    Really, can you back that up?
  • T8000 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    With these small performance differences, I would say $20 more buys you a current Intel DDR-1/AGP platform (i865 + C335) instead of an old AMD platform (nf400 + S2800). Along with the added reliability Intel offers and the very inexpensive optional "Extreme" 2D graphics you can get, I do not think Sempron Socket A is a sensible choice.

    For Sempron Socket 752, I think the added cost of getting a suitable mainboard places it in the price range of a Pentium 4, that will outperform it with ease.

    So I think there is no reason to be so optimistic about Sempron, especially considering the benchmark selection in this review, that might make Sempron look better then it would in the real world.
  • DerekWilson - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Both the K7 and K8 Sempron chips dissipate 62W of power maximally.

    We hear that mobile chips will be coming out with mobile chips which will be in the 25W-30W range.

    I'll update the article with this info.

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