Linux and L2 Cache; Sempron vs. Athlonby Kristopher Kubicki on August 18, 2004 2:29 AM EST
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The first conclusion we came to without even really running any benchmarks. Primarily, the lack of 64-bit addressing on the Sempron 3100+ probably makes a bit of sense; the A64 2800+ and the Sempron 3100+ are both budget oriented processors - it is very unlikely anyone will utilize more than 4GB of memory on either processor. The real payoff of the Athlon 64 processors (the onboard memory controller) is found on both the Sempron and Athlon 64.
We also noted in our analysis that the Sempron 3100+ scored very similar performance marks to the Athlon 64 2800+; and it should. Both processors utilize 1.8GHz clock speeds and 130nm production, but the Sempron 3100+ only runs on half the L2 cache of the 2800+. Again, the only major functional differences we noticed between the two processors was the lack of 64-bit operation (with a few exceptions). That being said, at least on Linux, we cannot vouche for AMD's PR rating since the Athlon 64 3000+ lead the Sempron 3100+ in every single benchmark. AMD states the PR rating only compares the Sempron to the Celeron product line, but since Intel dropped the GHz rating on the Celeron chips months ago, that seems like a moot point.
On a cost analysis, the Sempron 3100+ packs a lot of punch for $130. We lose 64-bit addressing and the additional cache for $20 when compared to an Athlon 64 2800+, but as we saw in our benchmarks the cache only provided significant advantages on database and encoding applications - not something most people generally use a budget CPU for anyway. If you're looking to limit yourself to 32-bit computing on the Linux desktop, the Sempron 3100+ cannot keep up with an Athlon 64 3000+ or even a 2800+. However, the 10% cost savings between the 2800+ and the 3100+ is much better than the 2 to 5% decrease in performance we saw between the two processors.