Earlier this month, Intel introduced their first dual core desktop CPUs - the Pentium D and the Pentium Extreme Edition.  Coupled with extremely aggressive pricing designed to move the majority of the desktop market to dual core within the next two years, Intel's launch did not cease to impress.  The ability to bring workstation class performance in multithreaded and multitasking environments to the desktop, at an affordable price, is something that we've been hoping for for years.  Intel's launch was pretty interesting, but today, AMD has more bang.

From the beginning, AMD has talked about how they were going to bring dual core to the K8 architecture.  The on-die north bridge, a part of every Athlon 64 and Opteron CPU, was designed from the ground up to be able to support multiple cores.  AMD had designed their first dual core K8 CPUs years ago. They were simply waiting for manufacturing processes to mature in order to actually make producing such a chip a feasible endeavor. 

With their 90nm process finally maturing, it made business and financial sense to introduce their first dual core products.  AMD wasn't alone in their decision, as it's obvious that Intel waited for 90nm before making their move to dual core as well.  The problem for both AMD and Intel is that at 90nm, a dual core chip is getting a bit on the large side.  Intel's first dual core CPUs weigh in at 230 million transistors on a 206 mm2 die, and AMD's new CPUs are a bit obese themselves at 233.2 million transistors on a 199 mm2 die.  While the dual core CPUs that we have tested from both AMD and Intel are no slouch, it's clear that both companies are working to transition to 65nm as quickly as possible to make manufacturing these chips much more reasonable.

Although this may seem like a tangent to the topic at hand, manufacturing has a lot to do with today's announcements from AMD.  What exactly is being announced?  Well, for starters, AMD is announcing their first dual core Opteron parts.  The word "announcing" in this sense means that they are declaring availability of their 800 series dual core Opteron CPUs, and promising that 200 and 100 series dual core Opteron CPUs will be made available starting next month.  Before we move on to the rest of the announcement, pay very close attention to the parts for which AMD is announcing availability - the 800 series parts.  The Opteron 800 series CPUs are for use in 4 or more socket servers and are AMD's most expensive CPUs, and thus, their lowest volume CPUs.  Remember that at 90nm, AMD can produce around half as many dual core CPUs as they can single core CPUs per wafer - so they need to be very careful about demand.  You will notice later on in this article that AMD's strategy involves keeping prices higher and introducing lower quantity CPUs first, in order to ensure that their single core CPUs still have a market and that they aren't committing to more than what they can deliver.  At the end of the day, AMD is still a much smaller manufacturer than Intel and thus, they have to play their cards very differently, which leads us to the second part of AMD's announcement today: the new dual core desktop Athlon 64 X2 line.

The Athlon 64 X2 will be AMD's new brand for dual core desktop CPUs.  This line is being talked about today, but an official announcement with full benchmarks won't come until June.  That being said, we have made it a point to bring you a preview of Athlon 64 X2 performance in this article, despite the fact that AMD isn't introducing the chips for another two months.  So, for all of you who are interested to see how AMD's dual core desktop CPUs stack up against the recently introduced Pentium D, never fear, we have what you're looking for. 

The introduction of the Athlon 64 X2 brand also comes with a few other tidbits of information:
  1. The Athlon 64 4000+ was the last single core member of the Athlon 64 line.
  2. The Athlon 64 FX will continue as a single core CPU line, with the FX-57 (2.8GHz) due out later this year.
This article will serve two purposes. First and foremost, we're interested in the new dual core Opterons as a server solution - and we run them through our usual web and database serving tests.  Next, we're going to take a look at the Athlon 64 X2 and how it compares in performance to Intel's recently announced Pentium D.  We've developed even more desktop multitasking tests for this article, so we'll be able to provide you with an idea of how well AMD will be able to compete in the multi-core world. 

We are missing a look at workstation performance between the Opteron and Xeon, but rest assured that such a comparison is in the works.  The usual mix of very limited time and hardware problems (which we will also discuss in this article) forced us to exclude one of the comparisons, and thus, the workstation comparison will have to wait for another day. 

A Look at AMD’s Dual Core Architecture
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  • MDme - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    #133

    i think what #130 was saying was that: from top to bottom, AMD's offerings are really good...if you want the best "bang for the buck" the 3400+ or whatever, or a 3000+ winnie OC'd will provide you with the best performance per dollar you spend...EVEN against the X2's.

    On the other hand if cost is not an issue, an X2 4400+ provides extremely good performance for people willing to pay the $500 premium.

    Zebo's point is in direct response to your point, which is AMD "STILL" has the best bang for the buck, not intel.

    or maybe YOU missed the logic? LOL
    Reply
  • MPE - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    "Intel is just lucky a 3400+ new castle wasn't in that test suite. It's would win the majority of tests over an 830!! and it's still cheaper. Or did you miss this chart? LOL"

    Why not just admit it. AMD's DC is about 10-20% faster while costing 80-100% more.

    Even if the 3400+ is added, that comparison is moot since if you compare the score of that to the price of AMD's own DC - the price performance ratio is stagerrring? Or did you miss that logic?

    Anyways did you miss the part that even AMD DC was being beaten by their own single core.

    Next.
    Reply
  • nserra - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    "The Athlon 64 4000+ was the last single core member of the Athlon 64 line.
    The Athlon 64 FX will continue as a single core CPU line, with the FX-57 (2.8GHz) due out later this year."

    Where did you get this info anand, i am not sure if an Athlon64 X2 4400+ could not coexist with a Athlon64 4400+. If this is the last 4000+ than i must say gee thats too bad....
    Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    #125

    Techreports review is better for you. 64-bit OS, 64-bit apps when possible, no mystery unreproducable benchmarks like Anand's database stuff.
    Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    MPE BS, Intel is just lucky a 3400+ new castle wasn't in that test suite. It's would win the majority of tests over an 830!! and it's still cheaper. Or did you miss this chart? LOL
    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/cpu/amd/athlon...

    Intels DC chips can hardy compete with AMDs single core offerings. Side by side both DC it's a joke.

    So ya, AMD still has the "best bang for the buck" top end to bottom end. And they a far on top of the mountain.
    Reply
  • MPE - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Isn't the shoe on the other foot?

    For several years now, so many touted AMD's cheaper price and competative pricing.

    Now with Pentium4 D, especially with the 3GHz model, you get half the price of the cheapest X2 while probably at best 20% lower performance?

    What happened here?

    Now P4D 3GHz model is the best bang for the buck and not the AMD offering. This is a complete reversal of what a lot of AMD supporters have been touting?
    Reply
  • ceefka - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    #125 Yeah, good point.

    Compare:
    A. singletreaded 32-bit app on a singlecore
    B. multi-threaded 64-bit app on a dualcore
    Considering that multithreaded apps already see such large gains on dualcores, going 64-bit too could well mean a more than 100% improvement from A to B.

    But of course, NO ONE needs dual core, 64-bit and +4GB memory in the next 5-10 years :P

    The ball now lies with MS and (Linux) app developpers to write more stuff in multithreaded 64-bit code. From what I hear and read it is not so much the 64-bit part as it is the threading that is a real challenge, even for veterans.
    Reply
  • Ross Whitehead - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    Visual, On P.12 I was referring to the closest Xeon competitor to the 252s which is the Quad Xeon 3.6 GHz 667 MHz FSB.

    Does that make any more sense?
    Reply
  • Ross Whitehead - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    jvarszegi, the actual stored procs are not prefixed with "sp_", we just used that as part of the "analogy" to the real system.

    One could also argue that we did not prefix the analogy example with the object owner either which also incurs a cache miss.

    Honestly, I have never quantified the expense of the sp_ prefix or the object owner.
    Reply
  • Binji7 - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    Where are the dual-core Windows x64 and Linux x64 benchmarks?? That's what I really want to see.

    Reply

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