The Lineup - Athlon 64 X2

As we mentioned earlier, the Athlon 64 X2 isn't going to be officially launched until June.  While AMD is purposefully vague in their discussion of availability, it looks like their plans are for system builders and OEMs to offer Athlon 64 X2 systems in Q3 of this year and for retail availability to be in Q4 of this year. 

For AMD, the Athlon 64 4000+ was the last single core Athlon 64 that they will make; all model numbers after 4000+ will be dual core Athlon 64 X2s.  Starting at 4200+ and going up to 4800+, the Athlon 64 X2 continues AMD's trend of basing model numbers on clock speeds and cache sizes.  You can see the breakdown below:

For starters, the Athlon 64 X2's clock speeds aren't that low compared to the current single-core Athlon 64s.  The top of the line Athlon 64 FX-55 runs at 2.6GHz, only 200MHz faster than the Athlon 64 X2 4800+.  This is in stark contrast to Intel's desktop dual core offerings, which run between 2.8 and 3.2GHz, a full 600MHz drop from their fastest single core CPU. 

The other major difference between AMD and Intel's dual core desktop approach is in pricing. Let's take a look at the cost per core of the Athlon 64 X2:

We see that AMD's desktop pricing is much more reasonable than their dual core Opteron pricing, but then again, also remember that their desktop CPUs won't be in volume until later this year.  The second core never costs more than the first one, which is honestly the only way you can ensure good desktop adoption rates. 

That being said, let's compare it to Intel's pricing:

Because Intel is only shipping lower clocked dual core CPUs, Intel's chip prices are much lower - not to mention that Intel's manufacturing abilities far exceed those of AMD.  Percentage-wise, the Pentium D 3.2 commands a high premium for that second core, but the prices are overall quite reasonable.  The fastest Pentium D is still cheaper than the slowest Athlon 64 X2 4200+, and the slowest Pentium D is ridiculously cheap compared to AMD's dual core offerings. 

AMD's answer to Intel's aggressive pricing is two-fold. Eventually, all of AMD's CPUs will be dual core, and thus, prices will be driven back down to single core levels. But for now, AMD feels confident enough that their single core CPUs are fast enough to compete with Intel's low clocked Pentium Ds.  We put that exact thinking to the test in Part II of our Intel dual core preview and concluded that it really depends on what type of a user you are. If you tend to multitask a lot or run a lot of multithreaded applications, then a slower Intel dual core is what you need; otherwise, a faster single core AMD is your best bet. 

The Lineup - Opteron x75 Dual Core Server Performance: AMD’s Opteron x75 Series


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  • Nighteye2 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Small observation: in the article DDR2 is mention as a solution to AMD memory bandwidth, while in the news posts there's a bit about AMD skipping DDR2...

    Anyway, that being said, it's looking good...I wonder how long until there'll be sub-300 A64 X2's available? ^_^

    Also, about the hardware problems...isn't running a dual-socketed MB with a single CPU asking for trouble?
  • Spacecomber - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    I really enjoyed taking a look at what you could bring us about these upcoming Athlon dual core processors. It looks like dual core will be the future for all of us, at least at some point.

    Just a quick comment on the price comparisons that you provided between the dual core opterons and their single core predecessors, I found it interesting to compare prices on the basis of the number of cores.


    Opteron 248: 2x$455=$910
    Opteron 174: $999

    Opteron 848: 4x$873=$3492
    Opteron 275: 2x1299=$2598

    Assuming the performance scales simply based on the number of cores involved, the pricing of the new dual core opterons looks more attractive.

  • Quanticles - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    pwnt Reply
  • fishbits - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    It's odd that some picture game developers immediately supporting the PhysX chip as soon as it's available, but think they'll drag their feet to take advantage of another whole CPU core at their disposal.

    Maybe that will be the reality though, as MT programming is supposed to be a lot harder. Still, to be able to get a game out the door that blows away any of the competition, it might happen sooner than we think. And I could see how Intel would want to push this along to help their sales, and might contribute resources towards making it happen. "OMG, that new game is great, but it totally rules on a new dual core rig! Saw it at my friend's house the other day!"

    Who knows, maybe games'll gobble up that second core so fast, it won't be long before we complain about how sluggish the system is when multi-tasking, and that we're shutting down background processes, anti-virus, etc all over again. "We need quad core!" :P
  • Aenslead - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Ah, well... most of you are forgetting something: sure, the chip's cost is almost 50% higher than the cheapest Intel offer, however, to use a Pentium D, you require a new motherboard (i955x @ 180USD, probably... nF4 IE @ 200USD), AND DDR2 memory... plus, if you have an AGP card, the PCIe video card as well. That's about 650USD for the whole Intel upgrade. AMD, on the other side, is just the processor, which ends up being FAR cheaper.

    And that is all I have to say about that.
  • Jep4444 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    the X2 4400+ does not parralel to the 3500+, it parallels to the upcoming socket 939 3700+(which a 939 4000+ could be underclocked to compare)

    the 3500+ would be best compared to a X2 4200+

    the X2 4600+ is dual 3800+ and the 4800+ are dual 4000+
  • xtknight - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    It's too bad that gamers or people that don't multitask are basically left in the dark (extra-performance-wise) by dual-core. I'm not going to break the bank for something that's going to give me less performance than I already have.

    There's multitasking and then there's multitasking. One kind is having a main program up that gets most of the CPU's attention and another BitTorrent or whatever that's taking up <5% CPU. Usually I'm not trying to encode a video while I play a game, which would be the other type of multitasking. Only the second kind would greatly benefit from these new CPUs, which is a shame. In the first multitasking type I talked about, dual core will improve responsiveness but not raw processing performance.

    Does this mark the end for single-threaded performance? Programmers will have a hell of a time creating dual core-beneficial applications, unless by nature the program would benefit from it (i.e. a game server browser, or an AI-heavy game). If the PhysX chip comes through, dual-core won't help too much with physics either. The only benefit that would ever see the light of day for me is the fact that the rest of my system isn't lagged while something else is taking up 100% CPU. For example I could still move my mouse and use Windows Explorer while I'm compressing some files with WinRAR. Even then these scanarios don't come up too often for me personally.

    When it comes to raw number crunching performance, the dual-core CPUs don't show any improvement over single-core ones. Sadly enough I think it's going to take forever for programmers to multi-thread their applications. That being said, any program I make from now on will be multithreaded as much as possible.
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Nice review as usual :-)

    ...but I do have one complaint. I would like to have seen a top of the line Intel single core CPU (there were no single core P4s in your tests) compared to "X2 4400+" and a 3500+ 939 Athlon 64 which runs at the same 2,2 GHz as the "X2 4400+" to see a direct effect of the second core instead of the 2,4 GHz 3800+.

    Some multitasking tests were a bit weird, dare I say unrealistic, but OK for starters. The way I multitask is usually a bunch of IE windows (12 ATM), one folding at home client, 3 - 6 bittornado clients, 1 or 2 (sometimes more) word documents, 1 or 2 (sometimes more) excel documents, outlook express, possibly Photoshop CS, a bunch of Windows Explorer windows, few notepads, some winzip/winrars every now and then, windows media player playing MP3s, Kaspersky antivirus, a dictionary, ACDsee from time to time, Opera with a few open tabs if IE isn't right for the job, ... and I rarely play any games anymore. OK I think that's it. This is not at all uncommon for me, so I'm really looking forward to dual cores, I'm just very sorry that AMD can't offer anything at a competitive price, so instead of going for a Socket 939 from a socket 754, I might go for an Intel platform. I don't know jet, a lot depends on how hard those PD are too cool. No word on that yet from you. I wonder why?
  • morcegovermelho - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    At AMD site:

    Hypertransport Links:

    152 - (3 links - 0 coherent links)
    252 - (3 links - 1 coherent link)
    852 - (3 links - 3 coherent links)

    that means they are different. Time to change page 3? ;)
  • SLIM - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Nice review AT. One small suggestion would be to compare one x75 to two 248s to see the effects of memory bandwidth as well as having two cores communicating directly with each other.

    BTW, that's pretty damn funny that you have to install new circuit breakers and outlets just to power up the zeons.

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