Both AMD and Intel appear to be playing release date games with their latest dual core processors.

Intel's affordable dual core desktop solution, the new Pentium D, officially launched in the middle of last month, but has yet to be seen in the channel.

AMD appears to be joining in on Intel's game and is lifting their NDA on Athlon 64 X2 performance today, instead of waiting until June as they had originally planned. Note that the timing of today's article doesn't mean that there's any change in the Athlon 64 X2 release or shipping schedule. The CPUs still won't be available until Q3 or Q4 of this year, but AMD appears to want to get performance numbers out there as soon as possible; given the impressive performance that we had previewed in our first article, it's not much of a surprise from AMD.

In our first AMD dual core article, we simulated the performance of an Athlon 64 X2 4400+ using an Opteron x75 CPU. This time around, we have two chips from AMD, both officially Athlon 64 X2 processors, to give you a better feel for the actual dual core Socket-939 performance that you'll be seeing later this year.

We've already discussed the pricing and lineup of AMD's Athlon 64 X2 line, but as a quick refresher, here are the tables from our original review:

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 2.8GHz and 3.2GHz, a full 600MHz drop from their fastest single core CPU. 

Today, we'll be taking a look at two CPUs in particular: the top of the line Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and the entry-level Athlon 64 X2 4200+. Both are Socket-939 CPUs and will, when released, work in all Socket-939 motherboards with a BIOS update. For today's article, all tests were run on an ASUS nForce4 SLI motherboard with no changes other than a BIOS update to enable support for the Athlon 64 X2 processors. For the Intel CPUs, we used Intel's own 955X board.  All systems were configured with 1GB of memory and used the same Seagate 120GB PATA HDD and ATI Radeon X850 XT video card.  We used the latest Catalyst 5.4 drivers.  The AMD system used DDR400 with 2-2-2-5/1T timings, while the Intel system used DDR2-667 with 4-4-4-15 timings.

We've talked quite a bit about the impact of dual core on the desktop, but to keep things to the point, if you're interested in knowing a bit more, please take a look back at the following topics:
- The Intangible Dual Core
- Scheduling and Responsiveness
- Characterizing Dual Core Performance
- Dual Core System Impressions
The benchmarks used in this article (including the multitasking tests) are identical to those used in our first AMD dual core article.

Power Consumption: Athlon 64 vs. Athlon 64 X2


View All Comments

  • PetNorth - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    #88 (not 48 lol)

    "Pd (3.2) vs X2 (4200+), Pentium D wins price/ performance"

    What are you talking about?

    PD 3.2 estimated cost is $530 and X2 4200+ estimated cost is $537. Not to mention much more expensive board and DDRII. And X2 4200+ simply smokes to PD 3.2 in basically everything.

  • classy - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Was it possible to drop the multiplier to 11 so we could see the potential performance of a 4400+? Reply
  • PetNorth - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link


    "Pd (3.2) vs X2 (4200+), Pentium D wins price/ performance"

    What are you talking about?

    PD 3.2 estimated cost is $530 and X2 4200+ estimated cost is $537. Not to mention much more expensive board and DDRII. And X2 4200+ simply smokes to PD 3.2 in basically everything.
  • wharris1 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Sorry about my original post inquiring about NCQ; I failed to notice the PATA notation on the Seagate. Having said that, would you consider comparing the multitasking performance with NCQ enabled and disabled on these new dual core X2s? Reply
  • CrimsonChaos - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Nice review. I'm in the crowd of those who can't wait for (AMD) dual-core processors to become available. As far as I can tell, the X2 4800 ran games nearly as fast as the FX-55 and outperformed the FX-55 in multi-tasking. So what reason is there to buy the FX-55 once these are released (assuming prices are close)?

    #84 - I do not think that the background tasks of Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware programs use much CPU. Aside from the initial launching of the program, the CPU usage to keep the program running is minimal -- if any at all. I was under the impression they just ate up RAM while running. Correct me if I'm wrong?

  • psyched - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Anand, was this tested on 32bit version of XP? Wouldn't the #s be even more in favor of X2 should we have the proper drivers and run it under XP x64 OS?

  • DigitalDivine - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    Pricing for the X2 dual cores within amd product like makes sense. 4200+ is a tad faster than the 4000+ only in mutlitasking mode, but then that's why you are buying dual cores anyway, for multitasking multithreading.

    but once you put intel's pricing in the mix, with intel's capacity to just churn out silicon, they can afford to price these much lower. unlike amd, pricing it down to stimulate demand...

    the x2's sit in the happy middle of the Pd, and the PEE, and the pricing shows that.

    Pd (3.2) vs X2 (4200+), Pentium D wins price/ performance

    but X2 (4200+) vs PEE (3.2), X2 wins hands down. which is kinda sad, the 4800+ is not even challenged.

    300 vs 500 vs 1000, those are the competing prices for the chips... so it's a bit hairy to compare.

    now, dual core 256k or even 128k would be welcomed, as we saw performance betwen sempron 3100+ and the a64 2800+, performace with half the cache is negligable. so if amd makes dual cores with 256k cache or even 128k, that could help with the transistor count and keep the total area small. giving amd some slack in cost, and lower power consumptions. (*but that doesn't necessarily mean lower prices to consumers).

    * i can only hope and dream
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    #85... with dueling cores Unreal 3 will suck... the processors will be too busy dueling with eachother to run the game. ;) Reply
  • jkostans - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Awesome article. I was reading an article over on tom's hardware on the X2 where they did a little more intensive power consumption test. Here is a quote which really got my interest,

    "However, there is something that we can't really tolerate: the Pentium D system manages to burn over 200 watts as soon as it's turned on, even when it isn't doing anything. It even exceeds 310 W when working and 350+ W with the graphics card employed! AMD proves that this is not necessary at all: a range of 125 to 190 Watts is much more acceptable (235 counting the graphics card). And that is without Cool & Quiet even enabled."

    I just felt this is something anandtech didn't touch on as thoroughly and should really be considered. I mean a 350w PS will fry or shut down using one of these bad boys in a gaming machine. I wouldn't even feel safe with my Vantec 400w PS.
  • stance - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Anand, Please write article showing what future
    games will be like with duel core cpu's and
    if with bois updates performance might increase.

    future game i.e. UNREAL III

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