Final Words

Now armed with final silicon, our stance on AMD's Athlon 64 X2 doesn't change at all - AMD clearly has the faster overall dual core desktop solution, but at a price that will be out of reach for most users. Eventually, AMD's pricing will fall to a level that is far more reasonable, but unfortunately, that time won't be until 2006 at the earliest. We've already looked at the slow dual core vs. fast single core debate, but be prepared to be put in that very position later this year as both AMD and Intel bring their dual core CPUs to market at very different price points.

What we did find interesting was that while AMD generally maintains a large performance advantage in single threaded applications, our multitasking scenarios were a mixed bag of results between AMD and Intel. The multitasking gaming tests were obviously very strongly in favor of AMD, but the general usage tests were more mixed between AMD and Intel. In many cases, Intel's Pentium D actually pulled ahead in terms of performance.

Also, in our multitasking tests, there were a couple of cases where we saw no major performance difference between the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ and 4200+. It was mostly in the single application (both single and multi-threaded) that we saw the most noticeable performance difference between the two CPUs.

The other thing we continue to see is that dual core with Hyper Threading in these multitasking environments is very much the double-edged sword. There are some situations where having both Hyper Threading and dual core gives Intel a huge performance boost, but there are others where the exact opposite is true. As it currently stands, we're not sure how much of a future Hyper Threading will have in future Intel architectures - but it's definitely not a sure win.
In terms of availability, AMD is encouraging all reviewers to mention that the Athlon 64 X2 will be available starting in June. However, that availability in June will only be through select system builders, probably very similar to Intel's current dual core "availability". Widespread availability of the Athlon 64 X2 won't be until Q3 or Q4 of this year, and we aren't sure when we'll see widespread Pentium D/Extreme Edition availability either. AMD did deliver on their promise and is making sure that dual core Opterons are out and available for the enterprise markets, however.

With the last of our product-specific dual core previews out the door, now we all play the waiting game. But with both AMD and Intel pushing dual core heavily, we can only hope that the wait won't be too long - especially from the standpoint of improving software support for dual core systems. Today, we're able to show some very tangible performance gains for dual core CPUs in multitasking usage environments, but in the future, single application performance should get a very tangible performance boost as well.

Gaming Multitasking Scenario
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  • 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.


    Reply
  • 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

    #48

    "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.
    Reply
  • 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?

    Reply
  • 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?

    Psyched.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply

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