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

  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link


    Consider that an open invitation for dinner and drinks at The Rocks in Sydney Harbour.
    Ya know, Computex Taipei is coming up at the end of this month...and those circle pacific fares aren't THAT expensive... ;-)
  • nserra - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    I was looking at the transistor count of both AMD and Intel implementations of dual core and the look almost the same, despite intel uses 300mm vs amd 200mm. But my point is amd have ondie memory controler and intel Hyperthreading, all in all the processors “look” the same? Could i say this? (5% die for HT vs 5% die for Memory controller)

    Of course Amd have a better design since it drains less power and offers better performance.
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    We're definately interested in some preliminary overclocking results... well... I am anyway. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link


    Sorry about that, it's not intentional. I haven't published any overclocking tests for one major reason: the CPUs are still far away from being widely available; I don't want to give anyone the wrong idea based on the overclocking results of these early samples.

    If you guys are interested, I can publish some preliminary findings here however.

    Take care,
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link


    If I ever manage to get some time off, both Vinney and I would love to head down to Australia :)


    If the differences are negligible (around 3% or less) then I'd say that's due to normal variances in the benchmarks - at a quick glance, that's what the majority of single threaded benchmarks are showing. There are other situations where the scheduler may confuse the picture a bit, but for the most part I'm not seeing any evidence of that in these tests.


    I used 32-bit Windows XP Pro. At this stage the 64-bit version of Windows is pretty much useless for the desktop unless you've got some very specific 64-bit desktop apps that you're using.

    Take care,
  • Samus - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link


    Why are you continuing to neglect our questions regarding overclocking? Is there an NDA or something disallowing you to discuss the topic?

  • Murst - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    So, is there any explanation why, in many tests, the single core 2.4 w/ 1mb cache is significantly faster than then dual core 2.4 w/ 1mb per core?

    That just doesn't seem to make any sense. Seems like the design of the dual core is not as great as everyone was saying if it slows down applications by that much.

    It just seems like there shouldn't be a performance hit by adding another core with AMD's implementation, but there obviously is.
  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    tagger123 - as most (if not all) of the apps are 32bit only, I would guess it was standard XP... Reply
  • tagger123 - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    hi Anand

    Would like to know if you used windows xp or xp64 and if so - would it have any performance hit or increase on amd 64 x2
  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    "you going to hire anand as a consultant?"

    Nope...but I'll buy the first round if he and his lady ever hit Sydney...! :-)

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