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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  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Anand

    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... ;-)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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

    Samus

    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
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Viditor

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

    Murst

    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.

    tagger123

    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,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Samus - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Anand,

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

    -Tim
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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...! :-)
    Reply

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