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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  • Quanticles - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    #63

    you going to hire anand as a consultant? lol
    Reply
  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Anand...thanks muchly for the reply!
    I guess I just wanted to know if you had compared memory timings (I should have known that you had!).

    I'm just trying to get a handle on what will perform well and under what circumstances (I don't know if you noticed above, but I just had a colleague put a hold on a $90,000AUD order because of many of todays reviews...your input really DOES matter!).
    While rendering speeds are the paramount issue for me, multitasking is also important.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Overclock it! :D Reply
  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Nat, thanks for the reply.

    "for some reason the high end P4's have *felt* like faster desktop processors to me"

    I hear what you're saying...to me, they don't seem faster but they do seem "smoother". It feels sort of like the AMD's drive in a lower gear but with higher RPMs, you may be going the same or faster speed but the ride's a lot "torquier" (is that a word?) so you both accelerate AND decelerate faster.
    Reply
  • GentleStream - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    OK, I'll be patient.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    #51
    Synthetic benchmarks do not generally correlate to real world applications. There's no bias, you're just a dumbass.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    GentleStream

    I'm still working on additional multitasking tests (including a skype/gaming test as well as the multitasking compile test) but they didn't make it into this review.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • GentleStream - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    So where is the multitasked compile test? You did the compile test in the last review for building Firefox but did not do a parallel compile i.e.
    such as make -j 4. That is the test which I was really looking for.
    Reply
  • fitten - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    #46 Actually, no. I use (and write) multithreaded and multiprocess code every day for a living as well as for fun. I can't wait for the X2s to come out so I can buy one (I've been planning on it for over a year now!). I've already got everything picked out, I just need the dang things to be available!

    Btw, I'm also a gamer of sorts so I have to pay attention to both the programmer and the gamer inside me :P
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    "but that possibility is always there."

    I've always been very clear that this is *not* how things work at AnandTech. I specifically delegated all advertising duties to a separate company to ensure that there wasn't even a chance for manufacturers to have any influence on any AnandTech editors. From a business standpoint, you can run a much more successful business if your loyalties lay with your readers and their desires rather than with manufacturers. Credibility is everything and we'd have to be pretty stupid to sacrifice that for any amount of money or manufacturer favoritism. A lot of things in life just boil down to common sense, and how we work at AnandTech is one of them.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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