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

  • fitten - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    The zealotry is strong in this thread.

    The main issues that will cover all the g4m3rz in here is this:

    (Regardless of brand)
    a) Dual-core is not going to help you play games better in the short term. You're better off sticking with single core.
    2) Dual-core isn't going to overclock as well as a single core of the same core, for obvious reasons.
    D) The most cost effective gaming platform will still be a single core machine. If you just want to spend all that money, buy a higher clocked single core that is at the same price as the dual core. Your games will be better. When prices of the dual cores fall (sometime next year) it may be time to start looking at dual-core.

    If you do almost nothing but play games on your PC, getting a dual core as soon as you can pretty much just shows that you are out for the big ePenis showing you can spend a bunch of money on a gaming rig (kinda like a fart cannon muffler on the back of a Civic - it's useless, but at least it's expensive). In fact, serious gamers will probably laugh because their single core machine will still beat you at less cost. Nothing I've mentioned above hasn't been already said on many review sites.
  • wharris1 - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Is the Seagate HD used in these tests NCQ enabled. Sorry if this has been discussed, but I remember an article earlier stating the sizable performance benefit to NCQ that can be observed during multitasking using dual core chips and was wondering if NCQ was enabled in this performance comparison. Reply
  • L3p3rM355i4h - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    wow. All I can say is wow...I just bought a winchester. Now i have to go sell my right kidney for an X2 machine.... Reply
  • xsilver - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    I dont believe anand is biased, I was saying that IF there are accusations of bias, it should be aimed at amd, not intel.... #37 has some ideas of what could be done
  • Netopia - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Hey Anand,

    I've noticed of late that although Premier Pro is out, you guys are still using Premier 6.5. Pro is supposed to be very optimized for Intel and though I'm not in favor of any program that slants benchmarks, the fact is that in this case it is simply a real life scenario.

    Any plan on Premier Pro in the near future?

  • GoatMonkey - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Doesn't the Athlon 64 x2 have SSE3? I wonder how much of that content creation and multimedia performance increase is due to that. Were the Athlon 64s in the test the latest core with SSE3? I don't know of an FX version that has that yet.

  • ceefka - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Great article again. WOW! These X2s are impressive. The 4400+ is expensive, but not outrageously.

    Release date games.... hmmm, are they multithreaded?
  • Anemone - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link


    You should (not that they would have done super well) have at least put a single core P4 out there. If you wanted to be really thorough since Intel may well go this way, you could have put a 2.13 P-M out there also on the Asus 478 adaptor and seen how well it worked compared to the others too. I feel if you put a single core A64 into the mix you should have at least put a single core P4 in the mix too, say top speed either EE or the 3.6 6XX series.

  • nserra - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    It would be nice to see both processors running at the same speed to see the impact of 2MB L2 vs 1MB L2.

    And also some overclock?
  • Viditor - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    "If anything I think AT is more biased towards AMD, not intel"

    I disagree...I really haven't seen much in the way of bias on AT at all, but I have seen what appears to me to be extreme circumspection at times. Anand is VERY careful not to let bias interfere in his reviews, and there are times when his caution appears somewhat extreme.
    That said, crisagatie (while so far over the top that his nose must be bleeding) has a small point. Most of the other reviews I've read so far show the X2 with a more substantial advantage than Anand's review does, but I certainly wouldn't call him biased in either direction!

    BTW...Great review Anand and staff!

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