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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  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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

    #35
    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
    Reply
  • 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?

    Joe
    Reply
  • 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.


    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • Anemone - Monday, May 9, 2005 - link

    Foul...

    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.

    $.02
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply

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