When the Pentium 4 3.4GHz EE came out along with Prescott, Intel was able to take a few bragging rights away from AMD. Today, the answering shot from the other side is the AMD Athlon 64 FX-53. This launch isn't really bringing anything new to the table architecture-wise, but this is a processor with a large cache, high clock speed, and a 128bit memory interface (rather than the 64bits of the Athlon 64 series).

The FX-53 is an Opteron based processor running at 2.4GHz with 1MB of L2 cache. The FX-53 is only the second in the series of FX processors. The third (the FX-55) is due out near the end of the year.

Enthusiast or Just Expensive

This is really the biggest question that we need to answer. We already know that we are not going to recommend this part before the release of its socket 939 counterpart. We've spoken about the issue before, and our recent AMD CPU roadmap article shows the Athlon 64 FX-53 to be the very last Athlon 64 processor produced for socket 940. While this isn't exactly the end of the platform (Opteron CPUs will still be using socket 940), it will be the end of the desktop as a target market.

The upside is that moving to the new platform will allow us to find very fast RAM easily (since it will simply use current unbuffered DDR400 technology), and we should see improved performance from the same CPU.

So, since the Athlon 64 FX-53 processor won't change fundamentally between the two socket types, we should be able to get a very good idea of performance, and an idea of what this processor will actually be worth. The prices on these processors right now are very prohibitive, but before we go down that road, let's see exactly how the playing field looks.

The Test


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  • johnsonx - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I looked at the FX-53 benchmarks on THG, and their benches vs. the FX-51 are right in line with what they should be... I don't see any descrepency as with AT's tests.

    From this I conclude that AT must indeed have tested the FX-53 with the OCZ memory, but used the Mushkin memory with the FX-51. That difference must explain the higher than expected performance of the FX-53.

    That also suggests that OCZ memory is pretty good stuff...
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Monday, March 22, 2004 - link

    yea, i ment registered, my bad.

  • johnsonx - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    To #27: that's my point. For the FX-53 to perform more than 9.1% faster than the FX-51, *SOMETHING* must be different. FactMan (#25) suggests the FX-53 is indeed a new stepping with some improvements.

    In my second note, I also observed that AT tested the FX-51 & FX-53 with different memory, though the article is none too clear on this point.

    Finally, as I pointed out in post 23, ECC is NOT required for the Athlon64 FX. The FX clearly *supports* ECC, but it is not required. Registered memory IS required for both the Opteron and Athlon64 FX.
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Saturday, March 20, 2004 - link

    why cant the fx-53 perform more than 9.1% better? it could have some revised coding within it which allows for better allocation of data, and improved prefetch, etc.

    it requires ecc. so you have to run with ecc

  • truApostle - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    According to AMD and factually speaking after running a slew of benchmarks, the FX-53 performs only 108% faster than the speed of the 64 3400 Athlon. This number was in overal~gaming prowess, period. I'm not too concerned with encoding, compiling, blah blah blah so I leave that to the folks who are. Man it's too hard to justify the extra cost of the FX-53 in relation to the 3400 with only 6-8% difference in speed, which at any rate is most likey un-noticeable anyhow. For me, and this is purely my humble opinion, the extra money price difference would better be suited a mess load of BAWLS. Reply
  • FactMan - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    In Reply to 16

    There are two things that are likely to be the reason for the superlinear performence improvement.

    1) The integrated memory controller runs at core speed, hence increased clockspeed makes the mem controller faster and reduces latency.

    2) It's build upon the newer CG stepping. This stepping fixes and improves several things, mainly to the memory controller.
  • bldkc - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    WHY CAN'T THEY COLOR CODE THE CHARTS! I have to spend three times as long reading each chart to determine who placed where as I do on a color coded chart such as those posted on Toms site. It is really annoying. I color code my charts at work. Every college class teaches color codeing. My 6 year old daughter color codes her drawings! Come on!! Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    TO #18, Athlon64Boy: The Athlon 64 FX retains the Registered requirement of the Opteron, but they were able eliminate the ECC requirement.

    After I posed my question, I did look around a bit for PC3200 Registered Non-ECC memory: it is something of a rare animal, but it does exist. (I think it's pretty A64FX specific). On, only CorsairXMS is offered in Reg/Non-ECC. Their website specifically touts this memory as being tested in AthlonFX motherboards:

    I suppose AT may have run their tests with ECC disabled, which as far as I know would eliminate any extra performance penalty. It may also be that the A64FX memory controller runs ECC and Non-ECC with equal efficiency... but there's always been a performance penalty in the past with ECC, registered or not.
  • yumarc - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    I've been hearing "Hold off til socket 939" for almost 6 months now. It appears has become a PR mouthpiece for AMD, or at the very least, become irresponsible to the point of recommending hardware that no one has publicly tested, priced, or seen. The future is now and socket 940 exists now. Don't forget the definition of the term, "vaporware". Reply
  • Xaazier - Friday, March 19, 2004 - link

    when is socket 939 due? Reply

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